Saturday, February 20, 1999

Butler gets another chance

Replaces suspended Turner against UMass

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Reggie Butler
        AMHERST, Mass. — It has been almost three months since Reggie Butler started a basketball game for Xavier. He's expected to be back in that role today.

        In the absence of suspended freshman Aaron Turner, Butler will be called upon to battle one of the best centers in the Atlantic 10 Conference when the Musketeers play Massachusetts and 6-foot-10 Lari Ketner.

        “A great opportunity,” Butler said Friday. “It's what you want.”

        Turner is suspended for one game after being cited last week by Cincinnati Police. According to a published report, Turner was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

• When: noon, today
• Where: Mullins Center (9,439)
• Records: Xavier 19-7, 11-2 A-10; Massachusetts 11-4, 7-6 A-10
• Radio: WLW-AM (700)
• 0-2: XU's record on ESPN this season (UC, Dayton)
• 5-0: XU's record against Atlantic 10 East Division opponents
• 1: Musketeers who scored in double figures against UMass last season (Gary Lumpkin, 19)
        Butler, a 6-10 sophomore, started the first six games of the season. In the first four, he averaged 6.3 points and 3.5 rebounds.

        At the Puerto Rico Shootout, his playing time dropped from 18 minutes a game to 10 against Pittsburgh to seven against Colorado to three against San Francisco.

        He did not play in the next three games and has been used sparingly since. In nine Atlantic 10 games, Butler has two points and seven rebounds in just 39 minutes.

        “When the team isn't winning, something has to change,” Butler said.

        “You could put Alvin Brown in this category, too — both those guys have practiced well enough to play,” XU coach Skip Prosser said Friday. “It's just sometimes hard to find enough minutes to get them playing time.

        “Their attitudes have been so good. I know they've been disgruntled. I wouldn't be happy if they were happy not playing.”

        Brown is stuck behind senior Lenny Brown, who averages 32.8 minutes and is hard to take out because he is XU's

        heart and soul and its top outside shooting threat. When Brown does come out, Gary Lumpkin often moves to shooting guard and sophomore reserve Maurice McAfee comes in at point guard.

        Butler's defense is what holds him back the most. In Puerto Rico, opponents were blowing by Xavier's press, and Butler wasn't able to stop them from going right to the basket.

        “It's always tough not playing, but I've just been trying to keep my head up,” Butler said. “You know how I work. I always want to keep my game up. You never know what's going to happen.”

        These days, when Butler makes a nice play during practice, he typically shows no emotion.

        “When you're not playing too much, that's your only game,” he said. “I've got to take it seriously.”

        Turner, who became eligible Jan. 12, has proven the most effective among the centers at the front of Xavier's full-court press despite his inexperience. And that allows Kevin Frey, who has proven he is capable of scoring, at the back of the press.

        Senior James Posey is the most effective player at the front of the press, but he is asked to do so many other things — score, rebound, de fend — that Prosser doesn't want to use Posey there all the time.

        It is the emergence and productivity of Frey and Turner that has affected not only Butler but Obi Harris. Harris, who will also be called upon today, has played a total of three minutes over the past four games. This, after starting 13 consecutive games.

        What XU may miss most without Turner, who did make the trip with the team, is his presence in the press.

        “We'll still try (to press),” Prosser said. “It's what we do. But we may pull it off if it's not effective.”

        Butler played six minutes Tuesday night against La Salle and scored his first points since Nov. 26.

        Prosser said that today Butler needs to help prevent UMass from getting offensive rebounds and defend Ketner in the low post.

        Aside from the personnel adjustments, Prosser said only time will tell whether the Musketeers are affected by Turner's suspension and the added distraction this late in the season.

        “I think that what they'll think is, "Let's move on,'” Prosser said. “Kids are probably more resilient than we think.”


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