Monday, March 22, 1999

Posey finds 3-point shot


XU star adds long distance to repertoire

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        James Posey is going out with a bang. Well, actually a swish.

        As Xavier (24-10) readies for its National Invitation Tournament semifinal game against Clemson (19-14) on Tuesday night in New York, the senior is shooting the ball better than ever.

        During the last 16 games, Posey is 32-of-70 (.457) from three-point range.

        Starting with Xavier's do-or-die game at George Washington, the team's No.2 scorer (17 ppg) has gone 18-of-32 (.563) from behind the arc. Posey also has been the Musketeers' leading scorer in all three NIT games, averaging 20.7 points.

        His first two seasons at Xavier, the 6-foot-8 forward totaled 25 threes; this season he has 44.

        “We've just been demanding that he be more assertive,” coach Skip Prosser said. “During stretches, he was allowing the game to pass him by. He's talented enough that he needs to seize the game at times. We're telling him, "You worked all summer on that shot — shoot the ball!'”

        Even Wednesday night against Princeton, Posey passed up a wide-open 15 footer.

        “Really it's a mental thing with him,” Prosser said. “He's so unselfish, almost to a fault.”

        In October, it seemed like Posey couldn't miss.

        He had improved his outside shot during the offseason. When he launched a three-pointer during practice, everyone assumed it was going in.

        Somewhere in the early months of the season, however, the touch deserted him. As did his confidence.

        After four games, Posey was 6-of-13 from three-point range. Then he slumped. Over the next 10 games, he was just 3-of-26 (.115) and grew hesitant to shoot jumpers.

        Playing power forward for some of that time, he admits to taking three-point shots only if he was wide-open.

        With Lenny Brown shooting the ball well, Gary Lumpkin snapping out his early-season slump and Maurice McAfee coming off the bench to hit some threes, Posey figured he'd go after “hustle points.”

        “I didn't have a problem with just crashing the boards and getting layups,” he said. “I felt if I was shooting the ball (from the perimeter), that would take me away from rebounds. I started trying to get dunks and other things instead of the jump shot. I was just trying to be a complete player.”

        Before XU's Jan.23 home game against Virginia Tech, Brown echoed what the coaches had been saying. Sitting down with Posey one day, Brown gave him “a little pep talk” and told him it was “time to turn it up.” Posey listened.

        “I'm not going to force a shot, but as long as I get a good look, I feel it's going in,” he said.

        Despite a strained hip, Posey is expected to be ready Tuesday as he continues to show NBA scouts exactly what they want to see: the ability to hit outside shots consistently.

        “He's shooting with much more confidence,” Prosser said. “It just makes him that much harder to guard. He's one of our best weapons, but if your best weapon is not firing, it doesn't help you much.”

        He's firing now.

       



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