Saturday, November 13, 1999

XU set for boarding school

Focus is on rebounding in final exhibition

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's not how big you are, it's how big you play. That's a favorite saying of Xavier coach Skip Prosser.

        There's a reason for that. The Musketeers are often undersized on the front line, having used 6-foot-7 and 6-8 players at center much of this decade.

  • When: Noon today
  • Where: Cincinnati Gardens
  • Tickets: $5
  • Radio: WKRC-AM (550)
  • What to watch: Xavier's probable starting lineup is Maurice McAfee, Darnell Williams, Lloyd Price, Aaron Turner, Kevin Frey ... Athletes in Action is 4-6, having lost to Kentucky, New Mexico State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Bradley and Stanford. AIA was tied with UK at halftime but lost 98-77 Thursday night.
        To make up for a lack of size, Xavier inside players often rely on their speed and quickness to get rebounds. And rebounding is going to be a key to this season.

        XU plays host to Athletes in Action at noon today in its final exhibition game. The regular season opens a week from today against Maryland-Eastern Shore.

        On Wednesday night against B.C. Honved of Hungary, the Musketeers won the rebounding battle 39-33. That wasn't good enough for Prosser, who said his team has to play more physical.

        “We saw effort,” assistant coach Mark Schmidt said. “Guys were trying to get to the backboard and trying to box out. We just weren't physical enough. We didn't respect them enough to go and knock them off the board. We can't do that against good teams.”

        There were several times when a Xavier player would have his hands on the ball but was unable to pull down the rebound.

        “We just couldn't get our other hand on it,” 6-8 freshman David West said. “We were doing a lot of tipping around. There were a couple rebounds that I had, but when I came down, there were a lot of guys around me. In the second half, we did a much better job. We're going to work on that in practice.”

        Small forward Lloyd Price led XU in rebounds with five, and shooting guard Darnell Williams had four. Inside players West, Aaron Turner (6-7) and Kevin Frey (6-8) also had four rebounds each.

        The Hungary team had three players that were 6-10 and one 7-footer.

        “They were big and dirty, real dirty, throwing (elbows),” Turner said. “That was fun. ... Most people think they're going to beat me, but I'm not going to let them push me around. You just have to play tough and don't be scared of them. I like banging, so it's not really hard.”

        “Getting rebounds is ... about how big your heart is, how bad you want to get the board,” Frey said. “It took some time (to learn that). For us to be a good team, we have to outrebound our opponent every time.”

        Frey's career high is 14 rebounds, last season against Mi ami. Turner had 13 against LaSalle.

        West said that while at Hargrave Military Academy, he played against a lot of 6-10, 7-foot opponents, so he was not intimidated or overwhelmed Wednesday night.

        “I'm gonna enjoy it,” West said. “I think you play more at ease when you are, not so much the underdog, but when guys think you're so much smaller and at a disadvantage. It gives me something to go after, something to prove.”

        The best opponents on Xavier's schedule — No.2 Cincinnati and No.7 Temple — have strong inside games. Rebounding is crucial against those teams.

        Xavier's goal each game is to outrebound its opponent by 10. It accomplished that seven times last season and went 5-2 in those games.

        Overall, the Musketeers were 16-3 when they outrebounded opponents last season, 8-7 when they didn't, and 1-1 when it was even.

        “Boxing out is not enough,” Schmidt said. “You have to box out and push back. It carves out space. If you box out, you might be 2 feet from the rim. If you move him back, now you've got maybe 4 or 5 feet for the ball to come down for you to rebound.”

        Schmidt said Xavier also has to be quicker than opponents in running down long rebounds.

        “When you're not as big, you've got to outwork guys and be more physical,” he said. “We're not going and getting guys. We're letting guys come to us. We've got to stop their progress, push them back, then go for the ball.”


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