By Luke Servollo, Staff Writer
Eight Xavier alumni and one UConn graduate team up as “Zip ‘Em Up” to play in the basketball tournament.
Photo courtesy of @ZipEmUpTBT on Twitter
Xavier fans can look forward to a journey into the past. For the first time since the first “The Basketball Tournament” (TBT) in 2014, Xavier will have a team.
The team will play under the name “Zip ‘Em Up”, which goes back to Xavier’s 2010-2011 team motto. The saying was made public in a post-game interview with then-Xavier guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons. The interview took place after the infamous shooting with Cincinnati in December 2011.
“We were treated a little disrespectful before the game, the guys called us out. “We’re a tougher team. We’re grown men over here … We went out and closed them at the end of the game. That’s our motto: zip ’em up and that’s exactly what we did with them, ”said Holloway.
Teams in TBT are usually made up of alumni who have played in the same school and there will be a total of 64 teams in the tournament. The teams are divided into four regions with 16 teams per region. The regional venues are Charleston, WV; Wichita, Kan .; Columbus, Ohio; and Peoria, Illinois. The quarterfinals and so on will be played in Dayton, Ohio.
Xavier will compete in the Columbus area, held on the Ohio State campus. Carmen’s crew, the former Buckeyes’ team, is said to be the first seed in the area, while the rest of the group will be announced on June 21st.
Zip ‘Em Up’s roster has the potential to cause serious damage to the tournament. Here’s who will be playing for Zip ‘Em Up and when they played for Xavier:
- Jeff Robinson (2009-2010, 2012-2013)
- JP Macura (2014-2015, 2017-2018)
- Kaisertor (2015-2016, 2017-2018)
- Kerem Kanter (2017-2018)
- Mark Lyons (2009-2010, 2012-2013)
- Sean O’Mara (2014-2015, 2017-2018)
- Christon Week (2012-2014)
- Trevon Bluiett (2014-2015, 2017-2018)
There are also two players in the roster who never played for Xavier: Kayel Locke (UNC Greensboro, 2012-2016) and Sterling Gibbs (Texas, 2011-2012; Seton Hall, 2013-2015; and UConn, 2015-2016).
There’s still time to add players who Xavier is likely to chase due to their relatively small squad. Two players who stood out at Xavier – which Xavier fans would like to see added in my opinion – are Holloway, who was a key player on the original “Zip ‘Em Up” team from 2010-2011, and Tyrique Jones, his Xavier graduated in 2020. The team is coached by Xavier’s former assistant coach, Rich Carter.
What will excite the Xavier fans the most is the reunion of the members of the 2017 and 2018 teams. In particular, fans expect JP Macura and Trevon Bluiett to return home. Both were integral to Xavier Basketball’s recent success, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2017, a Big East title in the regular season, and an NCAA tournament with a starting place in 2018.
TBT begins July 16, but the Columbus area games don’t begin until July 23.