Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Xavier playing Stanford at right time


Cardinal lacks usual star power, but road win still important

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

PALTO ALTO, Calif. - It would be a lot easier to figure out Stanford if the big guns, Casey Jacobsen and Curtis Borchardt, were still around.

But they left early, declaring for the NBA draft after an 86-63 loss to Kansas last season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Their departure, along with the graduation of point guard Tony Giovacchini, has left the perennial top-25 Cardinal to begin the season on the outside of the national scene.

LINEUPS
XAVIER Yr. Ht. PPG
Lionel Chalmers Sr. 6-0 9.0
Romain Sato Jr. 6-5 23.0
Dave Young Sr. 6-5 6.0
David West Sr. 6-9 21.0
Anthony Myles Jr. 6-9 8.0
STANFORD Yr. Ht.PPG
Josh Childress So. 6-7 22.0
Justin Davis Jr. 6-8 10.0
Rob Little So. 6-102.0
Julius Barnes Sr. 6-1 5.0
Matt Lottich Jr. 6-4 12.0
Stanford has possessed star power in the past decade, with Brevin Knight, Jason and Jaron Collins, Jacobsen and Borchardt all coming through Maples Pavilion.

When the Cardinal hosts No.11 Xavier at 10:30 p.m. today, they will have a couple of potential stars , but no one who has been a go-to player.

"No question, I think they're looking at losing Borchardt and Jacobsen and saying now it's our turn," said Xavier coach Thad Matta. "From everything I've read about them, they're excited about this team."

Sophomore Josh Childress is the budding star. The 6-foot-7 forward became the first freshman since Knight in 1993-94 to start in his first game at Stanford. He scored in double figures in six games and averaged almost five rebounds last year.

In Monday's 61-57 comeback win against Boston University, Childress led Stanford with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Justin Davis scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and with Childress led a 17-4 second-half run that kept Stanford from an embarrassing loss.

With Childress and Davis stepping up, it's interesting to imagine what Stanford could do this season had Jacobsen and Borchardt stuck around.

"It's one of the tough things of college basketball these days that you just have to deal with," Matta said of the departures.

"They're Stanford. They've had a great program, so they're dealing with great players. They're going to be fine."

That's why this game means so much to Xavier . A win means a trip to the NIT semifinals next week, where there will be national televisionexposure at New York's Madison Square Garden, potentially against Florida and Kansas. A win also also would further legitimize XU's No.11 Associated Press ranking.

A loss to Stanford would result in a missed opportunity at increasing XU's schedule strength, which will be a factor come March when NCAA Tournament seeds are issued. Xavier needs games against high-profile opponents with quality RPI rankings to offset its Atlantic 10 Conference schedule. Last season the A-10 was 10th in conference RPI.

But none of that will matter if Xavier can pull out a win, by any margin, tonight.

"Every day gives us an opportunity to see what were made of," Matta said. "But you don't want to put your season in one game, but on the same token, it is a big game for us."

SUCCESS AGAINST THE WEST: Xavier has won its last two games against Pac-10 teams, including an 81-65 win against Washington at the 1999 Great Alaska Shootout and a 106-75 victory over Oregon in the 1999 postseason NIT.

IT PAYS TO STAY IN SCHOOL: David West has been named one of the players to watch for the Senior CLASS award handed out at the end of the season to the top senior men's and women's basketball player.

The CLASS acronym stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.

E-mail: ddow@enquirer.com



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