Thursday, January 23, 2003

Prosser, Gillen friendly foes again


Former XU coaches in key ACC matchup

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier fans can appreciate the successes of two former Musketeers coaches at 7p.m. today when Virginia plays host to Wake Forest.

The Atlantic Coast Conference game, televised by ESPN2, will match Wake's Skip Prosser against Virginia's Pete Gillen, the two XU head coaches prior to Thad Matta's arrival in 2001.

Last season was the first time the former Xavier coaches faced each other (Virginia won 86-74 in Charlottesville, Va.; Wake won 92-70 in Winston-Salem, N.C.), but that doesn't make it any easier this time.

"It's a special game," Gillen said. "And a game that I hate to play. I don't like it at all, but the reality is we're both in this league so we have to play each other."

Gillen brought Xavier's program into national prominence as coach from 1985-94. Prosser worked under Gillen as an assistant and assumed head coaching duties when Gillen left for Providence after the 1994 season. When Prosser left for Wake Forest following the 2001 season, Gillen had been at Virginia since 1998.

Gillen said there is a chance emotion could get the best of him going against Prosser.

"I'm an emotional guy," he said. "I cry when a supermarket opens or closes. I can't not like Skip. I'm proud of him, and I'm sure he would have done just the same without Pete Gillen."

Wake Forest enters tonight's game with the better record (12-1, 2-1 ACC) and one of the conference's best players in Josh Howard.

Virginia (10-6, 1-3) has lost four of its last five games, including an 18-point setback at Virginia Tech Tuesday, but the Cavaliers are 7-0 at home this season.

With a chance to grab a share of first place in the conference, Prosser can't treat this game like any other.

"I owe a great deal to Coach Gillen," Prosser said. "He gave me to the opportunity to coach at the Division I level. It's difficult, because you wish you didn't have to coach against friends."

E-mail ddow@enquirer.com



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