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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)
2008-09 Xavier University of Louisiana Women's Basketball Preview
Newcomers could help Gold Nuggets continue old habits
seniors, including four-time
All-GCAC guard Jarryn Cleaves, who finished as the Nuggets' career
leader in 3-pointers and No. 5 in points. "Our new players have
plenty to learn, but they all brought good skills and good
attitudes here. This should be as athletic a team as I've had.
I see us pressing and running a lot and going deep into our bench,
which I've always liked."
For the first time since the 1994-95 season, there are no
seniors on the Xavier University of Louisiana women's basketball team. But
10th-year head coach Bo Browder isn't worried.
"This is my best recruiting class," said Browder of his nine scholarship
newcomers — eight freshmen and one junior. "Our recruiting class the year
before was exceptionally good too. We're going to be fine."
Other coaches in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference seem to agree.
The Gold Nuggets received eight of 10 first-place votes and the most
points in the 2008-09 preseason poll.
How well those newcomers blend with five returning letterwinners —
four sophomores and a junior — will help determine if Xavier ends city
rival Loyola's two-year reign atop the GCAC regular-season standings and
reaches its annual benchmarks.
"We could be very good again," said Browder, whose Nuggets were
27-7 this past season, finished second in the GCAC regular season,
won 65-64 at Loyola in the GCAC Tournament final and qualified for
the NAIA Division I National Championship for a school-record seventh
consecutive time. That team had seven
About the Gold Nuggets
• Head Coach: Bo Browder (Grambling 1994), 10th season; 220-80 at Xavier in nine seasons,
222-88 overall in 10 seasons
• Associate Head Coach: Darrilyn Broussard (Xavier 1986), eighth season
• 2007-08 Record: 27-7 overall, 14-4 (second place) in Gulf Coast Athletic Conference
• 2007-08 Postseason: GCAC Tournament champion; NAIA Division I Championship qualifier for
seventh consecutive season and 13th time in 14 seasons
• 2007-08 Scoring: offense 65.4 ppg, defense 56.1 ppg
• Leading Returning Scorer: Johnna Williams, 6.6 ppg
• Leading Returning Rebounder: Johnna Williams, 5.5 rpg
Back for Xavier are returning starters Shayla Boyd, a sophomore, at point
guard and junior guard/forward LaTashia Wise. The other letterwinners are
forward Danielle Jones, forward/center Johnna Williams and guard Ashley McGill, all sophomores.
Boyd started 32 of 34 games and averaged 6.2 points as a freshman,
and she made the Nuggets' most memorable basket of the season — a GCAC Tournament-winner
with seventh-tenths of a second remaining.
"If Shayla has a good year, that'll be the
key to everything we're trying to achieve," Browder said.
Wise, the only current Nugget who was on the 2006-07 roster,
averaged 6.3 points and 3.9 rebounds and showed significant improvement
in her accuracy from the floor and the line. "Tashia has room to get better,"
Browder said. "She's the player most familiar with our system, so we'll be
counting on her for leadership too."
Williams, the daughter of former NBA standout John "Hot Rod" Williams,
averaged 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds. She started seven times and had 23
points and nine rebounds in her first start.
Jones averaged 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds and had a double-double in her
second collegiate game. McGill averaged 1.6 points and 10.3 minutes, the
lowest figures among the returning Nuggets, but ranked 26th nationally
with a 1.8 assist/turnover ratio.
The scholarship newcomers are forward/center Hillary Dedeaux, guards
SiMon Franklin, Jasmine Grant, LaDaisha Holloway, Marchelle Jones
(Danielle's sister) and Brandi Young, forwards Danielle Kennebrew and
Brittany Powell and guard/forward Jazmoné Kelly. Powell is a transfer
from San Jose State, an NCAA Division I school where she made the Western
Athletic Conference All-Freshman team and averaged 10.1 points and 5.8
rebounds per game in two seasons.
Stepping up to replace Cleaves (283 career 3-pointers) as the best
outside shooter could be Grant, who was second-team All-State as a
senior at Southwood High School, a perennial Louisiana power in
Shreveport. Powell and Dedeaux will play center, a position handled
by two-time All-GCAC player Erica Turnbull, who completed her
eligibility. Franklin, whose nickname is "Money,"
scored more than 1,000 career points and was a two-time outdoor
Louisiana prep champion in the 800-meter run.
Whether you call it rebuilding or reloading, Xavier has done it superbly
for a long time. The Nuggets are trying to reach 20 victories for the
eighth consecutive time — that would tie a school record —
and the 16th time in 17 seasons. Another trip to the NAIA nationals
would be the Nuggets' 14th in 15 seasons. Xavier will enter the season
with a 19-game winning streak at The Barn and 65 victories in its past
67 games in its campus gym. The Nuggets have won 41 of their past 42
GCAC regular-season games at The Barn.
The Nuggets' schedule includes five consecutive games in 19 days against teams
which qualified for the 2008 NAIA nationals: Berry and Lee (Tenn.) in the
Lady Flames Classic at Cleveland, Tenn., on Nov. 14-15, Langston and
Wiley in the Xavier Classic on Nov. 27-28 and a game at Wiley on Dec. 2.
Those opponents were a combined 118-20 this past season, and all but
Berry won first-round games at the national tournament.
Three more games against NAIA qualifiers will follow that stretch: Dec. 20
in the San Juan Shootout (Puerto Rico) against four-time defending Division
I scoring champion Olivet Nazarene and Jan. 29 at home and Feb. 4 on
the road against Loyola.
"It'll be another challenging season for us,"
Browder said. "But we're capable of handling it."