By Andy Mac Williams, 10/31/2018

My exhaustive research shows Xavier started playing D-2 schools in exhibition games around and about 2005. Before that the NCAA allowed preseason games against touring foreign teams and AAU outfits like Athletes in Action only. D-2 and D-3 teams provide better competition. It's a nice payday for the lower level teams, a huge motivator for their players and a chance to pull off an occasional upset.

The Muskies have brought in NKU (before their move up to D-1), Tusculum, Bellarmine (from Louisville), Findlay, Northwood and Ferris State as I remember. The Findlay Oilers almost pulled the unthinkable upset at Cintas in 2008 losing late 79-76. They then ran the table and won the NCAA D-2 Championship.

Bellarmine beat XU in 2010 63-61. The Knights also won the D-2 Title. The next season Bellarmine came close again at Cintas-lost a tight one and made the Division 2 Final Four.

Muskie grad transfer Zach Hankins started his first game for Ferris State in 2016 at Xavier. He was hyped and very nervous. The game was tightly officiated. Hankins banged aggressively with Sean O'Mara. He fouled out quickly. Edmund Sumner dunked over Hankins dynamically. Ed still uses that video on his twitter account. Sumner visited Xavier practice a couple weeks ago and Zach asked him politely to remove the clip.

Last season XU hosted D-3 Thomas More College from just across the river and beat them handily 78-38 without Trevon Bluiett(sore shoulder) . Drew Cooper coached TMC. He's moved to D-2 Kentucky Wesleyan and it's a complete rebuild for the Panthers. KWC has 14 new players including two Mt St Joe's transfers. Andy Goetz(St. Henry HS) starts. Tyler Bezold(Holy Cross HS) comes off the bench. Tyler's dad is Dave Bezold-Xavier women's basketball administrator.

Coach Cooper is no stranger to Cintas. He was an assistant on those two Bellarmine teams in 2010 and 2011 that gave XU fits. He led Thomas More last season. Cooper likes his team's shooting ability, but they're young and inexperienced. Their BIG 7-2 Englishman Nathan Smith is injured(Western Kentucky transfer).


PG Quentin Goodin will probably not play. He dislocated his left shoulder about three weeks ago and is now out of the sling and into full rehab. "Q" is being brought along carefully. Apparently,he's been medically cleared for basketball activities and might be able to extend his lead guard starting streak to 53 games next Tuesday November 6th against IUPUI.

Paul Scruggs bruised a shoulder in the Ohio State secret scrimmage last Saturday in Columbus. Elias Harden ran the point most of the second half and has taken plenty of PG reps in practice this week.


Xavier fouled too much and did not shoot the "three" well in losing by about 10 points. Goodin did not play. X lost to OSU last October without Bluiett and Macura. Coach Steele was satisfied with effort. X won the rebounding and hustle numbers handily. Tyrique Jones had a huge game inside and at the free throw line. Naji Marshall played dynamically. Bottom line-Xavier shot it too quickly on offense and fouled too much on defense. Ryan Welage posted strong numbers.


The Panthers won 8 D-2 National Titles between 1966 and 2001. The school is located in Owensboro, Kentucky. They play in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference with Ohio Dominican, Findlay, Tiffin and Hilisdale(where former Muskie Andrew Taylor started).KWC has other D-1 exhibition games scheduled at Western Kentucky and Evansville.(Jay-Part 2 is coming later)


Xavier sold out all 18 Cintas home games last season and average 103% of capacity with standing room. Season ticket sales for TEAM 97 have set a new record approaching 8,200. Villanova and Creighton are already sold out with St Johns very close.


On approaching his first official game as head coach; "I don't feel any nerves. I'm just excited."

On Frosh Keonte Kennedy and Dontarious James: "Things are still going too fast for them. They'll be OK when the game slows down for them." Don is ready physically for D-1. He's 222 pounds with just 6% body fat." Matt Jennings has done a great job with Keonte. He's added 10 pounds of muscle. Keonte knows what he's doing. He can shoot it and he moves his feet well on defense."

On his player rotation: "We want to play at least 8 guys. We want our best players on the floor. Sub minutes will depend on performance. Playing time is determined by our Xavier Way scoring system. My door is always open for questions about playing time. I answer by pointing to the numbers."

On his team's style of play: "We'll be more of a driving team like the teams with Mark Lyons and Tu. We need to dominate in the post."

Tyrique Jones on Coach Steele moving to the first chair: "He's the same guy but with a larger voice."

Paul Scruugs on team chemistry: " There's a tighter player bond this season. Our brotherhood is like no other."

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