Tuesday, December 07, 1999

Knee's OK; shot is hurting

XU's Williams is struggling to score

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Darnell Williams arrived at the Cincinnati Gardens 90 minutes early Saturday to practice shooting. His jumper was falling.

        Then Xavier's game against East Tennessee State started, and Williams struggled. He scored just five points on 2-of-9 shooting in the 80-55 victory, his lowest scoring total since his sophomore year.

        “It just didn't seem like it wanted to go down in the game,” the fifth-year senior said. “I can't let it frustrate me. I can do other things to help us win. If I score five and we win by 25, hey, a W's a W, baby. Everybody likes winners; nobody likes losers.”

        Two of the Musketeers' next three games are against local rivals Miami (7 p.m. Wednesday) and Cincinnati (Dec. 18). They will need Williams' scoring more against those kinds of teams than against East Tennessee State and Central Michigan (2 p.m. Saturday).

        Williams was Xavier's leading scorer (17.3 ppg) as a junior, then injured his right knee in June 1998, underwent surgery and sat out last season.

        He was held to single-digit scoring just four times during the 1997-98 season; in five games this season, he's already been held to less than 10 points three times.

        The last three games — eight points vs. Kansas, eight vs. Washington, five vs. ETSU — make up his worst scoring stretch since midway through his sophomore season, shortly after he injured his left knee.

        After two games this fall, Williams was averaging a team-high 21 ppg. Now he's third on the team — behind Maurice McAfee (15.6) and Lloyd Price (13.6) — at 12.6. Williams has hit just one of his last 11 attempts from 3-point range and is 9-of-29 in the past three games.

        He is shooting 39.7 percent from the field overall and has not dunked in any regular-season or exhibition game.

        “I'm a shooter; I'm a scorer,” Williams said. “I don't worry. I figure sooner or later one day I'll break out and go for 40.”

        Williams got away from basketball on Sunday — Xavier's day off — and thought about his shooting woes. His knee doesn't have anything to do with it, he said.

        “I've got to just keep on shooting,” he said. “Sometimes it bothers me because you want to shoot well and help the team more, but when it's not dropping you can't let it affect all the other aspects of your game.”

        “I think it will be a lot better for us when he shoots the ball like he can,” XU coach Skip Prosser said. “We need him to score, and I think he will. He'll shoot the ball fine. We'll be fine.”


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