Thursday, February 04, 1999

Posey seeks revenge on St. Joe's

XU senior faces friendly foe

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When members of the U.S. Goodwill Games team were going through shooting drills last summer, the players would imagine an opponent.

        Duke. The shot is up, it's good.

        James Posey would look at U.S. assistant coach Phil Martelli and smile.

        St. Joseph's. It's up, it's good.

• When: 7 p.m. today
• Where: Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse (3,200)
• Records: Xavier 15-6, 7-1 A-10; St. Joseph's 9-11, 3-5 A-10
• TV: Fox Sports Ohio
• Radio: WLW-AM (700)
• 1: Victory needed by Skip Prosser to become the second all-time winningest coach at Xavier by himself. He's tied with Clem Crowe with 96 victories, trailing only Pete Gillen (202).
• 6-6: XU's record this season away from the Gardens.
• 5-0: XU's record in Philadelphia last season.
        The Xavier senior feels there's a score to settle with Martelli, the St. Joseph's coach.

        Two years ago, the Musketeers went into Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse in Philadelphia ranked 17th in the country and got blown out 79-65. It was 51-28 at halftime. XU was never in the game.

        “They seem to have long memories about what happened here,” Martelli said. “I don't have anybody from that team left, but Posey all summer (was) busting my chops about that game and what he was going to do to me this year.

        “In fact, when we won the gold medal, I said to him: "Remember, I helped you get this gold medal, so you've got to take it a little easy on me when you come to Philadelphia.' ”

        It's time.

        The Musketeers play at 7 p.m. tonight at St. Joseph's, where they have not won since 1963.

        Xavier is sporting a two-game losing streak. The Hawks have dropped four straight. Po sey is coming off a career-high 32 points at Dayton.

        “I'm sure that we'll exchange pleasantries,” Martelli said. “I just see it as a competition, and when the game ends, I'll look forward to shaking his hand and wishing him well. I will really follow his career and I hope that he gets to pull on a baseball hat when they call names in June at the NBA draft.”

        Said Posey: “We might have a couple jokes before, but once the ball goes in the air, we're trying to get a win.”

        Players and coaches in each league compete against each other for as many as four years. Xavier coaches know how opponents play, their tendencies, what they mean to their teams. Players know opposing coaches from how they prepare for games and how they behave on sidelines.

        Often, that is the extent of it.

        Martelli and Posey knew little about each other personally going into tryouts for the Goodwill Games team. Posey eventually earned a roster spot and became a key member of the championship team.

        “Xavier does it with hard-playing guys who understand where they've got to fit and that's what I expected from James Posey,” Martelli said. “But I didn't know if he was quiet or noisy. I was really looking forward to getting to know him.

        “Sometimes in this business we build up like these fake animosities and we don't even know each other. I don't think it has to be like that. It can be a situation where we learn from each other and enjoy each other's company and obviously compete when we play.”

        Posey learned that Martelli is funny and “a classy guy.” Martelli learned how receptive Posey was to coaching, how unaffected by success he is.

        “I love that kid,” Martelli said. “I wish only the very best for him other than Thursday night. I told him that if he wanted to play his last year at St. Joe's, I could find a spot for him.”

        Posey has played against two of his Goodwill Games teammates: Wally Szczerbiak of Miami and Brian Cardinal from Purdue. He is 1-1.

        He has not watched tape of the 1997 St. Joseph's debacle in two years.

        “But in the back of my mind, I know what happened there and it wasn't a pretty sight,” Posey said. “I don't need a tape to refresh my memory.

        “Since he's the coach, I just wonder what their game plan's going to be against me. I don't know. I'm just looking forward to it.”


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