Sunday, March 18, 2001

Xavier Notebook

Irish reach new heights against Xavier

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The old axiom is, you can't coach height. Xavier showed it's not easy coaching against it, either.

        The undersized Musketeers especially suffered in their matchup Friday against a big Notre Dame team.

        “Our size definitely won out,” Irish coach Mike Brey said.

        The matchup problem was reminiscent of XU's struggles against Massachusetts (which beat Xavier twice) and Wisconsin. George Washington also used big, physical players to knock XU out of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

        “We've never been a particularly big team, but we've always used quickness to our advantage,” XU coach Skip Prosser said. “Our rebounding differential (plus-3.3 per game) wasn't too far down this year, but it wasn't what we'd like.”

        XU ranked third in the A-10 in rebounding differential. It led the league in that category twice, in 1996-97 (plus 6.7) and last season (plus 4.9).

        NO COMEBACK: It's hard to rally against a team that controls the tempo and makes free throws, which Notre Dame does. But XU was also on unfamiliar ground.

        The Musketeers had trailed at halftime only five times and hadn't faced a halftime deficit in their previous 15 games. The 14-point margin was their largest halftime hole; the high had been seven at Cincinnati, where they rallied to win.

        Prosser said XU didn't remain patient during that stretch and attempted too many 3-pointers overall, making just three of 20 (15 percent).

        “When you get in trouble, you can either try to shoot your way out or execute your way out,” he said. “Good teams execute their way out. We didn't do a good job executing.”

        GRAVES BURIED XU: Notre Dame started junior David Graves for a three-guard look against XU's full-court pressure. Graves, replacing forward Harold Swanagan, made all seven of his field goal attempts and scored 20 points. He added two assists and two steals and defused XU's press.

        “I thought it was a good move by Mike (Brey) to go a little smaller against our pressure,” Prosser said. “When you trap and press, sometimes you give guys open looks.”

        The Irish shot 63.3 percent. Take out Troy Murphy's 6-for-17, and the rest of the team shot 78.1 percent (25 of 32).

        X-FILES: Senior point guard Maurice McAfee scored nine points Friday to finish his career with 1,142, passing Dexter Bailey's 1,139 (1980-84) to finish 23rd on the school's all-time list. ... Sophomore center David West finished the season with 23 consecutive games in double figures.

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