Thursday, March 13, 2003

XU right at home in UD Arena

Muskies confident after recent success here

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[img] Romain Sato keeps the basketball from Keith Jackson, bumping it from knee to knee like a soccer ball, at the end of practice Wednesday at UD Arena.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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DAYTON, Ohio - Xavier might not feel right at home for its quarterfinal matchup today with George Washington in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. But the 10th-ranked Musketeers feel pretty comfortable in University of Dayton Arena, where they have won the last two times they played there in regular-season games against Dayton.

"It helps a little bit because it's a familiar surrounding," said Xavier coach Thad Matta, who coached and won his first A-10 Tournament last season in Philadelphia. "Last year going into the Spectrum, I had never been there and new guys had never been there. I think it will be kind of like the ultimate tournament environment (in Dayton)."

Matta is undefeated at UD Arena in two seasons as XU's coach. Having had success in the arena is somewhat reassuring to the Musketeers (24-4), who will be the home team throughout the tournament as the top seed.

"It helps," David West said of playing in Dayton. "I don't think guys consider this a bad place to play. It's a good arena and we've played well here."

[img] David West spins the ball on his finger as coach Thad Matta directs his players at the beginning of practice.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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Xavier will need to keep up that trend today against George Washington (12-16), which comes into the quarterfinal having won at Massachusetts in the first round. The Colonials also have circled Xavier as a team to beat ever since March 1, when West's last-second tip-in gave Xavier a 71-70 victory over GW at Cintas Center. XU won only after video replay confirmed that West beat the final buzzer.

"I think that game was a blessing," said GW coach Karl Hobbs. "Our team had a chance to see what it feels like to win and what it feels like to lose in one instance. It's very rare that a team gets to experience the joy of winning and the agony of defeat in one moment."

Wednesday, Xavier players said it's time to put the regular season and its successes, including the GW win, behind them.

[img] Lionel Chalmers celebrates after making a 3.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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"It's a new season now," West said. "We have to refocus and get ready to play again. Our main task is to win the conference tournament championship also."

It would seem the Musketeers have little left to prove in the A-10.

That's why Matta broke down the season into four stages, with the conference tournament being the third stage. With two newcomers in the lineup, Anthony Myles and Dedrick Finn, it's important that they realize the magnitude of the tournament.

"We talk to them about that a lot," Matta said. "These guys, normally in their lives, their season is over by now. You have to continue to drive yourself and get better. And you have to think outside the box and realize that now is when teams win."

The lineups:

Lionel ChalmersSr.6-011.5
Romain SatoJr.6-518.1
Dedrick FinnFr.6-17.8
David WestSr.6-920.4
Anthony MylesJr.6-910.6
Coach: Thad Matta (50-10, second season; 74-18 overall).

Chris MonroeSr.6-320.2
Mike HallFr.6-89.8
T.J. ThompsonSo.5-1012.6
P. Mensah-BonsuFr.6-910.1
Tamal ForchionSo.6-64.1
Coach: Karl Hobbs (24-32, second season; 24-32).

Scores and game wrap-ups

Bearcats blindsided by Southern Miss
DAUGHERTY: Committee holds UC's fate
Like Mardi Gras for Southern Miss
Other Conference USA games
C-USA Tournament Glance
Marquette's Wade C-USA player of year

XU right at home in UD Arena
West again A-10 player of year
Dayton finally gets to play

For Miami, first things first
Does UK need to lose?
UK sweeps SEC coaches' honors
Big East: St. John's trips Notre Dame
Wagner wins Northeast berth
Weber St. to represent Big Sky
Georgia players sue school

Bengals clearing path for Palmer
TE Kelly first addition to Bengals' offense
Playoffs Spikes' top priority in Buffalo
Blake steps into Arizona QB job
Luchey ready to start winning
NFL minorities organize
Raiders sign ex-49er Stubblefield
Officiating mistakes lead to dismissals

Manzanillo could land in bullpen
Reds Notebook: Wilson's debut delayed
Yankees 10, Reds 5
Schott hospitalized again
Piazza charges mound after plunking
Other spring training games
Spring Training Standings
Bonds' ball dispute settled
Baseball Notebook: Ex-Red may have cancer

Arnie and Jack stage final go-round

Roddick rides serve to second-round win

Today's basketball schedule
NCH girls carry city banner to state
6-8 Clemons leads Reading to final
Madeira's surprise run ends
Middletown dumps boys basketball coach
Ky. Games: Holy Cross, Boone, Brossart advance

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