Tuesday, January 26, 1999

SHOOTOUT NOTEBOOK


To air ball is human; an XU win is divine

BY MICHAEL PERRY and MIKE DeCOURCY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        No, it's not a typical week around town.

        That point was hammered home for Xavier coach Skip Prosser on Sunday morning at services at Bellarmine Chapel on XU's campus.

        “I knew it was a big game when the priest talked about it in Mass,” Prosser said. “He talked about how we won the last two games and it would be a tribute to the Holy Trinity if we could do it again.”

Non-conference sweep
       

        A victory over Xavier would give this UC team a somewhat hidden distinction: a perfect record against non-conference competition.

        The Bearcats won their previous 12 games outside Conference USA, including three against ranked teams: Duke (ACC), Minnesota (Big Ten) and Rhode Island (Atlantic 10). They've beaten teams from the Big 12 (Oklahoma, Iowa State), and WAC (UNLV). With a win over the Musketeers, UC would be 3-0 against the A-10, having also beaten Dayton.

        The last UC team to finish the regular season undefeated against non-league opponents was the 1962-63 team that reached the NCAA championship game. That team was 11-0 outside the Missouri Valley Conference.

Busy busy
       

        On Sunday afternoon, Prosser and UC coach Bob Huggins taped Channel 12's Sports Authority show, then Prosser appeared live Sunday night on Sports of All Sorts on Channel 9.

        Prosser and Huggins attended a Skyline Chili VIP party on Monday night, and have a Crosstown Shootout luncheon Wednesday.

        That doesn't even count all the radio talk shows asking the coaches for their time this week.

        “You have to balance it,” Prosser said. “The bottom line is I have to make sure I do what I can to help prepare our guys to win the game. Anything that takes away from that I try to get out of it.

        “I'd much rather just be in the gym, but that's part of being the head coach at Xavier.”

Three score
        It is not by accident that UC junior forward Ryan Fletcher recorded three consecutive double-figure scoring games since being switched to a reserve role, with Jermaine Tate starting at power forward.

        Fletcher has averaged 11.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in three games off the bench.

        “Usually, when I started the game, I was used defensively to guard their best post player,” Fletcher said. “I didn't see myself as much of a scorer.

        “Coming off the bench, I think I'm more determined to show that I can play.”

Mel's the man
       

        UC senior guard Melvin Levett became the second Bearcats player to be named Conference USA player of the week. He was selected for his performance in wins over Louisville and Saint Louis. Levett averaged 19 points in the two wins.

Et cetera
        XU finished one place out of the top 25 in the new Associated Press poll. That's the closest the Musketeers have come to getting ranked since they fell out in the Dec. 7 poll, when they were 28th.

        • Xavier's 10-game winning streak is the fifth-longest in the country.

       



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