Saturday, December 11, 1999

McAfee looking for better days

Point guard wants to improve decision making

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        After each game, Xavier point guard Maurice McAfee gets a copy of the tape, takes it back to his room and watches.

        “I look for all the mistakes that I made,” he said. “I look at the good things that I do so I can keep that up, but mainly I look at my decision-making at different times of the game, late, early, the middle of the game, and how I can improve.”

  • Where: Rose Arena (5,200), Mount Pleasant, Mich.
  • Records: Xavier 4-2,
  CMU 3-3
  • TV: Channel 64
  • Radio: WLW-AM (700)
  • 29: Points scored by CMU's David Webber in an 83-80 loss to Detroit on Wednesday
  • 7-of-12: Webber's shooting from 3-point range in that game
  34: Margin of victory in XU win over CMU two years ago
        He has now started six games for the Musketeers, who take a 4-2 record into today's matchup at Central Michigan. McAfee — from Saginaw, Mich., about 45 miles away — will be playing in front of at least 14 friends and family members.

        The 6-foot junior, selected as the most improved player on last year's team, leads Xavier in scoring at 15.2 points a game, and he is the Musketeers' top 3-point shooter (17-of-40, 42.5 percent). Yet what he wants to do is lead the country in assists (he is averaging 4.5 a game).

        “I'm pleased with him,” coach Skip Prosser said. “He didn't have very many turnovers the other night (two). He's doing what he's supposed to do ... But we all have to get better, me included.”

        When the Musketeers stop running their offense, it is McAfee's job to correct that. In the 41-point loss to Kansas, Xavier all but abandoned its game plan and tried to beat the Jayhawks one-on-one.

        There were times against Miami when the same thing happened, when XU rushed shots, but not nearly as often as the Kansas game. That's the result of McAfee watching game film and remembering what he saw.

        He tried to be more poised when the RedHawks were taking control Wednesday night.

        “He can only do so much,” Prosser said. “He can only call the play. He can only have the poise to bring the ball back out and say, "All right, let's run the thing.' But his teammates have to run the stuff; that's their obligation.

        “We didn't set good, hard screens. To be honest, there were times in the past where if we didn't (execute), maybe Lenny (Brown) could take his guy one-on-one or (James) Posey would get a stickback, so you forgot about it. But these guys have to do it. The guys that have done it the past two or three years are no longer here.”

        Xavier was ahead of Kansas 12-4 after 4:10. It led Miami 23-13 after 13 minutes. It was beating East Tennessee State by 24 at halftime and ended up winning by 25. It led Washington by 20 with 13:55 left and let the Huskies get back to within 12.

        Opponents are outscoring the Musketeers 227-219 in the second half.

        “It was magnified in the Miami game and Kansas game, but it's not just those games,” Prosser said.

        “The bottom line is when you have a team down, you've got to put them away,” McAfee said. “That's something we have to learn and we have to work toward, just to be hard-nosed and tough-minded for 40 minutes.”

        The Musketeers met in the locker room twice after the Miami loss and again Thursday.

        Xavier usually bounces back. Not including season-ending defeats, Xavier is 22-2 in games following losses since the 1996-97 season.

        Central Michigan's best player, Mike Manciel — the reigning Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year after averaging 17.5 points and 6.4 rebounds — is out for this season with a broken foot.

        Xavier is glad to be back in action so quickly after losing to the RedHawks.

        “You don't want to leave that loss next to your name for long,” McAfee said. “A loss is not the end of the world. It makes you feel bad at the time, but you have other games.”

        Note: Sophomore Kevin Frey, who has been coming off the bench, will start at power forward in place of Aaron Turner. Turner did not practice with the team Friday and remained in Cincinnati for academic reasons. Turner is expected to fly to Michigan in time for the game and play.

        Frey is for Midland, Mich., just outside Mount Pleasant.

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