Men's Basketball - Tue, Mar. 22, 2005
CHICAGO - Following a magical season that ended with the Saint Xavier University men's basketball team making its first-ever National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Elite 8 appearance, head coach Tom O'Malley knows the importance of senior leadership. Although the team was overflowing with talented upperclassmen, two particular seniors stood out. Not just for their contributions over the course of the 2004-05 season, but for what forward Michael Rojas (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) and guard Phillip Watson (Chicago, Ill./Von Stueben) have brought to the 35-year-old program over the last four years.
"To see both Mike and Phil grow into outstanding people, instead of just outstanding basketball players, has been a joy for me," said O'Malley. "Many of our opponents will be happy to see them go, but this program will really miss their impact. To think that Phil came into SXU as a high school center and will leave after playing point guard for us over the last two seasons says a lot about his work ethic. Mike really came on strong toward the end of this season and really showed why he has been such as solid scorer and rebounder for Saint Xavier over his career."
Rojas was a three-year starter, a two-time All-Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Honorable Mention in 2004 and 2005 and a All-CCAC First Team selection in 2003. After finishing fifth on the team in scoring (11.5 points per game) and second in rebounding (5.9 boards per game) this season, Rojas ends his impressive collegiate career at No. 7 all-time on the Saint Xavier University men's basketball career scoring list with 1,603 points and No. 5 all-time in career rebounds with 795.
Watson was also a three-year starter under O'Malley and is a three-time All-CCAC First Team member (2003, 2004, & 2005). He led the Cougars in scoring (13.8 ppg), assists (4.0 apg), and steals (1.8 spg) this season, while also finishing third in rebounding (5.5 rpg). Watson will finish up as SXU's No. 14 all-time leading scorer with 1,406 points as well as earning the No. 3 spot in career assists at Saint Xavier with 437 dishes.
Saint Xavier ended its 2004-05 season with a 30-7 overall record and a No. 13 national ranking. The Cougars advanced to the NAIA Elite 8 for the first time in school history and hit the 30-win mark for just the third time, tying the school's record for most wins in a season.