Saturday, December 09, 2000

Price's return resets lineup

McAfee can move back to point

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Lloyd Price's health should soon spell change in Xavier's starting lineup. Maurice McAfee's misfires might demand it.

        The senior captain's shooting struggles won't boot him to the bench. It probably will lead to McAfee's reappointment at point guard, with Lionel Chalmers — who has started thus far at the point — becoming his backup.

  • When: 7:30 p.m. today.
  • Where: Jadwin Gymnasium (6,854), Princeton, N.J.
  • Records: XU 5-1, Princeton 2-3.
  • TV: Ch. 64.
  • Radio: WLW-AM (700).
  Kevin Frey-6-8-Jr.-13.5
  David West-6-8-So.-11.0
  Maurice McAfee-6-0-Sr.-7.3
  Romain Sato-6-4-Fr.-11.8
  Lionel Chalmers-6-0-So.-11.2
  Coach: Skip Prosser (seventh season, 132-58; 149-71 overall)

  Mike Bechtold-6-6-Jr.-15.2
  Eugene Baah-6-5-Jr.-5.2
  Nate Walton-6-7-Sr.-8.8
  C.J. Chapman-6-1-Sr.-11.0
  Ed Persia-6-1-Fr.-8.6
  Coach: John Thompson III (first season, 2-3; same overall)
  • 12: Consecutive seasons Princeton has led the nation in scoring defense.
  • .816: Princeton's winning percentage in Jadwin Gymnasium; it has gone 288-65 there since the building opened in 1969.
        “Whatever my position is on this team, I'm happy,” Chalmers said. “When I'm out there, whether it's 40 minutes or five minutes (a game), I just want to help the team.”

        XU (5-1) will need such selflessness beginning today, when it visits Princeton (2-3) at 7:30 p.m. Price is almost fully recovered from a 3-week-old ankle sprain, so he'll probably reclaim his starting small forward spot either tonight or next week.

        McAfee has played both small forward and shooting guard in Price's absence. XU probably will abandon the three-guard set, meaning McAfee, Chalmers, Romain Sato, Alvin Brown and Dave Young will share time at the two guard spots.

        McAfee is averaging 7.3 points, down from his team-high 15.3 average last year. He is shooting .356 (down from .408 last year), including .208 from 3-point range (down from .394).

        “It's been kind of a transition period with me at the "two' (shooting guard) and the "three' (small forward), and it's been a challenge that I've accepted,” McAfee said. “But by me not playing those positions in the past, it was kind of hard for me to find what shots I should take, to get the whole two/three thing down, and get different looks (at the basket).”

        Said coach Skip Prosser: “We've talked about how he needs to get better shots

        than what he's taken. He knows that. Once he works on it enough, he'll be all right. And he's still playing hard, guarding well.”

        Chalmers leads the team in minutes played, averaging 32.3, and averages 11.2 points and a team-high 3.8 assists. Prosser has assured Chalmers extended playing time, including moments when both he and McAfee are on the floor together.

        “This time (as a starter) has helped me a lot,” Chalmers said. “I've learned a lot. I just have to make sure I capitalize on the mistakes that I've made and get better.”

        There's a sense of urgency about tonight's game. XU needs to prove it can win on the road.

        XU lost its opening road game last Saturday at Wisconsin, and it went 4-9 on opponents' home courts last year. XU has won just six of its last 21 road games.

        “Last year it was rough on the road for us,” junior Kevin Frey said. “We really didn't play well. This year we need to get out and go after teams, kind of like we do at home.”

        Princeton is languishing at No.219 in the ratings, owning losses to Monmouth and Lafayette. XU faced a similar slow-down style last week against Samford.

        “That's one of the reasons we scheduled Samford,” Prosser said. “We're hoping what we did well or not so well against Samford, we can learn from.”

        Of XU's next six games, just one is at home. It must visit Cincinnati (No.4 in the RPI), Toledo (No.1) and Fordham (No.52), plus play Kent (No.58) in its backyard, Cleveland.

        “Road wins are difficult to come by, especially against quality teams,” Prosser said. “But we need to get used to winning, period.”

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