Monday, March 11, 2002

Xavier wants to do some damage


Musketeers aren't crying about 7th seed

By Neil Schmidt nschmidt@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Xavier coach Thad Matta gives his take on the bracket.
(Michael E. Keating photos)
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        There was some groaning. But the Xavier Musketeers, saying Sunday they felt a bit slighted by their NCAA Tournament seeding, were appreciative of the fact there was something about which to complain.

        Their No. 7 seeding in the West Region and first-round date with 10th seed Hawaii (27-5) were a far cry from the desperation of a year ago, when they rejoiced just to get one of the final bids.

        “Last year, we didn't put ourselves in position as far as knowing if we were in or not,” XU junior David West said. “We were sweating bullets 'til the end, and we were just happy to get in. This year we want to do some damage.”

        XU (25-5) will face the Western Athletic Conference champs Friday at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. The winner will face either second-seeded Oklahoma or 15th-seeded Illinois-Chicago on Sunday. Game times will be announced today.

        Now, about that seeding . . .

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Former Xavier star Byron Larkin helps his son Ryan fill out the bracket.
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        XU finished No. 14 in the Ratings Percentage Index, nine spots higher than its previous best RPI finish -- 1998, when it got a No. 6 seed. It is ranked 19th in the new ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and stood 24th last week in the Associated Press poll. It stood 19th Sunday in the Sagarin ratings.

        The universal belief among “bracketology” experts is that XU was dropped a couple of seeding positions because of a lack of quality victories. It went 4-2 against teams that made the field, but the highest-seeded team it beat was Wisconsin, which drew a No. 8 seed.

        “That's kind of been our thing all year: We weren't getting talked about a whole lot,” XU coach Thad Matta said. “It's fine with me, but for these guys, I see how hard they work, and I'd like for them to get the respect.”

        The highest seed the Musketeers have ever received is a sixth seed, in both the 1990 and '98 tournaments. It drew a No. 7 seed in '97.

        XU coaches and players admitted they knew little about Hawaii immediately after the draw was announced, but the staff was soon scrambling for game films on the Rainbow Warriors.

        UH's roster includes nine international players, four of them starters, and its top three scorers are guards. It has a 1.4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, compared to a 0.9-to-1 ratio for XU.

        “I know their assist-to-turnover ratio is outstanding,” Matta said. “Their stat line and out stat line are very similar. And our guys' names are easier to pronounce than theirs are.”

        XU shoots 45.1 percent and allows 40 percent defensively; UH shoots 45.3 percent and allows 40.8 percent. XU averages 72.7 points and allows 62.2; UH averages 72.2 and allows 62.8.

        XU lost in the NCAA first round last year by 12 points to Notre Dame. UH lost in the first round last year by 10 points to Syracuse.

        “Our guys' goals was to make it back to the (NCAA) Tournament and advance,” UH coach Riley Wallace said.

        That same mantra was being recited in the Cintas Center.

        “We're not happy just to get in the tournament,” XU senior forward Kevin Frey said. “We want to win.”

        The key question for early this week will be the status of XU junior Dave Young. The starting swingman sat out the last two games because of a hairline fracture in his left (non-shooting) wrist suffered last Thursday against Massachusetts. Matta said Young took off his splint Sunday night and would be X-rayed today, and that team physician Robert Burger had expressed hope Young would be available to play.

        “We're going to take (today) off from practice and get rest,” Matta said. “I want our guys to be mentally and physically ready to play this weekend, because you hope to play two games in 48 hours.”

       



Xavier Stories
- Xavier wants to do some damage
Hawaii has international lineup
XU's road to title game
Xavier wins Atlantic-10 tourney

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SULLIVAN: 65 teams not enough
Ohio St. confounded by seed, site
Ohio St. wins Big Ten tourney
UK warned: Don't look ahead
Goliaths don't scare Valparaiso
UK's road to title game
NCAA Men's Tournament preview
NCAA Men's Tournament schedule
NCAA Men's Tournament seedings
NCAA Women's Tournament preview
Men's NIT schedule
NIT takes half of Atlantic 10
NCAA Women's Tournament schedule
NKU women reach Elite Eight
Coming up this week
Division II women's basketball tournament
Hershey 2, Mighty Ducks 1
Wilmington women lose D-III regional
Bearcats low-key about high seed
UC sees Ohio State ahead
Most UC fans will get shut out
Terriers may be underdogs but they'll be dogged
UC's road to title game
UC women hope to make 'some noise'
Peahens are puzzle to Pirtle
UC wins C-USA tourney
Conference tourney just a warmup
Logan earns MVP honors
Clark named fourth outfielder
Added years don't hurt Pineda
Blue Jays 4, Reds 3
Three girls teams eye state basketball titles
Five boys teams enter regionals
Ohio girls state tournament pairings
Ohio boys regional pairings
Ky. boys Sweet 16 schedule
Ky. girls regional pairings


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