Tuesday, February 23, 1999


Dayton ready for XU's senior pressure

        ×by BY MICHAEL PERRY The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Some fun this is. Dayton gets to be Xavier's opponent for Senior Night for the second straight year (7:30p.m. Wednesday).

        “It's certainly not a day at the beach,” UD coach Oliver Purnell said.

        “I just think that we're going to be faced with an emotional burst like we haven't faced all year long. I really believe that.”

        The Flyers have not won at the Cincinnati Gardens since January 1973 and have dropped 13 straight there.

        Dayton (10-14, 5-9) is in fifth place in the Atlantic 10 West Division and trying to gain momentum for the conference tournament.

        Since beating XU at Dayton on Jan. 30, the Flyers are 1-4, with their only other victory coming at home against Duquesne (1-13 A-10).

        The Flyers played at the Cincinnati Gardens last year in the final game for XU's seniors and — with both teams trying to capture the top seed from the West Division — trailed 7-0 early. Dayton regrouped and led by as many as 14 points late in the first half, but XU rallied to win 89-84.

        “We need to kind of call on that experience and remind and recount what it's going to be like,” Purnell said. “... We talk about the atmosphere, we show film from last year in terms of what it's going to be like down there.

        “If you can get to the last two, three minutes, a lot of times the pressure sort of shifts to the home team on Senior Night.”

        LOOKING AHEAD: No matter what XU (19-8) does Wednesday night, it still would clinch the No.1 seed in the West and at least a share of the division title by winning at George Washington (17-7) on Saturday (noon, ESPN).

        The Musketeers and Colonials are tied atop the West at 11-3, and Xavier won the first meeting between the teams. GW, unbeaten at home this season, plays host to Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.

        So, what's the different between being the No.1 or 2 seed?

        Well, the No.2 seed from the West faces a tougher road in the conference tourney.

        If the season ended today, the West's top seed would play its first game against the winner of Dayton and St. Bonaventure, then face Rhode Island in the semifinals.

        The West's No.2 seed would face the Massachusetts-Duquesne winner (pencil in the Minutemen), then likely have to meet Temple, the top seed from the East Division, in the semifinals.

        PARTING THOUGHTS: XU, GW, Temple and Rhode Island have clinched tournament first-round byes and won't have to play more than three games. No team has ever won four straight days to win the tourney.

        TURNER'S BACK: XU freshman center Aaron Turner will return from his one-game suspension and play against Dayton, coach Skip Prosser said, adding that he wasn't sure if Turner will start. Turner had started three straight games before his suspension and practiced Monday with the starting group until hurting his ankle.

        TICKET INFO: If interested in tickets for the conference tournament in Philadelphia (March 3-6), call the Xavier ticket office at 745-3411 for all-session packages only. The cost: $110. You can also call (215) 336-2000 for single-session and all-session tickets. The games are at the First Union Spectrum.


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