X-emplar for the Little Guys
The day after Xavier was knocked out of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament semifinals on March 13, assistant coach
Whitford, who previously coached at mid-major Miami (Ohio), says, "[At Miami] I would have had to make several connections to save money. Here I saved three hours of flying time, [which is] three hours more I can spend with the recruit."
Successful recruiting has been key for Xavier, which can make the case that it -- and not Gonzaga, or even Memphis -- is the king of the non-BCS-conference mid-majors. (The Musketeers so hate the term that they turned down an award last year because it was for Mid-Major Player of the Week, but that's life in the A-10.) Xavier has made it into the NCAA tournament in eight of the last nine years, and if it can defeat top-seeded Pittsburgh in Boston on Friday, it will have reached its third Elite Eight in six seasons.
"We're built to last," Miller said after Xavier beat Wisconsin 60-49 in Boise, Idaho, on Sunday. "People expected us to disappear, but they don't know what's gone into getting the program to this point. We're not going away."
"It's not one thing, but many little things that have happened over the years that have allowed success to breed here," says
The most visible sign of the school's all-in fervor is the Cintas Center, the 10,250-seat, $46 million arena that opened on campus in 2000. "It puts us on par with so many programs that we weren't on par with before," says Miller. "People ask: Can you win a national championship at Xavier? I think we've shown that we can compete with the teams that are winning national championships."
Miller has changed Xavier from the kind of pressing team that was favored by his predecessors,