Sunday, December 09, 2001
Freshmen make strides together
By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Keith Jackson and Jaison Williams had a trial by fire Wednesday at Purdue. Saturday was a bit more relaxing.
As Xavier coasted past Long Island, the two freshmen furthered their status as XU's top two reserves. Williams totaled five points, three rebounds and two assists, and Jackson totaled seven points, three assists and two rebounds.
They're getting maturity through experience, XU coach Thad Matta said.
Jackson is averaging 4.8 points in 17.7 minutes and shooting 61.7 percent. Williams is averaging 3.5 points in 12.2 minutes, shooting 40 percent.
They were fast friends, playing on the same team at Nike camp in the summer of 2000 and enrolling in summer classes together this year at XU. Their on-court chemistry showed when they were pressed into action at Purdue, with XU facing a 12-point deficit.
Whatever we've done, we've tried to do it together, Jackson said of Williams. So when we came in the (Purdue) game, we said, "Hopefully we can lead a run here.'
They rallied XU into the lead, though the Musketeers would lose that game. But Matta showed great confidence in the duo, as Jackson played 24 minutes and Williams ran the team during XU's rally.
That helped my confidence a lot, playing in a big game like that, and it gives the team confidence in us as young players, Williams said.
Both players said they are content in limited roles now but are ready to contribute as much and as often as needed.
I don't consider myself a freshman anymore, Jackson said.
Redshirt freshman Anthony Coleman hadn't attempted a shot in 21 months. But he emerged in a big way Saturday, scoring his first nine collegiate points and making four of six shots with two rebounds, a block and an assist in 12 minutes. His tip-dunk of a Jackson miss was the play of the game.
I enjoyed myself out there, Coleman said. I just wanted to play aggressively and do what comes naturally.
This was XU's largest margin of victory since a 118-61 victory over Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) on Nov.24, 1997. It's also XU's highest point total since that game. ... XU had played its past four games away from home, its longest road trip in three seasons. It's now on a four-game homestand, its longest of the season.
XU plays host to Wisconsin (3-5) at 7:30p.m. Monday. The game is sold out and will be televised on Channel 64.
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