Monday, December 28, 1998

All for one, one for all again

Musketeers' victories help team chemistry

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MORAGA, Calif. — Xavier coach Skip Prosser suggests it might be a chicken-or-the-egg type question: Does winning help a team develop good chemistry, or does good chemistry help a team win?

        We ask this as the Musketeers take a two-game winning streak — after losing four of six — into tonight's game at St. Mary's College (10:30 p.m. EST).

XU at St. Mary's College
        • When: 10:30 p.m. today
        • Where: McKeon Pavilion (3,500), Moraga, Calif.
        • Records: Xavier 7-4, St. Mary's 7-7
        • TV: None
        • Radio: WLW-AM (700)
        • 22-4: St. Mary's home record since 1996-97 season
        • 3: Schools from West Coast Conference that XU will have played (San Francisco, Loyola Marymount, St. Mary's)
        • 3: Times St. Mary's has been to the NCAA tourney (last in '97)
        • 3: St. Mary's starters shooting better than 40 percent from three-point range (Schraeder, Allocco, Greer)
        Though it has been against weaker opponents, Xavier (7-4) has had good back-to-back performances, beating Canisius by 30 and Loyola Marymount by 45.

        The players seem to be working together better in games and practices. Roles are more clearly defined.

        “I'm starting to see it,” injured senior Darnell Williams said. “It seems like they're getting more chemistry ... It always takes time for teams to gel. Some teams it takes longer than others.”

        Said Prosser: “I think when guys feel better about themselves, they have more confidence in themselves and more confidence in their teammates.”

        Xavier coaches and fans have been spoiled the past couple years. For the most part, the players seemed to know and accept their roles from the start of practices in October.

        There was only one purpose: Winning.

        That has taken time to develop this season. New players have had to mesh with veterans.

        But with competition for playing time, it has seemed at times that players were more concerned with their individual situations than the team's.

        Some changes have taken place the past two weeks. Junior Desmond Walker left the team, unhappy with a lack of playing time. Junior Obi Harris was inserted into the starting lineup. Freshman Lloyd Price is coming off the bench.

        Prosser has settled on a seven-man rotation, using Price and sophomore Maurice McAfee has his main substitutes.

        “You have to just do what he asks,” Williams said. “When a team is successful, you're successful. If we win the title, everybody gets a ring, not just the guys who played. When I was a freshman, I didn't really understand that; I just wanted to play.”

        “When you lose, you have a tendency to be like, well that didn't work so I'm going to try something my way,” senior Lenny Brown said. “When you win, everything falls into place.”

        “Overall, it's coming together,” senior Gary Lumpkin said. “I think Lloyd Price has done a good job of dealing with coming off the bench and turning it into a positive instead of looking at it as, "I'm not starting anymore.' Everybody is just accepting their roles. Guys are playing harder now. I think we're playing smarter. Hopefully it can continue.”

        Xavier will have to play well tonight to keep winning.

        St. Mary's is 7-7, but three losses have come in overtime and two others by six points or less.

        Power forward Eric Schraeder (21.6 ppg) is the team's top three-point shooter and free-throw shooter.

        “I don't think Schraeder's good enough for the NBA, but he's good enough that people better know who he is,” St. Mary's coach Dave Bollwinkel said.

        St. Mary's is in the same conference as Loyola Marymount, but a cut above the Lions, whom XU defeated a week ago.

        This is Xavier's last tuneup before league play begins Sunday against Rhode Island.

        The Musketeers were off Tuesday through Thursday before returning to practice Christmas night. They traveled Saturday to northern California.

        It's a big game, Prosser said, because it gives Xavier a chance to beat a good team on the road and go into the conference season with confidence.

        “I think the mental part, as (Indiana) coach (Bob) Knight says, is three or four times as important as the physical part,” Prosser said. “I think there's a lot of truth to that.”

All 1998 Xavier Stories

Brown says meeting with Gregg not business
Bengals picking third
1999 Opponents
The buck stops here, players say
Game statistics
UC 53, DAYTON 51
No reason to believe it'll get better
College sports at what cost?
These fish byting online