Sunday, February 16, 2003

Xavier 93, Rhode Island 70


Freshman Finn comes of age for Muskies

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[img]
Romain Sato celebrates after hitting one of his nine 3s.
(AP/Tom Uhlman photo)
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A quick glance at Saturday's Xavier-Rhode Island box score shows another dominating effort from David West and Romain Sato, the Musketeers' talented inside-outside combination.

Together they scored 60 points, including a career-high 34 from Sato, who set a Xavier record and tied an Atlantic 10 record with nine 3-pointers. The result at Cintas Center was a 93-70 win, the 18th-ranked Musketeers' ninth victory in a row.

But West's and Sato's stats don't reveal why they got their points. Thanks to freshman point guard Dedrick Finn, who set a career high with 11 assists, Xavier's players - Sato especially - made wide-open shots all game for a 49 percent success rate.

"Dedrick did a great job of making Sato look good," said Musketeers assistant coach John Groce. "Romain is a guy that other teams know who he is. If you don't hit him (with a pass) at the opportune time, and you wait too long, that takes away his shot."

Sato made nine of 16 3-pointers. He attempted just four shots from inside the arc.

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Dedrick Finn also had 8 points.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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It wasn't just Finn's assists that helped Sato and West. It was his patience in running Xavier's half-court offense.

Sato hit a 3-pointer midway through the first half that put the Musketeers ahead 24-8. The assist went to Lionel Chalmers, but Finn recognized that the first two options - a backdoor cut and a top-of-the-key shot - weren't available. By the time URI's defense caught up, Sato was wide open on the left wing.

Until Xavier coach Thad Matta challenged Finn to take charge of the team following a Jan.7 loss to Richmond, Finn's presence was hardly noticed. Since then, he has progressed into a pure point guard.

Of course, when Sato shoots better than 50 percent from behind the 3-point line and West makes seven of 11 shots, Finn looks pretty good.

"It makes it a lot easier," Finn said. "Once you get them the ball, they're hard to stop."

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Finn and David West react to a foul call.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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After West scored 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for his 63rd career double-double and 10th straight this season, he was more interested in talking about how Finn's ball distribution has made Xavier (18-4, 9-1) more dangerous.

"Offensively, we're way ahead of schedule," West said. "That's a testament to the guards. They're getting guys the ball when they need to in the right places."

Coming from a senior All-American, that sounds pretty good to Finn, who scored eight points and committed just one turnover.

"I'm glad," Finn said. "Especially coming from D.West, it feels good that he actually notices what I'm doing out there."

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Anthony Miles had 13 points.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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Chalmers' foot injury Dec.31 left Finn as the Musketeers' sole option at point guard. A series of 40-minutes games left him with confidence and experience.

"Dedrick has a tremendous understanding of the game of basketball," said Xavier coach Thad Matta. "Making the jump to college basketball, it helps with guys like David West and Romain. He'll slip back every now and then, and we'll get on him and he'll come back."

It's clear Finn has learned.

XU Notebook: Chalmers rides pine after fouls
XU women run past La Salle

Rhode IslandMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Adingono2341444314114
Clark11150010302
Smith33220076114
Woodward3051512652011
Hellenga2631244211011
Mack16361240217
Harmon2000000000
Robinson2561166411219
Mello5020000010
Wise7050030100
Momplaisir13130010212
Kalapos1000000000
Holm8020010100
Totals20025771618361418770
Team rebounds - 4.

XavierMFGAttFTAttRAFTOTP
Sato39112034952134
West3971112151650526
Myles2361112824213
Chalmers19150033422
Finn371656111118
Smith4120010002
Jackson24130061122
Christiansen1000010000
Caudle12340031206
Caldwell1010000100
Compton1000000000
Totals200316321275028151393
Team rebounds - 2.

Rhode Island2446-70
Xavier3954-93
3-pointers - RI 4-17 (Adingono 2-9, Woodard 0-1, Hellenga 1-4, Robinson 1-3), XU 10-24 (Sato 9-16, Chalmers 0-3, Finn 1-4, Caldwell 0-1). Technicals - XU 1 (Caudle). A-10,250.




XAVIER BASKETBALL
Xavier 93, Rhode Island 70
XU Notebook: Chalmers rides pine after fouls
XU women run past La Salle

UC BASKETBALL
Charlotte 74, UC 64

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