Sunday, January 21, 2001

Xavier's Frey points for perfection

        When Kevin Frey counts his basketball blessings, he is invariably brief. When he tallies his troubles, the audit can be agonizing.

        Xavier's joy-impaired junior forward left Cintas Center Saturday afternoon anticipating a prolonged brood. He was bothered by those rebounds he had put his hands on and didn't hold. He was annoyed by that hideous 3-point attempt and the disheartening zero beside his name beneath the heading for blocked shots.

        Good thing he scored 29 points, then, or we'd likely be talking him back from the ledge.

Kevin Frey gets a high-five from Lionel Chalmers.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        “Just because I scored a lot of points today doesn't mean I played good,” Frey said solemnly after the Musketeers' 86-73 victory over St. Jo
seph's. “There are a lot of things I did today that I wasn't happy about.... I will never be satisfied until I play a perfect game. And nobody plays a perfect game.”

        For a fellow who had matched his career scoring mark, whose efforts enabled Xavier to forge a first-place tie in the Atlantic 10, Frey's post-game demeanor was curiously dour. While his teammates changed and chattered, Frey was meeting down the hall with the medical staff, discussing treatment alternatives for his tender left ankle.

        “You didn't tell me Frey was playing well,” St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli told Xavier's Skip Prosser on his way out of the arena.

        “The day we sent you the videotape,” Prosser replied, “he didn't practice.”
        Nothing kills a party like chronic pain. If Kevin Frey seems grim when he ought to be giddy, perhaps we should all walk a mile with his bone spurs. Saturday's game was easier than some others, he said, because his adrenaline flow was sufficient to mask his discomfort. It was easier, too, because Xavier center David West has found that one way to wage war against double-team defense is to find Frey cutting to the basket.

        “Today, they were coming at me from everywhere,” West said. “And I noticed they were playing Kevin one-on-one. Coach wanted to run a play for me and I told him, "Don't run that for me, run that for Kevin.' ”

        West's unselfishness is partly strategic. If Frey attracts additional coverage, it should make it easier for West to move around.

        Frey made eight field-goal attempts against the Hawks, but he was able to get the ball close enough to the basket that St. Joe's was frequently compelled to foul. Frey made his first 13 free throws Saturday before missing his last two attempts. Searching for comfort

        Although his free-throw form is virtually textbook, Frey never looks quite comfortable at the line. He's forever adjusting his jersey, bunching the oversized sleeves so they don't drift down past his shoulders. He either needs a tailor or a pack of Lucky Strikes to complete his look.

        Proposing those alterations prompted an authentic smile from Frey Saturday. Suggesting that he had just experienced a breakout game, however, rapidly restored his skepticism.

        “I don't think I did a good job of rebounding,” he said. “I had nine, but my man (St. Joe's Bill Phillips) got seven. I'll be thinking about the rebounds I didn't get tonight. I won't be thinking about the points.”

        Perfection is an elusive goal, but it can be a powerful motivator. If not for his ankle, Kevin Frey said, he would have gone back to the gym Saturday afternoon to work on his shot.

        “I just can't stop playing the game,” he said, “till I get it right.”


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