Dee Davis played a very solid game last Saturday in the exhibition against Kentucky State. Now, it's for real, and the Musketeers will need a little more out of him than usual as Semaj Christon will not likely play with his elbow infection. Dee has to be aggressive and look for his shot more without Christon, who figures to be one of Xavier's top scorers. Lonnie Robinson may or may not run the point for FDU. It's nearly impossible to project their lineup with all the guys that they'll be missing. We were expecting Sidney Sanders to start, but he will not be traveling with the team, so we're guessing Robinson, who was originally scheduled to start at the four but was the backup point guard on last year's team, will get the start at point. He can handle the ball for a forward and is a good passer, but not a true point guard obviously. On offense he's more of a slasher than he is a shooter, but he did shoot 35 percent from three last year, so the Musketeers can't leave him wide open from the perimeter.
Significant Edge Xavier
Brad Redford has worked extremely hard in the offseason to make sure his body is in better physical condition than it was last year. Other than a slight setback with the recent tweak of his hamstring, the hard work looks to have paid off as Redford is in peak physical condition. His endurance is as good as anyone on the team, and he's seemingly improved his foot speed and explosion after looking slow on the court last season. Redford brings a unique weapon to the floor, and he should be utilized a lot more this season, partly out of necessity but also because he may be a better fit for this offense than the ball-screen motion. He's going against a catch and shoot two guard in Mustafa Jones, who isn't a very good shooter, so it should be a favorable matchup for him.
Slight Edge Xavier
This has been said consistently throughout his career at Xavier, but Jeff Robinson's talent has never been in question. This is his final year though and his last chance to realize some of that tremendous potential he possesses. With the physical tools already in place, a big senior year could land Robinson a professional gig across seas before having to get a real job. He has been shooting the ball well from the outside in the preseason and him playing the three in this offense should free him for some good looks. He can also be a big asset crashing the glass on the offensive end, using his length and leaping ability to make an impact on the glass. He could present a big matchup problem for the Knights as they don't have anyone on the roster with his height or length. He'll be going against a familiar face in Duquesne transfer Melquan Bolding. Bolding is the go-to option for FDU. He led them in scoring a year ago with an average of 15.1 points per game. He can shoot threes, will drive it and will post up. A skilled athlete with good handle and touch to the perimeter, FDU wants to get him as many shots as humanly possible, especially with their depleted roster.
Moderate Edge FDU
Travis Taylor Sr (6-8, 216) vs Myles Mann Fr (6-6, 225)
Travis Taylor's 2011-12 season was a disappointment by any measure. He just flat out didn't produce, which was made even more disappointing by a very impressive preseason last year. This year has been more of the same as far as an impressive preseason. Taylor has good explosiveness around the rim and is able to use his quickness to score against bigger post players. He'll have the benefit of being able to play through some mistakes this year, which he didn't get to last season, but he'll also have to stay out of foul trouble to get that chance. The Kentucky State exhibition wasn't a terrible performance by Taylor, but he showed some of the same symptoms from last year (sped up play, turnovers, cheap fouls, missed layups, dropped passes) that kept him from making a big impact. Xavier needs a good year out of him, and it starts tonight against a depleted FDU team. We're not sure who is going to start at the four with all the movement happening on FDU's roster. Mann is a freshman that we know very little about, other than he's a widebody with some skill.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Erik Stenger Jr (6-8, 207) vs Mathias Seilund Jr (6-7, 205)
Erik Stenger went from a walk-on that was coming aboard from a Division-II school to a scholarship player starting the season opener in a year. Stenger's consistent effort and work ethic in his transfer season put him in position to succeed and earned the respect of his teammates and coaches. Stenger brings a very legitimate rebounding presence to the lineup. The best part about his game is he knows who he is as a player. He doesn't try to do too much or go out of his comfort zone. He won't take bad shots or force the action. Stenger was as good as anyone in the Kentucky State scrimmage scoring 12 points and hauling in a team-high 9 boards. They need a consistent effort inside on defense and on the glass, and Stenger has proven so far that he can provide that. We really don't know who is starting at the five for the Knights either with usual starter Kinu Rochford not making the trip for disciplinary reasons, but we're going with the big man from Denmark, Mathias Seilund as of now. Seilund returns after averaging 3.2 points per game last season as a sophomore in 17.1 minutes of action. He's not really a post scorer, though he's not a knockdown face up four either. He will definitely let it fly from three if he's open, but he connected at just a 25.8 percent clip last year. As long as Xavier doesn't let him get easy looks to get going, he shouldn't be too much of a factor.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs FDU Bench
This one seems like more of an exhibition than the Kentucky State game as both teams will be playing with basically seven scholarship players. Fairleigh Dickinson kicked Cincinnati native Lonnie Hayes off the team last week and has now suspended four more players who didn't make the trip with the team. The Knights only won three games last season and they lost a lot of scoring and rebounding production off that team. What they didn't lose to graduation will not be playing either due to the already mentioned disciplinary issues. The Musketeers shouldn't be in much danger, even without Semaj Christon playing. Look for Dee Davis to step up and show that he's emerged as the leader of this team with a big game, and also look for Xavier to control the paint. This could be another big game for Erik Stenger.
Score Prediction: Xavier 84 Fairleigh Dickinson 68