Wednesday, January 20, 1999

Price increases his value on the bench


Freshman accepts role

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[price]
Lloyd Price

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        Statistics don't always tell the story.

        In 20 minutes against George Washington Sunday, Xavier freshman Lloyd Price scored four points. Yet afterward, coach Skip Prosser was quick to praise Price's play.

        You see, he also had three rebounds, two assists, two steals and played solid defense.

        “I thought I had a good game,” Price said.

        The Musketeers put their eight-game winning streak on the line tonight at Fordham (7 p.m., Channel 9).

        Their improvement over the past month has to do with more than better defense and shot selection. XU players are trusting each other and have accepted roles.

        The poster child for that is Price, the highest-rated recruit in Xavier history. Price started the first nine games, then started coming off the bench.

XU at FORDHAM
• When: 7 p.m. today
• Where: Rose Hill Gym (3,470), Bronx, N.Y.
• Records: Xavier 13-4, 5-0 A-10; Fordham 6-8, 0-5
• TV: Channel 9
• Radio: WLW-AM (700)
BY THE NUMBERS2: XU players from New York coming home (Obi Harris, Darnell Williams)
• 190: Career three-pointers by Gary Lumpkin, first in XU history
• 181: Career three-pointers by Lenny Brown, second in XU history
        The Musketeers were struggling at 5-4 when Prosser called Price in and said, “We're going to try something different and guess who's not starting?”

        “I went through my whole litany of James Posey stories ... and how well it's worked out with James,” Prosser said. “As a freshman, Lloyd could've been resistant to that, and he was anything but. I think that speaks well for him as a person.”

        Posey, of course, was a reserve for two years, the Atlantic 10 Sixth Man Award winner twice and is now a starter and possibly headed for an NBA career.

        The attention and acclaim afforded Posey despite his not starting will provide Prosser with ammunition for years. When the coach speaks of how helping the team won't hurt the player, he has credibility.

        The change had nothing to do with Price. Xavier needed a bigger lineup and 6-foot-10 junior Obi Harris was coming back from a broken finger. Prosser also felt the Musketeers had been successful the past two years with Posey coming off the bench to give the team a spark.

        Price, he thought, could provide the same kind of energy.

        The much-heralded freshman scored in double figures in six of his first nine games, and was Xavier's leading scorer with a career-high 18 points in his last start (at Toledo).

        Price's numbers have gone down since. He has averaged 19.3 minutes, 7.1 points and 3.3 rebounds during the winning streak. As a starter, he averaged 32.3 minutes, 11.7 points and 4.9 rebounds.

        “I worry about who wins more than the stat sheet,” Price said. “Everybody wants to start. But if Coach can find a remedy that's going to make the team play a lot better, that's what I'm all about.”

        “You try very hard in the recruiting process to identify tough kids, but also good kids, and he's a great kid, not just a good kid,” Prosser said. “Him being a great kid was a big part of his accepting that.”

        Price came in with a reputation as a big-time scorer, but he has perhaps been even more valuable with his rebounding and defense.

        His outside shooting has been poor (4-of-27 from three-point range), and Price said he is learning to pull up for short-range jump shots after driving past a first defender. In the past, once he got by one man, he was going to the basket — which he does with flare. Now, he runs into more help-side defense and bigger opponents in the lane.

        and. To his credit he's worked at getting better,” Prosser said. “And he's learned how to play hard.”

        There is no more evidence of that than on the defensive end. Price is third on the team with 29 steals.

        “I enjoy stealing the ball,” he said. “I enjoy getting up on my defender and him passing the ball because he's scared I'm going to steal it. I wanted to improve my "D,' but I didn't know I was going to fall in love with playing "D.'

        “And I think my defense is going to set my offense off.”



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