CHRIS DISANO, COX SPORTS A10 INSIDER
The press release went live on the Atlantic 10 homepage last March, and an email facsimile of it hit in-boxes of national and local media at about the same time. The Atlantic 10 had announced its all-conference teams.
Three teams and 15 names representing the best of the Atlantic 10.
Xavier Munford’s name was nowhere to be found.
As expected, it got his attention.
“When I saw that list come out last year it was very frustrating,” Munford said Wednesday as he reflected upon his omission. “I felt like I worked hard to be on that list.”
The conference’s second leading scorer at 17.4 points per game, Rhode Island’s 6-foot-2 guard tallied more than 20 points on 11 occasions. He knocked down buzzer-beaters to either extend (Auburn) or win (Dayton) games. He’d been held to less than 10 points just four times in 29 outings, despite being the focal point of opposing teams’ defensive game plans. And he played with intensity from baseline to baseline.
But Munford played on an 8-21 team, and voters are cruel to players on losing teams when it comes time to dole out all-conference hardware.
Playing on a losing team won’t be an impediment in 2013-14.
Though Munford remains the primary backcourt scorer, he now has plenty of help. A roster that went only about seven deep last year figures to balloon to a steady 10-man rotation in 2013-14. The Rams enjoy balance with an interior crew led by Rutgers transfer Gilvydas Biruta, versatility at small forward with 6-foot-6 Rice transfer Jarrelle Reischel, and additional playmakers and speed in the backcourt in top-100 freshman E.C. Matthews and Texas Tech transfer Biggie Minnis. These reinforcements and lessons learned from a year ago help fuel the rising senior.
“I’m going to use [last year's omission] as motivation to keep pushing and to be a better player,” Munford said.