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Save the last dance

By Sabrina Brown
On March 21, 2012

Every Division I college basketball team starts out the season with one goal in mind: the NCAA tournament. For some schools, this goal is achieved nearly every year, and most years, Xavier falls in to that category, making 11 of the
last 12 NCAA tournaments. But for a while this year, many people believed that come March, the Musketeers would not be one of the 68 teams putting on their dancing shoes.
Boy, were they wrong. With victories over 15-seeded Lehigh and 7-seeded Notre Dame, Xavier is now one of the last 16 teams left standing, fighting for a chance to call themselves the national champion. This year's Sweet 16 appearance marks the fourth in five years for Xavier, making them one of only four teams in the country with this accomplishment. This puts them in the elite company of very Division I college basketball team starts out the season with one goal in mind: the NCAA tournament. For some schools, this goal is achieved nearly every year, and most years, Xavier falls in to that category, making 11 of the last 12 NCAA tournaments. But for a while this year, many people believed that come March, the Musketeers would not be one
of the 68 teams putting on their dancing shoes. Boy, were they wrong. With victories over 15-seeded Lehigh and 7-seeded Notre Dame, Xavier is now one of the last 16 teams left standing, fighting for a chance to call themselves the national champion. This year's Sweet 16 appearance marks the fourth in five years for Xavier, making them one of
only four teams in the country with this accomplishment. This
puts them in the elite company ofMichigan State, Kansas and North Carolina. Though the Sweet 16 is a great accomplishment for any team, these Musketeers are far from satisfied. "Everybody's hungry. We're really hungry, and we're not satisfied with this win. We want to make the best run we can in the tournament, and this is the best time of the year, so why not?" junior forward Jeff Robinson said.
When it comes to hunger to win, senior point guard Tu Holloway is at the top of the list. Time and time again Holloway proves that his will to win is as strong as any player in the country. If there's a clutch shot to be made, he makes it. If there's a player to defend, he defends him.
While the senior led Xavier in its victories over both Notre Dame and Lehigh, he wasn't without help. Senior Kenny Frease had a career game against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks to propel Xavier into the Sweet 16. Frease scored a career high 25 points. He also had 12 rebounds, giving the 7-footer a double-double. Frease also added two blocks in his 34 minutes of play. While both Frease and Holloway have experienced two previous Sweet 16s in their careers,
for graduate student Andre Walker, this Sweet 16 was particularly sweet. Though Walker has made it to the tournament as a college basketball player, he was never a part of a win in the Big Dance before Friday's victory over Notre Dame. "It's a great feeling. Around this time, I'm usually watching these games. I talked to Kenny when there was about 15 seconds left and told him I'd never felt this before. He said he was happy for me. It's a good feeling, and we're just trying to keep it going," Walker said. Walker was injured Friday night and only played 20 minutes against Lehigh on Sunday. "I'm okay, I guess. With a couple more days of rest and not having to do all this movement, I won't be feeling nauseous or dizzy or anything like that," Walker said.
Walker was not the only Xavier player injured in Xavier's quest for Atlanta this weekend. Freshman Dez Wells was injured in Sunday's game against Lehigh. Wells has a sprain in his big toe, and it is uncertain if he will play against Baylor. Wells was optimistic in the locker room on Sunday. "I feel great. We're going to the Sweet 16. I feel really, really good, and I'm going to do whatever I can to help my team win," Wells said. The Musketeers saw a big game from its bench as a result of their injured starting line-up, particularly
from freshmen Dee Davis and Justin Martin. "It feels great [to see Davis and Martin play well]. We shortened our bench a little bit in the A-10 tournament, but I went into halftime
and I singled those two out to the team and said, 'Justin and Dee, absolutely great job,'" head coach Chris Mack said. "We couldn't have asked for more in terms of their effort and the energy they give, the points they brought in. Those two really helped our team. There was a big time togetherness in that locker room." For these hungry Musketeers, Sixteen tastes sweet, but Elite would taste even sweeter.


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