Monday, October 21, 2002

Long wait over for XU's Caudle

After a year of watching, forward battles to start

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        He's proved he can be patient. Now, forward Will Caudle is trying to show he belongs in Xavier's starting five.

Freshman Will Caudle goes to the basket (left) defended by Anthony Myles.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        It appears Caudle, who couldn't play in games last season because he was a partial qualifier, is competing with Anthony Myles for the final spot in the Musketeers' starting rotation.

        On Sunday, Caudle and Myles each started a 10-minute scrimmage with the four returning starters - Lionel Chalmers, David West, David Young and Romain Sato - in front of 2,489 at Cintas Center.

        XU coach Thad Matta isn't tipping his hand on the final piece of the lineup puzzle.

        “We're just looking at different possibilities,” Matta said.

        But Caudle clearly has benefited in many ways from last year, when he battled West in practice.

        After all, not everyone gets to guard one of the nation's best big men every day.

        “(West) gets you a lot better, that's for sure,” Caudle said. “He's tough. He's no pushover. You're going against an All-American, so you can't practice against anyone better.”

        That competition, plus a year of learning Matta's system, boosted Caudle's confidence.

        Now, it's just a matter of getting into a game for Caudle, who said it was hard at times last season just watching. He went to Chalmers, another partial qualifier who had to sit out a year, for advice.

        But Caudle said the most important encouragement came from Matta, who hammered home the message that Caudle would play in games soon enough.

        “It's a big difference this year, just the fact that I'm involved in the plays and they mean something,” Caudle said. “I'm enjoying it right now. Last year was kind of hard, but I turned it into a positive.”

        If Caudle and Myles can provide a stable presence down low, it will free up West, who wants to expand his offensive game away from the basket. Sunday night, he shot behind the 3-point line several times.

        “I've been working a little bit more away from the basket,” West said. “It's going to be a part of my game. It is a part of my game.”

        SMITH IMPRESSIVE: Freshman forward Angelo Smith rotated in with the first team and made the most of his opportunity, grabbing offensive rebounds and scoring on aggressive moves to the basket.

        He even dunked over West and Anthony Coleman on a fast break.

        “Angelo is going to be a heck of a player for us,” Matta said. “He does what he is supposed to do, and he's got great energy.”

        The addition of Smith and other athletic players like Dedrick Finn, along with returning swingman Keith Jackson, has Matta thinking up some interesting lineups.

        “We could move Lionel (Chalmers) down to the three spot,” Matta said, “and have Dedrick run the point.”



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