Brown reaches long-range goals

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Nobody would have predicted this.

Not Xavier coach Skip Prosser. Not long-time teammate Gary Lumpkin. Not even Lenny Brown himself.

The senior guard is about to become one of Xavier's top 10 all-time scorers, and to do so he has transformed his game from when he was a freshman.

• When: 7 p.m. today
• Where: Cincinnati Gardens (10,100)
• Records: Loyola Marymount 4-5, Xavier 6-4
• TV: None
• Radio: WLW-AM (700)
• 8: Points needed by James Posey to become 36th member of XU's 1,000-point club.
• 24: Points Gary Lumpkin scored against Loyola Marymount two years ago
• 3.0: Freshman Kevin Frey's scoring average the first five games
• 8.2: Frey's scoring average the past five games
Brown, who leads XU into tonight's game against Loyola Marymount (7 p.m., Cincinnati Gardens), has become the Musketeers' best outside shooter. His three-point percentage has increased every season: From 32.6 as a freshman, to 33.7, to 36.6, to 42.2 this season. The school record is 45 percent (Colin Parker, 1990-91).

In 10 games this fall, he has 27 three-pointers; the rest of the Musketeers have 31 combined and are shooting just 22.3 percent from long-range.

Brown has hit five three-pointers four times in his career and twice this season (Chicago State, Canisius). He is shooting better from behind the arc (42.2 percent) than he is inside it (38.1 percent).

The irony to all this is that Brown hardly ever shot from the perimeter in grade school, high school or prep school. He was a “slasher,” a player known only for driving to the basket.

“I never thought he'd develop into this good of a shooter,” said Lumpkin, who is playing with Brown for the eighth year. “He's really stroking it from anywhere. (Saturday) night he took one from about 30 feet and nailed it. But he's been working really hard at it, and I'm not surprised at how good he's gotten.”

“When he got here his mechanics were bad in terms of his technique,” said assistant coach Jeff Battle said. “Initially watching his shot and his form, I would not think he would be our leading three-point shooter.“

With 1,375 career points, Brown needs 10 to pass Jeff Jenkins and become No. 10 on the all-time scoring list. In 96 games, he has already passed Jamal Walker (120 games), Michael Davenport (125), Dexter Bailey (118) and Richie Harris (111). Last season, Brown set a team record with 81 steals.

Brown has scored in double figures eight times this season, and XU is 0-2 when he hasn't. He had 21 points against Canisius in XU's 30-point victory Saturday night, including three straight three-pointers in the first half.

“If I am to play basketball at any other level, I'm going to have to be a point guard, so I'm trying to get my floor game better,” the 6-foot-2 Brown said. “I've got to develop my jump shot, ball handling, court awareness and stuff like that.

“It's funny. Now I hang out around the three-point line. I like when teams go zone. I just find an open spot and knock the shot down.”

He considered leaving Xavier as a freshman, but when he decided to stay, Brown also decided to buy into the program and listen to his coaches.

They told him that to be a great player, he'd have to be more than a guy who could take the ball to the basket. Playing against bigger opponents, that wouldn't always be possible.

That he has transformed himself into a complete shooting guard is testimony to Brown's maturity on and off the court, his work ethic and determination to improve.

Not to mention his competitiveness. When recruiting Brown, Prosser most “liked the fact that he hated to lose.”

“I thought that would be a good thing to have on our team,” Prosser said. “He is still that way. He works at his game more than other people really know ... He cares about winning, he cares about his teammates. He doesn't do everything perfect all the time, but then again who does?”

Walker says he's leaving XU