Tuesday, January 19, 1999

ESPN The Magazine to feature XU

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Xavier is headed for some big-time national exposure.

        John Gustafson of ESPN The Magazine will spend time with the Musketeers for a story about a week in the life of a college basketball team. The publication was looking for a team with good story lines, an interesting coach, a solid program and not too high a profile.

        “Xavier has been around the top 25 and people don't really know a whole lot about the program,” Gustafson said. “We don't want it to be like A Season on the Brink. That was focused a lot on (Indiana coach) Bob Knight. We want to show the players.”

        He hoped to meet the Musketeers tonight in New York and will come to Cincinnati with the team Thursday. Gustafson plans to stay around until after the Jan. 28 Crosstown Shootout, then write for the Feb. 11 issue.

        HARD-LUCK RAMS: Xavier plays Wednesday night against Fordham, one of the more improved teams in the Atlantic 10 despite its 0-5 start in league play. The program is bringing in better players and is more competitive than it has been since joining the A-10 in 1995-96.

        Fordham (6-8) has led at halftime in its last three games against St. Joseph's (by 4), Rhode Island (8) and Temple (7).

        “I think they're due to get somebody,” Xavier coach Skip Prosser said, “and we just have to try mightily to make sure it's not us.”

        Fordham's five A-10 losses are by an average of 8.8 points. Its first year in the league, it lost by an average of 18.4 points. Coach Nick Macarchuk said his team can't shoot, rebound or stop opponents defensively, but added the Rams have improved because of a “grit” and “toughness” they never had before.

        “Because we've gotten pounded so much, I just don't think the kids believed they could win,” he said. “But we have better players now. Our players have confidence ... that they're good enough to compete in this league.”

        LOOKING AHEAD: Xavier's next two opponents (Fordham and Virginia Tech) are a collective 0-10 in Atlantic 10 play. Then the schedule gets tougher. In order, the Musketeers play at Cincinnati (8-0 at home), at Dayton (where XU hasn't won since '94) and at St. Joseph's (6-0 at home).

        JUST A THEORY: Perhaps XU remains unranked because its eight straight victories have come against teams with a combined record of 56-69, and only two have winning records (Rhode Island 9-8, George Washington 9-5).

        NOTABLE NUMBERS: In two games last week, junior center Obi Harris was 5-of-5 from the field with 10 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots. In his previous three games, Harris had no points, five rebounds and three blocks.

        • Over the past seven games, Gary Lumpkin has averaged 14.7 points, shot 50.7 percent from the field and 40 percent from the three-point range. During XU's first 10 games, the senior point guard averaged 10.8 points, shot 34.4 percent from the field and 16 percent on threes. Lumpkin will start his 100th consecutive game Wednesday night.

        • Xavier's last three opponents averaged 53.3 points a game and shot 32 percent from the field.


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