Xavier freshman point guard Semaj Christon out with an infection

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The last thing that Xavier needed on the day of their season opener against Fairleigh Dickinson was to have someone else ruled out, given the fact that they have just nine scholarship players on the roster.

But that’s exactly what head coach Chris Mack will have to deal with, as freshman point guard Semaj Christon is out for tonight’s game due to an infected cut on his elbow.

The contest between the Knights and Musketeers features two shorthanded teams, as FDU will travel just seven players to Cincinnati. Lonnie Hayes, who was supposed to have a homecoming of sorts since he’s a native of the city, was dismissed from the program and four other FDU players are out for disciplinary reasons.

As for Xavier, their personnel issues have been well-documented. Dez Wells, who is now eligible at Maryland, was expelled from school and Mark Lyons is now running the point at Arizona.

There’s also two freshmen who weren’t cleared by the NCAA (Myles Davis and Jalen Reynolds) and the three-game suspension of Towson transfer Isaiah Philmore over a paperwork issue, meaning that the Musketeers will have just eight scholarship players available tonight.

Guard Brad Redford, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, will likely slide into Christon’s spot in the starting lineup but he’s coming off of a hamstring injury suffered while running a sprint last month.

“You get tired of dealing with the injuries and spending time in the training room. You’d much rather just be on the court with your teammates and not worrying about just getting on the court,” Redford said in an interview with Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer last Thursday. “It’s kind of something you deal with. Really you just kind of take it day-to-day, see how it feels.”

While that comment was in regards to Redford’s injury issues, it could also be applied to Xavier’s offseason. Tired of all of the personnel issues, the Musketeers are probably looking forward to just playing basketball.

Photo credit: Xavier University

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

POSTERIZED: Monmouth bench mob goes insane after huge dunk

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Monmouth has arguably been the most entertaining team in college basketball through the season’s first three weeks.

Let’s start with the obvious: They’re a mid-major outfit with a 5-foot-8 point guard that headlines a talented back court, one good enough to have notched upsets at UCLA and, this week, over No. 17 Notre Dame and USC at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando.

It’s pretty incredible, to be honest. They’ve managed to amass one of college basketball’s best resume despite being a MAAC program with a grand total of four NCAA appearances in their luxurious history.

But what makes this team so much fun isn’t just that they can’t seem to stop beating high-major competition, it’s that, in the process, their bench mob has become one of college basketball’s best.

Want some proof? Watch what happens after this Deon Jones poster dunk:

And here’s the wild part: that wasn’t even close to the best thing the bench did this week.

This was:


But there’s so much more.

Like, for example, the three arrows:

The touchdown pass:

The bench poster:

The heart attack:

They … caught a fish?

And, finally, the ‘OH SHHHHHHHHHHHH’:

Wichita State’s 0-3 week makes chances for at-large bid small

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

We’ve reached the nightmare scenario for Wichita State.

Having entered the season as the overwhelming favorite in the Missouri Valley, a top 15 team and a legitimate threat to reach a Final Four, after two weeks, the Shockers are in serious danger of missing out on the NCAA tournament altogether.

That’s not hyperbole, either.

Wichita State fell to 2-4 on the year after getting mollywhopped by Iowa in the 7th-place game of the Advocare Invitational. They ended up in the 7th-place game because they lost to USC and Alabama in the opening two rounds. The Hawkeyes look like the might be able to eke out an at-large berth if things fall the right way for them, but USC and Alabama are projected to finish at or near the bottom of their respective conferences. Even Iowa would do well to finish in the top half of the Big Ten.

Individually, none of those three losses are particularly terrible, and that’s before you factor in that all-american point guard Fred VanVleet sat out the trip to Orlando with a bad hamstring. They were also without back up point guard Landry Shamet in the tournament and it’s unknown when they’ll actually get Anton Grady back to full stretch. That matters to the NCAA tournament selection committee. They’ll factor it in when they determine where the Shockers will be seeded, or if they will even get an invite.

But throw in the loss at Tulsa from the first week of the season, and the Shockers are now 2-4 on the season.

And unlike the rest of the preseason top 25 — unlike the rest of the nation’s high-major programs — Wichita State won’t have a chance to load up on quality wins during league play. The Valley is better than we probably realized (more on that in a second), but it’s not like there are going to be a myriad of top 50 wins for the taking.

Look at Georgetown, for example. They Hoyas went 1-3 in the first week of the season, a stretch that included a home loss to Radford. But they also play in a conference where they’ll get home-and-homes against the likes of Villanova, Butler and Xavier.

The Shockers need to do their damage during the non-conference. They need to get the bulk of their resume put together before Valley play starts. Assuming they do win the rest of their non-league games, we’re not exactly looking at a daunting profile, either. The Shockers still have to visit Saint Louis and Seton Hall and host UNLV, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico State. UNLV and Utah should look like quality wins on Selection Sunday, but the rest of them?

Wichita State is putting themselves in a position where they may end up needing to win the Missouri Valley tournament just to get into the Big Dance, and the problem is that the Valley looks like it is really going to be tough this season. Northern Iowa notched a win over North Carolina already this year. Illinois State gave Maryland a fight and entered the season as a favorite to upset the Shockers. Evansville has two of the league’s five best players in D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius.

They’re not waltzing through that conference by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s not exactly what VanVleet and Ron Baker had in mind when they decided to return to Wichita for one final season.