Friday, January 15, 1999

Newcomer Turner sets Muskies abuzz

First game makes him talk of XU

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Aaron Turner
        Xavier freshman Aaron Turner was tired Thursday. That's because he couldn't fall asleep until 6 a.m. after appearing in his first Division I basketball game Wednesday night.

        Turner made an immediate impact for the Musketeers in their 62-57 victory over St. Bonaventure. He played 10 minutes, had two points, four rebounds, one assist, took a charge and blocked a shot into the seats.

        His mother, who attended the game, was crying when she hugged him afterward. Turner said he “smiled for eight hours straight. I was like a little kid.”

        On Thursday, he heard from teachers, fellow students, adults he didn't even know. “Nice game,” they all said.

        There was a buzz about the basketball team that even coach Skip Prosser detected to some degree.

        “I think people were sur prised he played 10 minutes and how well he did in the 10 minutes,” Prosser said. “I think everybody liked his energy. He didn't really make any mistakes.”

        Well, there was the alley-oop pass from Lenny Brown that slipped through Turner's hands. He took the blame, saying he should've caught it. And his teammates gave him some good-natured ribbing about not finishing the play.

        That Turner played well was not surprising. He has been a force in practice all season. Still, Prosser wasn't sure how he'd respond in a game — let alone his first after being declared academically eligible.

        “I was surprised at how comfortable he looked,” Prosser said Thursday. “(It was) more than I could've hoped for.”

        How does the 6-foot-7 Turner fit in?

        Prosser is not concerned whether Turner works his way into the starting lineup or when that could happen. However, Turner can expect to see more minutes than Wednesday, and his playing time will increase if he continues to produce.

        Junior center Obi Harris and freshman forward Kevin Frey are likely to lose some time. Essentially, whoever plays best will play more.

        “I think he deserves to play,” Prosser said of Turner. “He's athletic, and he's a little bit of a presence inside. If he practices well, then he'll be rewarded with minutes in a game.

        “The kids work those minutes out. There's only 200 minutes and everybody can't play as much as they would like to play.”

        Turner is popular among his teammates. Because he plays hard in practice, he also has earned their respect.

        Fans, too, responded Wednesday night. When Turner's name was announced, most of the crowd stood and cheered. And with each big play he made, the ovations got louder.

        “Everybody seemed happy,” Turner said. “I felt good. They liked me. I didn't want to come out and mess up. They appreciated it; they've been waiting just like me.”

        Turner admits that practice is different for him now. He said he listens more closely and works harder on every play. He stayed after practice Thursday to shoot free throws and work on post moves.

        “It's like a totally different game,” Turner said. “Now it counts. I'm loving it.”

        NOTEWORTHY: Senior James Posey suffered a mild sprained ankle Wednesday and was limited in practice Thursday. Trainer David Fluker said Posey will be ready for Sunday's game against George Washington.


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