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In the Mississippi Valley,
In the Crescent Bend
Stands our loved and noble Xavier,
Far her praises send.
Wave her colors bear them onward
Gold and white so true
Hail to thee, all hail, dear Xavier
Hail, all hail, X.U.!
Xavier, ever be our guide
And lead us on the way,
Through life's journey, onward, upward
To the eternal day. (Refrain)
team and from other teams the last two
years, there's no doubt in my mind that we can compete at the national tournament.
We've just got to go out and do it. Is it easy? No. But it can be done here at Xavier."
2011-12 Xavier University of Louisiana Women's Basketball Preview
Gold Nuggets searching for deeper meaning this season
Women's Basketball Home Page
Bo Browder is in deep thought about his Xavier University
of Louisiana women's basketball team in 2011-12.
"Our primary goal is to make a deep run in the national
tournament," said Browder, who is 298-102 in
12 seasons at Xavier and is the program's winningest coach. "We have the talent to do it. As a coach I
need to figure out a way to make it happen."
This is not a new goal for the Gold Nuggets, who qualified
for the NAIA Division I National Championship 15 of the past 17 seasons,
finished 27-7 in 2010-11 and repeated as Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament champion. Yet just six
Xavier teams reached the second round at nationals, and none reached the quarterfinals.
But the Gold Nuggets' two most recent appearances at nationals —
a first-round overtime loss to Cumberlands in 2010 and a first-round victory
against Lee this past season — have given Browder more hope than ever.
"We're close," Browder said. "From what I saw from my
About the Gold Nuggets
• Head Coach: Bo Browder (Grambling 1994), 13th season; 298-102 at Xavier in 12 seasons, 300-110 overall in 13 seasons
• Associate Head Coach: Darrilyn Broussard (Xavier 1986), 11th season
• 2010-11 Record: 27-7 overall, 6-0 in Gulf Coast Athletic Conference
• 2010-11 Postseason: GCAC Tournament champion; second round of Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Championship
• 2010-11 Scoring: offense 62.7 ppg, defense 50.1 ppg
• Leading Returning Scorer: Jasmine Grant, 11.8 ppg
• Leading Returning Rebounder: Keldra Hall, 7.2 rpg
Xavier has 13 returning letterwomen — including senior
starters Keldra Hall, Jazmoné Kelly and Brandi Young — on a team that in the preseason was picked first
in the GCAC coaches poll and ranked 16th nationally. Five of Browder's 17 players are seniors.
Gone is forward/guard Christina Warren, who as a senior averaged 11.9 points per game
and was GCAC Player of the Year, but Browder believes the Nuggets can
continue their success without a glitch.
Hall, a 6-foot center,
was All-GCAC, GCAC Newcomer of the Year and GCAC Tournament
MVP this past season. She averaged 8.4 points and 7.2 rebounds and blocked a team-best 30 shots. Her 108 offensive rebounds were the most by a Gold
Nugget in the past four seasons. Kelly, a 5-9 guard/forward and a two-year starter, was All-GCAC as junior
and averaged 6.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 steals. The Gold Nuggets were 14-1 when
she grabbed five or more rebounds this past season. Young, a 5-6 point guard, averaged 7.1 points, 2.5 assists and two steals,
was All-GCAC Tournament and scored in double figures six times in the final 14 games.
Young reached double figures once in her first 86 games.
The other seniors are 5-8 guard Jasmine Grant and 5-11 forward
Danielle Kennebrew. Grant started as a freshman and for the first eight games
of 2010-11 before a knee injury ended her season. When healthy, Grant is potent —
her 123 made 3-pointers rank fourth all-time at Xavier. This past season she averaged 11.8
points per game and made seven 3-pointers in a game to tie an XU record.
"Jasmine Grant was going to be an All-American last year
until she got hurt. No doubt in my mind," Browder said.
Kennebrew, who averaged 2.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game
during her first three XU seasons, continues to transition to the perimeter, where
Browder says she'll be a stronger option this season.
