Sunday, November 14, 1999

Xavier 91, Athletes in Action 67

Freshman West will play big role

The Cincinnati Enquirer

David West wrestles for a rebound.
(Jeff Swinger photo)

| ZOOM |
        David West saw that Darnell Williams was off-balance on his 3-point attempt, so he raced toward the basket, certain he was going to get the rebound. He did, tipping the ball right in.

        “We've been working on attacking the offensive glass,” West said. “That's what I am trying to make a habit of — crashing every single time trying to get little trash baskets.”

        The 6-foot-8 freshman had three more putbacks Saturday, including one off a missed free throw by teammate Lloyd Price. West finished with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and five rebounds in 16 minutes.

        He wasn't Xavier's high scorer in its 91-67 exhibition victory over Athletes in Action, but West has been a highlight this preseason.

        “I really can't afford to think of him as a freshman,” coach Skip Prosser said. “If I allow him freshman latitude, then I'm doing him a disservice. The bottom line is he's got to make plays for us to be good.”

        In Xavier's two exhibition games, West has shown good instincts and a knack for getting his hands on the ball. Now he's got to work on grabbing the rebounds and holding onto them.

        He also has had “freshman” moments. Once in each game he was called for a technical foul for reaching over the baseline when the opponent was trying to inbound after a Xavier basket. Prosser had talked to West about that Saturday morning, just hours before he would make the same mistake again. “He's from Garner, N.C., so maybe I need to start throwing in a few ya'alls at him,” Prosser said.

        West also committed an offensive foul Saturday when he shoved Athletes in Action's David Wood while waiting for the ball to come into play.

        “He's really Bambi on ice,” Prosser said. “He's a bright kid who really wants to be good. He really listens. He wants to be taught. You can see the intensity in his eyes, and he's disappointed if he doesn't do well.”

        Sophomores Aaron Turner and Kevin Frey and West will make up the main frontline rotation when the regular season starts.

        West admits to being more com fortable than he expected. In two games, he has averaged 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 62.5 percent from the floor.

        “For some reason I'm just relaxed,” he said. “I don't feel any pressure and I don't feel like if I make a mistake, uh-oh. I thought it was going to take more time. But I've got a long way to go yet.”

        Two days after two-a-day practices started, West was asked how he was doing. “Having fun,” he answered. He comes to practice every day with a smile on his face. He enjoys physical play. He gets knocked down, he springs back up.

        “No matter where I go, I love basketball,” he said. “I feel like if you take it on as a job, then you're not going to do your best because you're not having fun anymore.”

        Xavier's inside play looked better Saturday. The Musketeers outrebounded AIA 46-29, with Frey grabbing a team-high nine. Turner added 13 points and six rebounds and has shot 69.2 percent in the exhibitions.

        “Aaron Turner runs like a deer,” senior Darnell Williams said. “Every time you look down the court, he's there; we've just got to reward him. He moves up and down the court like Torraye Braggs when he was here.”

        Williams led Xavier with 22 points, including five 3-pointers. Price added 14 points, and Alvin Brown came off the bench for 12.

        With six days before the regular- season opener against Maryland-Eastern Shore, Xavier has to concentrate on:

        • Rebounding. Despite Saturday's advantage, Prosser thinks the Musketeers still must improve.

        • Free throw shooting. XU was 16-of-26 against AIA and is shooting just 63.3 percent in the preseason. The Musketeers have led the Atlantic 10 in free throw percentage three straight years.

        • Turnovers. Xavier had 22 against a team that didn't full-court press. Many were unforced.


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