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X marks the spot for Xavier, Jackson excellence

Dannton Jackson (courtesy XULA Athletics)Dannton Jackson (courtesy XULA Athletics)

They do not reside in Cincinnati. They are not regular NCAA tournament participants. David West did not attend the school.

For Xavier University of New Orleans, the distinction is clear.

The school produces many outstanding members of society, particularly in New Orleans. The pharmacy school is consistently outstanding.

So, too, are Xavier's basketball teams.

The 2011-2012 season provides further evidence of this.

The Gold Rush scored a convincing 74-50 victory over Fisk University in Nashville in a Gulf Coast Athletic Conference contest Monday night.

Chris Iles led the way with 21 points while Denzell Erves had 16 points and 10 rebounds but that was not the story.

Head coach Dannton Jackson registered his 200th career victory in just his ninth season as the leader of the Xavier men's team.

Jackson is a consummate professional. His teams always play hard, stress ball movement and valuing possessions offensively and defending with tremendous urgency and verve.

Simply put, Xavier is a tough team to play against under Jackson. They have been for years now.

Illustrating the consistency of excellence, Jackson is the third consecutive Gold Rush coach to reach 200 wins. Denny Alexander (1978-1990) won 212 games while Dale Valdery (1990-2002) won a school record 234 games, a record that Jackson will threaten next season.

Xavier has made 12 appearances in the NAIA National Tournament since 1972, including five under Jackson. The Gold Rush are on a mission to return to the tournament after doing so last season.

Xavier has put together 12 consecutive winning seasons and 21 consecutive non-losing seasons. That defines consistency. That exudes excellence.

Jackson is a well respected teacher of the game. NBA players D.J. Augustin, Brandon Bass and Shan Foster have all spent time working out with Jackson, seeking pointers, over the past few years.

Of course, the program has produced its own stars, including Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, Bruce Seals and Donald "Slick" Watts, among others. Clifton was one of the first African-American players to sign an NBA contract and played for the Harlem Globetrotters. Watts and Seals played in the NBA as well. Seals was a brilliant player at Booker T. Washington High School in New Orleans.

Xavier's win over Fisk was their seventh in eight games. The Gold Rush are now 21-7 and 10-3 in GCAC play. Xavier has established a Louisiana record with 27 seasons of 20 or more wins. No other school in the state has accomplished this feat.

The Gold Rush trail Tougaloo by one game conference play with one game to play.

While the past and present of Xavier basketball are connected by winning, the future is even brighter. The Gold Rush will leave the storied "Barn" for a new home arena, the Convocation Academic Center, which is certain to lift the stature of the program even more.

While the men's program continues to win, the women's program continues to win as well.

Bo Browder's Gold Nuggets moved to 21-8 on the season and 11-2 in the GCAC with an easy 81-50 win at Fisk.

The victory clinched at least a tie for the conference championship.

Keldra Hall led a balanced attack with 11 points while Paige Gauthier had 10 points and nine assists to lead the way.

The success is nothing new for the Gold Nuggets.

In his 13th season, Browder is a consistent winner, guiding his team to 27 wins a year ago. Earlier this season, Browder reached an even more significant milestone, capturing his 300th win at Xavier on November 8 in a 64-54 victory over Spring Hill at the Barn.

Like the men's team, the Gold Nuggets play swarming defense, rushing to the ball, trapping whenever possible, forcing turnovers and poor shooting percentages by opponents from the field.

The Gold Nuggets are virtually unbeatable at home, going 122-8 in their final 130 home games in the venerable "Barn."

Xavier has dominated the GCAC, winning 40 of its last 42 games in league play. In the 2009-2010 season, the Gold Nuggets went a perfect 18-0 in GCAC play.

Since 1994, Xavier has reached the NAIA National Tournament 15 times in 18 seasons. Browder is simply one of the best in the business.

Both the Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets close with games against Dillard this Saturday at Dent Hall.

When it comes to Xavier basketball in New Orleans, color both teams solid gold.

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