Xavier's lone junior is 5-7 guard SiMon Franklin, a two-year starter who
redshirted in 2010-11. She averaged 6.6 points and shot .781 from the line for
XU's 28-game winner of 2009-10.
Xavier's eight-member freshman class of 2010-11
combined for nearly 30 percent of the scoring and 15 games started.
Seven of the eight return as sophomores, including 6-foot
forward Chelsea Broussard, whose 16 rebounds against Mobile
are the most in a game by a Gold Nugget since the start of the 2003-04 season;
5-10 forward Angelica Alexander, who was 3-of-3 from 3-point range in
one game; and 5-11 forward Carmen Holcombe, a GCAC Player of the Week
after leading the Nuggets in scoring in a victory against NAIA top-10 Lee.
The leading returning scorer among the sophomores
is 5-6 guard Paige Gauthier, who averaged 4.5 points and reached double figures
twice. Gauthier missed the national tournament because of a knee injury in
the closing seconds of the GCAC Tournament final, but she recovered quickly
during the offseason. Holcombe, Broussard and Alexander averaged between three and four points,
and Broussard averaged 3.6 rebounds to rank fifth on the Nuggets.
The other returning sophomores are 5-11 forward/guard
Paige Rochelle, 5-5 guard Etheral Lesene and 5-9 forward Jolie Bellow.
Also back is redshirt freshman guard Dalila Robinson, who missed 2010-11
because of a 12th-grade knee injury and is a capable 3-point shooter.
Signed for this season were 5-9 guard/forward
Cleosha Lee, 5-10 guard/forward Jessica Savannah and 6-3 center Crystal Wallace.
All are freshmen, and Browder expects all three to contribute in his longtime
play-everyone-on-the-bench style. Thirteen Nuggets averaged 10 or more
minutes per game in 2010-11, and just one player the past seven seasons —
honorable-mention All-America guard Jarryn Cleaves, who completed her
eligibility in 2008 — averaged more then 26.5 minutes.
Browder expects the Nuggets to be as
skilled defensively as his past two teams, which led NAIA Division I in scoring
defense both seasons. The Nuggets allowed 50.1 points per game
and produced 18 defensive efforts of less than 50 points this past season, both XU records
in the Title IX era.
What will change this season is the distance of the 3-point
line. For women's college basketball the line has been moved back a foot to
20 feet, 9 inches. The men started shooting from that distance in 2008-09.
"I think we'll be fine back there," Browder said.
"Our perimeter shooters are used to shooting from the longer distance."
Browder calls the schedule "the most difficult we've had in 10 years."
It starts with a Nov. 2 exhibition at perennial NCAA contender LSU, followed by
nine non-conference games against qualifiers for last season's NAIA National Championships.
The GCAC expanded to eight teams with the July addition of Philander Smith and
Talladega, and the conference will return to a double round-robin schedule this season
after unbalanced scheduling in 2010-11. The GCAC Tournament will be played in
Jacksonville, Fla., for the second straight year, and that champion will
receive an automatic bid to the national tournament.
The Gold Nuggets were 29-0 against GCAC opponents the past two seasons.
They were 18-0 in the 2009-10 regular season and 3-0 in the tournament, and they were 6-0 in the
2010-11 regular season and 2-0 in the tournament.
This is expected to be the final full season of
basketball at The Barn, Xavier's 1,300-seat gymnasium which opened in 1937.
Expected to open in late 2012 is a new 4,500-seat facility, the Convocation
The Gold Nuggets have dominated at home, going 233-19 at The Barn during the past 18 seasons
— 157-15 during Browder's tenure.
Since the start of the 2000-01 season, the Gold Nuggets have fewer losses
in their campus venue (10) than the Tennessee Lady Vols have in theirs (11).
"Lots of great memories at The Barn," Browder said.
"The Barn has been good to the Gold Nuggets. It's been a great home-court advantage.
But I think the young ladies in our program should also get a lot of credit for our success."