Xavier counting on newcomers

Saturday, November 14, 1998

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier coach Skip Prosser knew he would need to be patient this fall. It has not always been easy.

With three days to go before Tuesday's season-opener at Butler, the Musketeers coaching staff has not been able to install as many offensive and defensive sets as it would have liked during this preseason.

Some of the newcomers have been slow to pick up on the plays and feel comfortable in the system.

"I think the effort's good, but around here that sort of goes without saying," Prosser said.

A quick look at each eligible newcomer:

Kevin Frey

  • Status: The 6-foot-8 freshman is a candidate to start at power forward.

  • Upside: Frey works hard, has good skills and instincts. He has proven he can score inside and outside. "He doesn't often make the same mistake twice, and if he does it's not from a lack of effort," Prosser said. Frey totaled 23 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots during the two exhibition games.

  • Needs work: Must show consistent effort, eliminate turnovers (six in two games), hit free throws and box out better. He runs the floor well, but probably not as fast as the Musketeers need him to.

  • Bottom line: Frey is going to contribute this season. His mistakes should decrease as he gets experience.

    Lloyd Price

  • Status: The 6-5 freshman could start at small forward or be the first player off the bench.

  • Upside: Price can do a little of everything. In two preseason games, he totaled 22 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, 10 steals and three blocks. And he has yet to show his outside shot. "He's playing very hard," Prosser said. "We're really pleased."

  • Needs work: Price can be a defensive standout if he plays hard every possession. He must make free throws (4-of-10 in exhibitions) and cut down on turnovers (seven). He excels at driving to the basket but is not accustomed to having a weak-side big man come over to help on defense. "He can get to the rim against just about anybody, but once he gets there, he's got to do positive things," Prosser said.

  • Bottom line: Price will help immediately in a variety of ways in whatever role he plays.

    Desmond Walker

  • Status: Could start, but the 6-8 junior probably will come off the bench at power forward and also at center while Obi Harris is hurt.

  • Upside: Walker brings athleticism to the frontline. He showed he can go get the ball with 10 rebounds against Hungary, and he's going to score off some of those rebounds.

  • Needs work: Shot selection. Walker missed four or five 15-foot jumpers in the exhibition games, and he's probably going to get most of his points closer to the basket. Defensively, he has to play hard every play. "Division I basketball is a big step up, even from the high level of junior college, and he needs to understand that," Prosser said. "He'll learn. It takes time."

  • Bottom line: Walker needs to keep improving, hustling and learning the plays to be on the floor more. He got in foul trouble vs. Athletes in Action, which limited his playing time. "The foul trouble he got into was not so much from lack of effort but lack of position," Prosser said.

    Obi Harris

  • Status: Out with a broken finger in right hand. Could get cast off Thursday.

  • Upside: The 6-foot-10 junior was improving before his injury. He is a pure shot blocker, which is something Xavier needs. Harris was trying hard and getting better at knowing where to be.

  • Needs work: Missing the two exhibition games and two intrasquad scrimmages didn't help. Harris needs experience, and those were his last chances before the wins and losses count. "Everything's new to him and he's missing all these repetitions, so it's extremely hurtful," Prosser said.

  • Bottom line: Once healthy, Harris will immediately contend with Reggie Butler for the starting center job. How soon he will be able to contribute - starting or off the bench - depends on how quickly Harris gets in shape and shows he knows the plays.

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