XU knows the pitfalls
Muskies mustn't get starry-eyed

Thursday, November 26, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Coach Skip Prosser spent little time congratulating his Xavier basketball team on its 33-point victory over Morgan State on Monday night.

After dispensing with few words about that game in the locker room, Prosser turned to assistant coach Mark Schmidt for a brief scouting report on the University of Pittsburgh.

"We wanted them to think about Pitt right away," Prosser said. "It kind of caught us by surprise," point guard Gary Lumpkin said.

"I didn't even get a chance to absorb that win," senior Lenny Brown said. "That was my best game so far this year, and as soon as the horn sounded, I forgot about it."

  • When: 4 p.m. today, (Cincinnati time)
  • Where: American University of Puerto Rico
  • Records: XU 3-0,
  • Pittsburgh 4-0
  • TV: Fox Sports Ohio
  • Radio: WLW-AM (700)
  • 40.1: Minutes per game averaged by Pitt point guard Vonteego Cummings last season
  • 40: Minutes in a regulation game
  • 1986: Last time XU and Pitt met (Pitt won 99-76)
  • The 13th-ranked Musketeers face Pittsburgh today in their first game of the Puerto Rico Shootout. The tournament includes seven unbeaten teams from the states, as well as host American University of Puerto Rico.

    In addition to Xavier, there is No. 4 Kentucky, No. 5 Maryland and No. 10 UCLA. With San Francisco, Colorado and Pitt, the seven teams are a combined 21-0.

    "It's a measuring stick to see how we compare to these teams," Xavier senior James Posey said. "Everyone on our team, we want to play everyone. If we could make the schedule, Kentucky, the North Carolinas, Marylands would almost definitely be on it."

    Xavier has a chance to play two of the other ranked teams. If the Musketeers win today, they play the Kentucky-Colorado winner. Then they would likely meet UCLA or Maryland.

    While Musketeer fans have been pointing toward the first game against the defending national champion Wildcats in 30 years, Prosser has not so much as mentioned the name Kentucky, nor has he even addressed the possibility of that matchup with the media.

    • Game 1 -- 11 a.m.: Kentucky (3-0) vs. Colorado (4-0)
    • Game 2 -- 1:30 p.m.: Maryland (4-0) vs. American University
    • Game 3 -- 4 p.m.: Xavier (3-0) vs. Pittsburgh (4-0)
    • Game 4 -- 6:30 p.m.: UCLA (1-0) vs. San Francisco (2-0)

    • Game 5 -- 11 a.m.: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 3
    • Game 6 -- 1:30 p.m.: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 4
    • Game 7 -- 4 p.m.: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3
    • Game 8 -- 6:30 p.m.: Loser Game 2 vs. Loser Game 4

    • 11 a.m.: Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8
    • 1:30 p.m.: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8
    • 4 p.m.: Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6 (third-place game)
    • 6:30 p.m.: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 (championship) 

    "We have way too much respect for Pitt," he said. "I think the players know we have a lot of work to do, and they're cognizant of the fact that we can't look beyond anybody.

    "We're going to have to fight like heck to get by Pitt, and we'll see what happens after that."

    The Panthers are a legitimate threat to roadblock a UK-XU showdown. Pittsburgh returned its top seven players from a year ago, including all five starters. It has an All-American candidate in senior point guard Vonteego Cummings, who averages 23.3 points a game.

    Cummings broke a bone in his left hand the first week of practice and missed Pitt's first game. He still lacks flexibility in his hand, which is sore, but coach Ralph Willard said Cummings "at 85 percent is worth anybody else we have at 100 percent."

    In his second game back from his injury, Cummings scored 30 points at Wright State, including 13 of his team's last 15. His career high is 37.

    "He's the key," Prosser said. "He's the kind of guy who can lift a team up and carry them by himself."

    In addition to Cummings, 6-8 sophomore Stephen Flores broke his thumb and has played a total of six minutes. Freshman Chris Seabrooks is recovering from offseason knee surgery and has totaled seven minutes, and freshman Fred Primus missed a game with tendinitis. Starting forward Attila Cosby sprained his ankle Monday night against Texas Pan-Am. He was limited in practice Wednesday, and if he does play today he won't be 100 percent.

    With all that said, Pitt is 4-0 for the first time in five years. The Panthers have Xavier's attention. The Musketeers practiced twice Wednesday. It will be their best test so far, and possibly the prelude to a stretch against four top-25 teams.

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