Friday, December 15, 2000

Go to West, young men




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        Kenny Satterfield's shot was a little short. It fell on the front of the rim but not softly enough to slip through the net. It bounced high off the iron, then glanced gently off the backboard.

        Xavier's Kevin Frey went up to rebound the Cincinnati shot, but he jumped too soon. The ball had another bounce in it, again off the front of the rim. It hung in the air a moment amid the crosstown clamor at Shoemaker Center, until a huge hand emerged from beneath the basket, reached out and retrieved it.

        David West grabbed the unclaimed ball with authority and he passed it off with an expression that said ecstasy. The Xavier center had been in the middle of everything all night long, and now his work was almost done. His reward was rapture.

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David West shoots and draws a foul from Donald Little.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        Xavier beat the University of Cincinnati Thursday night, 69-67, and the Musketeers managed it mainly on West's broad shoulders. The Muskies shot miserably from the field — missing 33 of their 51 field goal tries — but they were wise enough to get the ball to West inside. When they didn't, he was good enough to go get it on his own.

Aggressive inside
        West would move toward the basket, and he'd get fouled. Then the 6-foot-8 sophomore would go to the line and he'd make free throws. He'd tuck in his shirt, take one deep breath and five dribbles, and put the ball through the net with piston-like precision.

        West was 15-of-19 from the free throw line, and he sank all 11 of his attempts from the line in the second half. He was better than his pregame statistics would have suggested, and he was more than equal to this moment. West put UC center Donald Little in foul trouble less than five minutes into the game, and he pretty much had his way with Little's replacements.

        He finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds and retained bragging rights for Victory Parkway.

Always in the right spot
        “Coach (Skip Prosser) had been stressing all week to pound the ball inside on these guys,” West said. “I was in a mindset that I could post aggressively. I knew that if there was any contact, the refs would call it.”

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West reacts to a foul call.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        The refs went to their whistles early and often Thursday night. Xavier would shoot 40 free throws, a remarkable total for a visiting team, and it was mainly attributable to aggressive positioning — David West's stock in trade.

        “My teammates are constantly looking for me,” West said, “but sometimes I don't get myself available.”

        He was where he needed to be on this night. He was there to get the critical Satterfield miss with about 15 seconds to play. Then, when the Bearcats were reprieved, given one more possession with a chance to tie, West left his post in the pivot to confront Satterfield at the top of the key.

        Because of their height differential, Satterfield was forced to take evasive action. He swerved to his right at the last second and rushed another shot off the front of the rim. Kevin Frey grabbed this one, and it was over.

        The Bearcats held a 15-point lead with six minutes to play in the first half, but it couldn't last. They couldn't cope with West inside and they couldn't find enough help for Satterfield.

        “We knew we needed this one,” David West said. “We were hungry. And we have to keep rolling from here.”

        E-mail: tsullivan@enquirer.com.

Xavier 69, UC 67
Strong defense is key to Muskies' victory
Crosstown Shootout Notebook
DAUGHERTY: Another Muskie ambush



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