Saturday, January 30, 1999

Muskies turn page to Dayton

XU hasn't won at UD in 5 years

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This was Skip Prosser's challenge Friday: Get the Xavier players to remember Thursday night's loss to Cincinnati, and at the same time turn the page to today's game at Dayton (noon, ESPN).

        “I want you to remember how badly you felt, how you hated that last 45 seconds, how you hated being in that locker room after the game,” Prosser said. “You've got to hate losing more than you revel in winning.”

• When: Noon today
• Where: UD Arena (13,455)
• Records: Xavier 15-5, 7-0 Atlantic-10; Dayton 8-10, 3-5
• Radio: HOMER (WCKY-AM 1360)
• 9-1: Dayton's record in afternoon home games under Purnell, including seven consecutive victories
• 44: XU's Rating Percentage Index ranking Friday
• 33: XU's Sagarin Rating
        That noted, it was time for the Musketeers to get ready for a big Atlantic 10 West Division game in a place they have not won in five years.

        XU seniors Gary Lumpkin and Lenny Brown are 0-3 at UD Arena, and senior James Posey is 0-2. Prosser hasn't won there since January 1993, when he was a Xavier assis tant coach.

        The struggling Flyers, who shared the A-10 West title with Xavier and George Washington last year, are just 8-10. They're in fourth place in the division at 3-5, 41/2 games behind the Musketeers (15-5, 7-0).

        Most surprising is that Dayton has already lost four times at home this season, including Thursday night against Massachusetts (59-57 in overtime) and Jan. 21 against Virginia Tech (73-64 in overtime). Last season, the Flyers were unbeaten in league play at home.

        “I just know I haven't got too many more games, that's my motivation,” Brown said.

        The atmosphere at UD Arena is the best in the Atlantic 10. Dayton has led the conference in attendance since joining in 1994-95. The crowd is loud, supportive and energetic throughout the game. The players respond, especially with the Blackburn/McCafferty Trophy at stake.

        “Most teams play better at home,” Dayton coach Oliver Purnell said.

        “I wouldn't say that we have (Xavier's) number by any stretch of the imagination. We play well at home, they're our arch-rival, we get up for that game and we've been fortunate to win all those close games the last three times we've played them at home.”

        Dayton presents some of the same problems as UC.

        The Flyers have a great outside threat in sophomore guard Tony Stanley, who leads the team with 16.1 points a game, and a big man inside in Mark Ashman, who averages 15.6 points and 5.8 rebounds.

        Last season at Dayton, Ashman had 18 points and seven rebounds. The Flyers will go after offensive rebounds, just like the Bearcats, who had 21 Thursday night.

        For Xavier, it is important to get back on track. The next games are in Philadelphia, at St. Joseph's and La Salle. The Musketeers have won 11 consecutive conference games dating to last season, including the league tournament.

        Coming back to play 36 hours after finishing its last game is physically and emotionally challenging, Prosser said. But there is no choice. After the UC loss, Prosser said: “I vented, we prayed, then I started talking about Dayton.”

        “Dayton's good enough to beat us,” Prosser said. “Cincinnati beat us (Thursday) night; we don't want Cincinnati to be part of beating us Saturday.”

        “I don't forget losses too quickly,” Lumpkin said. “When we play Dayton, I'm going to remember what we did wrong in the last game. When you lose, you should have that much more incentive to come back and crush the next team.”

        A half hour before Friday's practice, Posey was in the lounge area outside of XU's locker room reading the newspaper accounts of the 87-77 Crosstown Shootout loss to the Bearcats.

        He said all day people came up to him on campus to say “good game.”

        “I didn't get to bed until 4 o'clock (a.m.),” Posey said. “I couldn't sleep, just thinking about the chances that we had and the things that I didn't do.

        “It's tough just to put the loss behind and start concentrating on the next opponent. I'm still thinking about it.”

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