Friday, December 03, 1999

Pals become foes when Xavier plays ETSU

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Xavier coach Skip Prosser and assistant Mark Schmidt don't particularly want to play this game. It has nothing to do with East Tennessee State; it has everything to do with Buccaneers coach Ed DeChellis.

        The two Xavier coaches and DeChellis are close friends. They talk weekly. At Final Fours and on the road recruiting, they often spend time together. DeChellis and Schmidt shared a room last summer in Indianapolis during the Nike camp.

        “This isn't something I'm really looking forward to,” said Prosser, whose squad plays host to East Tennessee State at 2p.m. Saturday. “It was more Eddie's idea. It's not easy. I'd rather it didn't happen this way.”

        “You never want to play a friend, because you know at the end of the game, someone's going to be hurt and disappointed,” Schmidt said. “It's almost like the winner's not going to feel like he should.”

        Prosser, then a Xavier assistant, became friends with DeChellis, then a Penn State assistant, when the two were on the road recruiting from the mid-1980s to the early '90s. They are both from the Pittsburgh area.

        When Prosser became head coach at Loyola College in Baltimore, it was DeChellis who recommended Schmidt, who was the restricted earnings coach at Penn State. DeChellis also recommended Jeff Battle, now a Xavier assistant. Both have been with Prosser since 1993-94.

        “Eddie stands for the right things in coaching,” Prosser said, “teaching, principles, academics. His word went a long way.”

        This is the closest friend Prosser and Schmidt — who plan to take DeChellis out to dinner tonight — say they have played against. For Prosser, it's the second-hardest game he has coached, behind the Xavier-Loyola matchup the year after Prosser was Loyo la's coach. Prosser refuses to face best friend Dino Gaudio, now at Loyola.

        DeChellis said he wanted the game because East Tennessee State needed a guaranteed financial return and he would like to recruit in Ohio. Xavier will pay the school $32,000 for the one game but won't have to pay back the favor and play in Johnson City, Tenn., XU Athletic Director Mike Bobinski said.

        “When the game starts, they're going to try to beat us and we're going to try to beat them,” Schmidt said.

        “We'll see how good friends we are (Saturday),” DeChellis said.


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