Saturday, March 09, 2002

Xavier, Richmond in A-10 final

Bad blood could resurface

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PHILADELPHIA — It didn't take long for Xavier to forge a rivalry with Richmond. The intensity of their meeting today for the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship game could be helped along by the controversy surrounding their previous encounter.

        The teams had a postgame scuffle after XU's 67-64 victory Feb.2 at Richmond, and both were reprimanded by the league for their actions. Punches reportedly were thrown, and the Musketeers received a police escort out a back exit of the Robins Center to their team bus.

Beautiful rally, ugly end Feb. 3
A-10 studies XU-Richmond scuffle Feb. 4
Richmond, XU display spin moves Feb. 5
No action by league against XU Feb. 6
        “It's pretty safe to call it a rivalry,” UR's Scott Ungerer said. “We had two great battles and two tough losses, and emotions run high after a game like that second one.”

        The incident overshadowed a dramatic XU victory, in which the Musketeers overcame a 15-point deficit with 11 minutes remaining. When the game ended, several XU players — having been the target of profane shouts from the UR student section — ran to that section and defiantly crossed their arms in an “X,” yelling at the students.

        The teams exited the court through the same hallway, where the shoving quickly began.

        “They'll be jacked up to play us, I'm sure,” XU center David West said. “They're a good team. The past two games will be forgotten.”

        XU and Richmond had never played prior to this season. The teams began their animosity with some heavy trash talk in their first meeting, a 72-62 XU victory Jan. 12 in Cincinnati.

        UR guard Tony Dobbins said the meltdown loss to XU in Richmond made the Spiders better.

        “Even if that (scuffle) hadn't happened, that loss would have stuck in our minds,” he said. “It helped us regain our focus.”

        The Spiders (18-12) said they're glad just to be in the position to secure an automatic bid. Last year, they finished with a No.43 RPI but didn't secure an at-large bid. Because they were leaving the Colonial Athletic Association, the CAA didn't allow it to play in its league tournament.

        “It's great to control our own destiny,” Ungerer said.


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