Wednesday, January 27, 1999

Xavier seniors hold 2-1 edge on UC




BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[brown]
Lenny Brown beats No. 1 UC at the buzzer in 1996.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        When Xavier's seniors came from other cities to Cincinnati in 1995, they knew nothing about the Musketeers' rivalry with the University of Cincinnati.

        Three and a half years later, they are far more educated about the event that is the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout, but they are not as emotional about it as some of the more rabid fans they hear about. They don't hate UC.

        “I like this game,” XU senior Lenny Brown said. “I love playing rival games. I love playing in a hostile environment. But I still don't feel it like the people who live here feel it. It separates husband and wife. I guess you've got to live here to feel all that.”

        The tone of this game has changed over the years. When Skip Prosser took over for Pete Gillen as Xavier's coach in 1994-95, some of the ten sion was taken out of the Shootout.

        Prosser's admirable feelings about Bearcats coach Bob Huggins and the success of his program have trickled down to his players.

        “I love to play basketball, and you can tell that coach Huggins loves players who like to play hard,” Brown said. “I respect him for that. He's a great coach. I don't hate any of them. I don't take it that far. I might hate them when I get on the court, but I don't hate them like if I see them on the streets.”

        Brown and point guard Gary Lumpkin will be starting their fourth Shootout. Togeth er, they have averaged 34.7 in the first three meetings (Brown 18 ppg, Lumpkin 16.7).

        “I definitely don't despise them at all,” Lumpkin said. “They play hard and they have some pretty good guys over there. I can't knock them for what they're trying to do. I mean, they're trying to win just like we are.”

        “I hope they do well,” said injured senior Darnell Williams, who scored 24 points against UC as a freshman. “But you don't want them to do well when they play us. They never did anything to me for me to dislike them or hate them.”

        With all that said, the Musketeer seniors take great satisfaction in their 2-1 record against UC and the fact that Xavier has an opportunity to win three straight against the Bearcats for the first time since 1984-86.

        Senior James Posey gets his third crack at UC and has a chance to go undefeated against the Bear cats. Well, officially.

        Though academically ineligible as a freshman, Posey said, “I'll take that as an "L,' ” because his class was part of that defeat.

        “I want to go out on top winning it three years in a row,” he said. “I don't want to split anything with them. No sharing.”

        Xavier just missed getting into the Associated Press rankings this week, coming in at No. 26.

        A victory over the fifth-ranked Bearcats would give Xavier 11 in a row and certainly boost them into the national spotlight — just as it happened after the November 1996 upset over then-No. 1 UC at Shoemaker Center.

        “It's just a bragging right; that's all it is,” Brown said. “I want to make it the Final Four. I'm looking at bigger things, and this isn't bigger than making it to the NCAA Tournament. I just look at it as that's a team that's trying to stop us from making it to the tournament.”

        “People talk about them like that's the only school here,” Posey said. “It gets frustrating. We've been winning here. Nobody gives us credit. Everybody talks about them.

        “But it's cool. We know we have good players over here; we've been wining over here. We're one of the top teams in the nation. We just let our actions speak.”

       



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