Sunday, September 29, 2002

Pacers may open Xavier camp to fans

NBA team to train at Cintas Center Oct. 1-7

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Indiana Pacers have changed their stance and will probably hold an open scrimmage near the end of training camp Oct. 1-7 at Xavier University's Cintas Center.

        Originally, the Pacers said there would be no availability for fans, but team president Donnie Walsh said that might change because of the NBA club's large fan base in Cincinnati.

        “At some point, we will probably have a scrimmage or something like that for fans to watch,” Walsh said. “We need to get down there to Xavier first and figure out our schedule, and then we'll release the information in plenty of time for fans to come watch. We're going there to get our work in. I think once practice is going the way the coaches want it to go, we'll come up with something for fans. Every coach wants their team to play in front of fans eventually.”

        Pacers spokesman David Benner said the team would practice daily from 9-11:30 a.m. and meet afterward with media.

        Indiana coach Isiah Thomas didn't necessarily want the Cincinnati training camp for fans so much as he wanted to be away from Indianapolis and the microscope of local media, Walsh said.

        So the Pacers looked at the University of Louisville's Freedom Hall and the University of Kentucky's Rupp Arena, but they found scheduling conflicts. Louisville coach Rick Pitino suggested the Pacers try the Cintas Center, Walsh said.

        “Pitino said he thought it was a great place,” Walsh said.

        “It seemed like Xavier really wanted us down there,” Walsh added. “It also seemed to us that Xavier had the best facility for holding a training camp.”

        Although the Pacers trained in Indianapolis last season, Walsh said the team usually goes on the road for camp. Recent locations include Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., the University of North Carolina and Purdue University.

        Two weeks ago, Thomas visited Cincinnati to look at the XU campus and sample restaurants.

        “He personally went down by himself,” Walsh said. “I think he's very excited.”


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