Saturday, November 1, 2003

West an afterthought in XU's new identity

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).

TV: None


Romain SatoSr.6-518.1
Anthony MylesSr.6-910.2
Lionel ChalmersSr.6-012.0
Dedrick FinnSo.6-17.6
Brandon ColeFr.6-8-
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).

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