Monday, December 20, 1999
The best 15-to-20 minutes XU's spent
As Xavier prepared for the University of Cincinnati last week, the team practiced working in a 1-3-1 zone defense for a total of 15-to-20 minutes.
The coaching staff figured the Musketeers would have to switch defenses all night against the top-ranked Bearcats just to keep them off balance and slow them down.
But the 1-3-1 was so effective that Prosser said his team probably was in it half the game.
It's like throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks, and that stuck, Prosser said. Why stop when it was working?
In hopes of keeping UC from exploiting Xavier inside, the Musketeers tried to keep the ball on the perimeter. That's just what the zone did most of the time.
UC freshman Kenny Satterfield was successful penetrating the zone late in the first half, and in the second half Satterfield lobbed an alley-oop pass to DerMarr Johnson for a dunk.
But for the most part, it kept them going around rather than at the defense, Prosser said. If it works well, that's what it's designed to do ... I would not think that that would be that effective that long. I think it had a lot to do with (the victory).
You can count on one finger the amount of times in four seasons that Kenyon Martin committed more than five turnovers. Before Saturday, that is.
Xavier used an interesting tactic of attacking the ball with multiple defenders when Martin faced the basket more often than when he caught it in the post.
The Musketeers were able to slap it loose numerous times, and Martin ended with a season-high six turnovers. His career high is seven, but UC won that game at South Florida last February by a comfortable margin.
We wanted to make it tough on him to score, said Xavier guard Darnell Williams. We know that come next year, he's going to be a great player if he goes to the NBA, but we couldn't back down and just give him what he wanted. We just tried to make him think out there, not just let him get it it in the post and let him go one-on-one.
The extended 1-3-1 zone defense Xavier used to such great effect in the Shootout bore little resemblance to the matchup defense Temple employed to eliminate the Bearcats from last season's NCAA Tournament.
It may be more than a coincidence that the last two teams to beat UC did not play primarily man-to-man. The Bearcats were difficult to guard with a straight man last season, and the addition of Satterfield and DerMarr Johnson and the improvement of Martin, Pete Mickeal and Steve Logan made it that much harder.
What the XU zone did best aside from creating turnovers by sending defenders at the Bearcats from unexpected angles was set a pace that kept UC's shot attempts low.
I think they did a great job, coach Bob Huggins said. We tried to prepare for the full-court pressure in the one day we had, and we thought they'd play zone. They had a lot more success playing the 1-2-2 last year than they did 1-3-1, so we prepared for the 1-2-2.
The Bearcats shot 50 percent from the field, but scored only 64 points because they tried a season-low 13 free throws. That's the lowest total for them in 16 games.
We didn't attack the zone the way we would usually attack it, Satterfield said. We just sat out there and passed the ball back and forth. I guess we were just trying to figure it out a little bit.
The stat line wasn't impressive. Reggie Butler had no points and just one rebound in 13 minutes. But the 6-foot-10 junior played well. He held his own defensively and made few mistakes.
He played tough, physical, hard-nosed ball, sophomore Kevin Frey said.
I've been waiting for a couple years to get to this point, Butler said. I was just trying to be a presence down low, get in there, push guys around and keep them off the boards. That was my type of game. They're not really 6-7 guys who like to run. They're big guys who like to bang down low, and that's what I do.
Butler will have to keep playing well. With leading rebounder Aaron Turner suspended from the team indefinitely, Butler will be the first big man off the bench. Senior Obi Harris would be next in line to play.
Butler has played sparingly all season.
He's really got to step up and play well for us, Prosser said. Just do the things that he can do well, rebound and guard and when given the opportunity with the basketball close to the basket, score inside.
Prosser expected he would need Harris against the Bearcats, but the Xavier inside players stayed out of foul trouble all night.
There's no one more deserving of a day on the sun than Reggie Butler and I was thrilled to have it happen (against UC), Prosser said.
Athletic Director Mike Bobinski said Saturday night that it would be up to Prosser whether Turner who was not seen at the UC game practices with the Musketeers. He did not Sunday. Will he in the future?
We'll see, Prosser said. That's all I'm saying about that.
Maurice McAfee heard the buzzer and leaped in the air to celebrate XU's victory. A fan rushing the court ran by, clipped his legs and the junior point guard fell to the floor. Soon he was covered by a mass of bodies.
It felt like the whole gym, he said. Everybody was on top of me.
He was sore Sunday. His right leg, left shoulder and chest hurt, but he said his leg was fine and that he'd be OK.
It's kind of like when you're in a minor car crash and you don't feel anything until the next morning, he said.
McAfee was named co-player of the week in the Atlantic 10 (with Massachusetts guard Monty Mack) Sunday. McAfee had 12 of his 17 points in the second half and added three assists against UC. He received the honor for the first time in his career.
When hundreds of fans perhaps more than that stormed the court, the students with their bodies painted blue got the paint on four Xavier jerseys and three warm-up shirts. Frey's No.3 was in the worst condition.
Team managers soaked them in a stain remover, then washed them Sunday, and the blue paint did not come out. They will look into having the uniforms professionally cleaned. If that doesn't work, new ones might have to be ordered.
Since promising he would rejuvenate his senior season before the Bearcats played North Carolina, Mickeal has averaged 14.8 points and 8.3 rebounds in four games.
The Bearcats' 29 rebounds against XU were their fewest since they grabbed 25 against UNC Charlotte last January.
The Bearcats have blocked only five shots in the past two games. They averaged 7.1 before going on the road to Saint Louis.
UC had not shot 50 percent in a game and lost in the past two seasons.
Martin has three double-figure scoring/double-figure rebounding games in nine games.
Loss shows UC where it must improve
Big win could be turning point for XU
Reds wait for Guzman decision