Friday, October 22, 1999

Xavier's Price lifts weights, expectations


Sophomore works harder to live up to his potential

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Lloyd Price accepts no excuses. He doesn't care that he was a freshman, that he didn't know what to expect or how to prepare for his first season of college basketball, or that he simply went through a natural learning process.

        The Xavier sophomore feels only one thing: “Last year was terrible. It really was a horrible year for me.

        “I didn't play to my potential at all. I didn't rebound as much. I didn't have confidence in my shot. I really think I could've had more of an effect on the team. But I learned from it. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.”

        Price is hard on himself. The 6-foot-5 wing played in all 36 games last season, starting 10 but mostly coming off the bench as sixth man.

        He came in as the highest-rated recruit in Xavier history and showed flashes of what made him such a brilliant prospect. He had some great defensive moments, he flew in for authoritative rebound dunks and displayed breathtaking moves toward the basket.

        But for the first time, he found taller, stronger opponents waiting for him after a spin move in the lane. His outside shot was a weakness — he was just 10-of-46 from 3-point range (21.7 percent).

        His free-throw shooting (64.5 percent) was the lowest among the six players to appear in every game, and he had 17 more turnovers than assists.

        “I think he was up and down,” assistant coach Jeff Battle said. “He realized very soon during the year that it wasn't going to be as easy as it was for him during high school. You can't get by on just your athleticism alone. Now he's learning how to play the game, how to read screens, how to be a big-time perimeter play er at this level.”

        Despite his positive contributions (No.4 scorer, No.5 rebounder, No.3 in steals and tied for No.2 in blocks), Price focused on his shortcomings when the season ended.

        “I know what type of player I am and that I should've played a lot better than I did,” he said. “I just held back, and I don't know why. I was too worried about doing the wrong thing instead of focusing on doing the right thing. In practice, I was second-guessing my shot and that's not good. My work ethic has improved tremendously as well.”

        Price had a distaste for the weight room last season, and practice was often but a necessary evil to him. It wasn't until late in the season that he started shooting extra.

        In June, he changed his attitude toward lifting weights. Throughout the summer, he practiced his jump shot for a couple hours a day, sometimes coming to Schmidt Fieldhouse late at night to shoot more.

        “Lloyd is no longer the weakest member of the team,” strength and conditioning coach Dave Armstrong said. “He took a look at himself this summer and finally made up his mind. For him, it had to be something that he decided he had to do.”

        Price can bench press 225 pounds four times, and can squat 315 pounds in sets of 10.

        He likes how he looks. He likes how he feels. He thinks he's jumping higher, which is scary considering his considerable leaping ability.

        “I don't think I'll ever love the weight room. ... but I've accepted it,” Price said. “And I see the results. You know what, some things in life you may not like them, but you have to accept them and do them. Like people work 9-to-5 every day to put food on their table. I have to lift weights so in the long run maybe I can put food on my family's table.”

        “It's like he's got something to prove to people,” senior Darnell Williams said. “When I first saw him play, I thought, that's an NBA player in the making right there. He's got all the tools. He just had to learn the game and get his shot going.

        “Now his shot is coming and it's just the mental part of the game, where he thinks before a play happens. ... Once he learns how to use screens and read the defenses, he'll be unstoppable.”

        Price put his improved act on stage at Midnight Madness, when he led all Musketeers with 16 points in a brief scrimmage, including two 3-pointers.

        If Xavier is to have a good season, Price will have to score, rebound, play good defense, and perhaps most importantly, hit his outside shot.

        “Lloyd's very unselfish,” Battle said. “For a guy who came in with all the accolades he did, it could've been easy for him to think me, me, me.

        “At times I think he has to get a little bit more selfish.”

        There is no question Price wants to play in the NBA. He also wants to earn a degree.

        Last spring, he attended Xavier's graduation and watched teammates Gary Lumpkin, Lenny Brown, James Posey and Williams get their diplomas.

        He watched on TV as Posey got drafted by the Denver Nuggets.

        He asked the coaches how Posey improved. They talked of his work ethic. That sent a message to Price.

        “This year, it's something personal,” Price said. “I just expect to never sell myself or the team short. I expect to be a leader to the younger guys and listen to the coaches and the guys that are my age. I think it can take us real far if everybody comes together as a team; that's what it all comes down to.”

Campbell Co.'s Ballinger among XU walk-ons



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