Thursday, March 25, 1999

Muskies get last shot to go out winners

Consolation pits Xavier against Oregon

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Lenny Brown, practicing Wednesday, is looking for redemption today .
(Craig Ruttle photo)

| ZOOM |
        NEW YORK — There are, in fact, some Xavier players who are glad there is one more game to be played.

        OK, so tonight's matchup with Oregon is the consolation game of college basketball's consolation tournament.

        But playing for third place in the National Invitation Tournament gives the Musketeers a chance to end their season on a winning note; the only other teams who still can do that are the NCAA and NIT champions.

        Senior guard Lenny Brown, for one, is pleased that Tuesday night's 79-76 loss to Clemson won't be his final game as a Musketeer.

        “I just want to redeem myself,” Brown said Wednesday. “I want to play well. I didn't play well here. It's tough, (being) the type of player I am.

        “I feel a little bit better today. I've had a lot of support from the team and coaches, but words can't do much. I just wasn't there.”

  • When: 5 p.m. today
  • Where: Madison Square Garden
  • Records: Xavier 24-11, Oregon 19-12
  • TV: none
  • Radio: WLW-AM (700)
  • 1: Rebound by James Posey on Tuesday night, the lowest total of his career
  • 7-of-29: Combined shooting of Posey and Lenny Brown against Clemson
  • 15: Double-figure scoring games from freshman Lloyd Price
        Brown was in tears in the locker room after going 4-of-17 from the field and missing two three-point baskets in the final 10 seconds against the Tigers.

        He said he has never felt worse after a game.

        Teammates came by with words of encouragement. Long-time backcourt mate Gary Lumpkin walked over and playfully rubbed Brown's head.

        “I understand totally,” Lumpkin said. “... We can't blame it on him. He didn't lose the game for us. We dug ourselves a hole.”

        Senior James Posey was empathetic. He did not have a great game either.

        He was shut out in the first half, then scored 14 points after intermission but finished just 3-of-12 from the field and 1-of-5 from three-point range. Posey also was held to just one rebound.

        “It was terrible,” he said. “This is another opportunity for me to play well and for us to get a win. That's the most important thing, just to go out on a winning note. If I have a performance like (Tuesday) and we still win, I'm happy with the win. I'll take it and run with it.”

        Xavier rallied from a 24-point deficit against Clemson and actually took the lead on a three-pointer by Brown with 1:26 left. But the Musketeers did not score again.

        The Tigers had only three field goals in the final 14 minutes but still came out on top.

        The game was representative of the kind of roller-coaster season Xavier has had.

        With the heartbreaking loss, the question Wednesday was: How interested were the Musketeers in another game? Oregon got bumped into the consolation matchup after losing to California 85-69 on Tuesday night.

        “We talked about it last night after the game when we went back to the hotel,” XU coach Skip Prosser said. “I think they want to play. They're not happy with the way they played (Tuesday). They feel like they can play a lot better, and they'd rather go out and finish here with a positive rather than a negative.”

        Xavier practiced for about an hour Wednesday in Madison Square Garden. It went through some of Oregon's plays. The Ducks like to run, too, so this could be a fast-paced, high-scoring affair.

        “I am glad we get a chance to end the season with a win,” Prosser said. “The kids just want the opportunity to play again.”

        Said Lumpkin: “Once game time gets here, we'll be ready to go and we'll be (ticked) off that we lost the last game.

        “You can't sulk now. When game time gets here, we've just got to be ready to go. There are no excuses, we've just got to get the job done.”

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