Tuesday, March 02, 1999

ATLANTIC-10 NOTEBOOK


Coaches expect 3 NCAA bids

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Atlantic 10 Conference coaches on Monday said they expect at least three teams in the NCAA Tournament field: Temple, George Washington and Xavier.

        While the Musketeers, with a Rating Percentage Index ranking of 65, could be considered the biggest question mark of those three, George Washington coach Tom Penders doesn't believe that at all.

        “Xavier is a tournament team, and I would be shocked if they don't get to the Sweet 16,” Penders said. “They're outstanding.

        “We've played Stanford, Temple ... We've played some fine non-league games. Xavier is the best team that we've played all year. They've got two legitimate All-Americans in (James) Posey and (Lenny) Brown, and they're one of the quickest, most athletic teams, and I'd think they'd be anybody's nightmare to face in the NCAA Tournament.”

        UNDERRATED? GW, meanwhile, continues to be overlooked nationally. The Colonials, who have won 15 of their last 18 games, received just two voting points in the most recent USA Today/ESPN poll, prompting Penders to say: “The coaches' poll's a joke.”

        “I look at 15 through 25 in the poll and (say) bring 'em on,” Penders said.

        This is his 28th year of coaching. He has taken nine teams from Rhode Island or Texas to the NCAA Tournament, and Penders said this is one of his better squads. He does not know why GW is being ignored.

        “We don't get any respect, and it's the time of year that coaches don't want to be respected,” he said. “I know our kids will be very hungry.

        “All I have to do is tack this up on the wall of each kid's locker before practice today.”

        POSEY HONORED: For the second straight week, Posey shared the league's Player of the Week honor. He averaged 25.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in two games last week and has averaged 22.5 points and 11.5 rebounds over the last four games.

        THE NEEDY: Rhode Island coach Jim Harrick said his team needs to at least get to the conference tournament final to be considered for an NCAA Tournament berth. The Rams are 17-12 and have lost two straight games (to St. Bonaventure and Fordham).

        “I've been in the tournament enough to know that you play your way in and you play your way out, and I would think we've probably played our way out if we don't get into the finals,” he said.

        DEPLETED OWLS: Temple coach John Chaney thought he had it made in the preseason with five quality guards. “I was licking my chops,” he said. Now he enters the Bell Atlantic Atlantic 10 tournament with three and says he's “strapping on a lifesaver.”

        Junior Quincy Wadley, who provides scoring off the bench, suffered a severly bruised left hand and is questionable for Temple's first game Thursday. Chaney said Wadley is expected to be out seven to 10 days. Sophomore Lynn Greer suffered a season-ending eye injury early in the season.

        NO SURPRISE HERE: Rhode Island freshman Lamar Odom was named the conference rookie of the week for a record 10th time. He leads the Rams in scoring (17.5 ppg) and rebounding (9.4 rpg).

        Odom missed Sunday's game against Fordham with the flu but is expected to be ready for URI's first tournament game Thursday against the La Salle-St. Joseph's winner.

       



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