Tuesday, March 09, 1999

Muskies deal with reality, NIT

Posey: 'You just have to accept it'

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        James Posey went back to his room Sunday night, turned on the television and sat there. As the NCAA Tournament brackets were discussed, he kept hoping to see Xavier's name appear on the screen.

        “I didn't sleep really,” the XU senior forward said Monday. “I stayed up most of the night and just thought about a lot of things. I took a power nap for 30 minutes or 15 minutes. Other than that, I've been up.”

        The Day After at Xavier was no better than Sunday night when the Musketeers learned they would not be in the 64-team NCAA field.

        Getting ready for Toledo (7p.m. Wednesday) and its first-round National Invitation Tournament game will require more than simply correcting the on-court errors of Xavier's Dec.9 loss to the Rockets.

        It is going to take a mental and emotional adjustment.

        “Right now, I'm having a tough time coming up here to practice,” senior Gary Lumpkin said before XU's afternoon workout. “We're in a tough situation seeing as how we think we should be somewhere else and we're not.”

        Said senior guard Lenny Brown: “Everybody had different feelings. .. NIT, nobody really cares about. It's not the NCAA, that's what everybody shoots for. At the beginning of the year, nobody wants to say, "Let's prepare to go to the NIT.'”

        Said Posey: “They're not going to call us up today and say we're in it. That hasn't happened. You just have to accept it and plan on winning the next game.”

        Everywhere coach Skip Prosser went Monday, people asked how he was doing. “Lousy,” was his answer on more than one occasion. He had more than two dozen messages at the office from friends in and out of the coaching profession “as if there's been a death in the family.”

        He wasn't alone in believing the Musketeers deserved a spot in the NCAA. At least four Internet web sites (ESPN, The Sporting News, Fox Sports, CNN/SI) conducted fan polls asking which team had the most legitimate gripe about being left out of the NCAA.

        By mid-afternoon, Xavier was well ahead on all four.

        The challenge for Prosser is getting his team ready to play in a tournament it doesn't want to be in.

        “We've got to roll on,” he said. “There's absolutely nothing we can do about it. The way it's conducted, it's like an executive session of Congress where it's all behind closed doors, and we never really get to find out why, and there's no appeal. That's disconcerting, but that's reality.”

        At least Prosser has a built-in revenge factor to use to motivate the players.

        “At least the kids are familiar with Toledo, and they know that Toledo beat us and they really enjoyed doing it, if I remember correctly,” Prosser said.

        On a conference call with Atlantic 10 coaches Monday morning, George Washington's Tom Penders said he hoped Xavier would prove the NCAA Tournament selection committee wrong by winning the NIT.

        “If they go in with the right frame of mind, which should be pissed off, they have a chance to win the whole thing,” Penders said. “That's the only way to go into the NIT. If you go in with a negative attitude, you'll be gone in one night, and I'm the king of that. I've never won a game in the NIT.”

        NIT TALK: If Xavier beats Toledo, the Musketeers play the winner of Alabama (17-14) and Wake Forest (16-13) on March 15 or 16. XU is trying to get that to be a home game at the Cincinnati Gardens.

        ALL-TOURNEY: Brown was picked to the A-10 all-tournament team. He averaged 23 points in two games.

        Also on the team: MVP Lamar Odom (Rhode Island), Antonio Reynolds-Dean (Rhode Island), Mark Karcher (Temple) and Lamont Barnes (Temple).


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- Muskies deal with reality, NIT

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