By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer
It's just an exhibition game. It doesn't matter which team wins or loses or who scores the most points. Come Sunday, Xavier University will still be 0-0.
But today's game at 2 p.m. at Cintas Center offers more than the usual preseason warmup for Xavier players. When Xavier plays the EA Sports All-Stars, the Musketeers will try to establish a new identity without David West.
Even this season with four returning starters, Xavier players have heard plenty about their former teammate, last season's Associated Press Player of the Year.
And no disrespect to West, but they're getting a little sick of it.
"Everything has been all about, 'We lost D. West, and we're not going to be that good,' " said sophomore point guard and returning starter Dedrick Finn. "We don't have the national player of the year, but even without him, we're still a good team."
Xavier has plenty of returning experience in Lionel Chalmers, Finn, Romain Sato and Anthony Myles. Coach Thad Matta has yet to officially name the fifth starter at power forward, but it's likely to be redshirt freshman Brandon Cole, who has been impressive in practice.
"It's been more of, 'Hey, this is the team that we have, and let's make this team the best that we can,' " Matta said of XU's identity. "We can't change the past, but there may be a little bit of a mindset for guys to say, 'Hey, this is who we are.' "
The team has two weeks to come together before its season opener.
"Every team has to have an identity, and we definitely want to get to that point," Chalmers said. "I think it's early in the season, and we haven't played a game, so this definitely gives us a chance to see where we're at as far as that goes."
Xavier vs. EA Sports All-Stars
Tipoff: 2 p.m. today, Cintas Center (10,250).
Records: XU 25-5 in 2002-03.
Radio: WLW-AM (700).
Coach: Thad Matta (52-12, third season; 76-20 overall).
EA Sports' roster includes former college players Paul Shirley (Iowa State), Lonnie Jones (Ball State), Mike Chappell (Michigan State) and Ricky Price (Duke).
USF 24, UC 17 (2 OT)
Ross soldiering on as OSU's rushing threat
Kentucky, Arkansas desperate for a win
'Noles, Irish reverse roles
Michigan rivalry could have winner smelling roses
Today's Top 25 games
UC to announce move to Big East
For UC, exhibition is welcome competition
West an afterthought in XU's new identity
BENGALS / NFL
Blake steadying influence for Cardinals
Isolation booth: Hardy vs. Shipp
Keys to victory
Notes: Dillon, Bennett upgraded
Tough guy Favre just gets it done
Criticism of officials costs Billick $15,000
Edgewood 35, Vandalia Butler 32
Kings 17, Wilmington 10
Dayton Carroll 14, McNicholas 0
Morral Ridgedale 43, Jacobs 6
Roundup of other Ohio playoff games
Ryle 20, Scott 14
Lloyd 55, Newport 26
Roundup of other Kentucky games
Anderson's goal: 1st playoff win since '92
Lancers hope history helps them tonight
Crosby's return to Mariemont a successful one
Comets want to show they belong
ON THE AIR
Sports on TV, radio
Return to Xavier front page...