Thursday, January 2, 2003

Chalmers' injury ails No. 19 XU

Starter breaks right foot, leaves Musketeers with 1 point guard

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier's Lionel Chalmers is helped off the court at halftime of the game against Creighton at the Cintas Center Tuesday.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
Xavier University is down to one experienced point guard after learning that senior guard Lionel Chalmers will miss four to six weeks because of a broken right foot suffered in Tuesday's 75-73 win over 15th-ranked Creighton.

Freshman Dedrick Finn is the only player left that has played point guard this season as the 19th-ranked Musketeers prepare to play No. 1 Alabama (9-1) on Saturday.

Sophomore swingman Keith Jackson will replace Chalmers in the Musketeers' starting lineup after Jackson scored a career-high 17 points against Creighton. Chalmers averages 12.5 points per game.

Walk-on Keenan Christiansen moves to backup point guard. He has played only seven minutes all season.

"Injuries are a part of athletics," XU coach Thad Matta said. "Everyone hurts for Lionel right now, but other guys are going to have to step up. We're not depleted completely."

Alabama is coming off a 51-49 loss to Utah on Monday, but the Crimson Tide boasts one of the nation's best point guards. Sophomore Mo Williams leads the team with 51 assists and averages 16.3 points per game.

Chalmers' injury comes at a precarious time for Xavier (9-2), just days after senior Dave Young was dismissed from the team because of differences with Matta concerning his role and playing time. Young could have regained his starting position because of Chalmers' injury, but Matta said Young returning to the team isn't a possibility.

Young's dismissal, along with Anthony Coleman's departure on Dec. 19, leaves the Musketeers with seven scholarship players, five of whom are forwards or centers. Only Finn and Jackson are considered guards, although Romain Sato can play shooting guard.

If Chalmers misses only four weeks, Xavier would play seven games without him. The Musketeers play 10 games in the next six weeks.

Xavier is still coping with Young's departure, but beating Creighton helped in that regard, Jackson said.

"It had been eating at us," Jackson said. "Dave was a good friend, but you have to move on. It was hard on our hearts because we care about him, but it didn't affect our basketball."

Now, Jackson will not only be starting for the first time in his Xavier career, but he also will have to log more minutes than he normally would because of the depleted roster. Jackson played 36 minutes against Creighton, while three other starters, David West, Sato and Finn, each played the entire game.

"We lost the general of this team," West said. "Keith is going to have to step up now, and he knows that."

That's fine with Jackson.

"I've been waiting for this opportunity since I got here," he said.

Chalmers suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone three minutes into the game Tuesday but made no apparent contact with another player. According to Chalmers' father, Lionel Chalmers Sr., Chalmers made a sharp move in one direction and felt a twinge in his foot that hurt enough that he could no longer play.

Dr. Robert Raines and Dr. Robert Burger performed surgery on Chalmers' foot at Good Samaritan Hospital early Wednesday morning and inserted a screw that is supposed to expedite the healing process.

Burger said Chalmers will wear a splint for a couple of days and a protective boot for two to three weeks. With aggressive rehabilitation, Burger is hopeful Chalmers can return in four weeks.


Bumps in the road

A recap of Xavier's Roller-coaster month:

Dec. 14: Following a 71-61 loss to Mississippi State, All-American forward David West says the team didn't play hard. He adds: "Guys are confident ... maybe guys are a little too confident."

Dec. 19: Sophomore Anthony Coleman announces he's leaving the basketball program. "It just didn't work out for me here to play as many minutes as I'd like to play," Coleman said.

Dec. 20: Guard Dedrick Finn and Ball State's Chris Williams are separated by teammates at the end of Xavier's 87-58 win. Williams was running out the clock when Finn stole the ball and drove toward the Musketeers' basket. Williams tackled Finn as time expired.

Dec. 28:v West blasts his teammates after Xavier beats Eastern Kentucky 84-60 for what he calls "selfish play."

"We've got guys on this team that won't pass to certain guys, won't rebound if they're not getting the ball, won't screen if they're not getting the ball," West said.

Dec. 30: Guard Dave Young is dismissed from the basketball team after a shouting match with coach Thad Matta during the Eastern Kentucky game. Young was unhappy about his lack of playing time.

, and added both he and Xavier coaches thought the dismissal was the right decision.

Dec. 31: Guard Lionel Chalmersv breaks his right foot in Xavier's 75-73 win against Creighton. He had surgery Wednesday and will be sidelined for about a month.



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