Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Sato intent on being Muskies' driving force

Senior's goal is to increase drives and get to the line

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The kinder, gentler Romain Sato is a player of the past.

The Xavier senior All-America candidate said his aggressive play and propensity to drive to the basket in Saturday's exhibition game is a sign of things to come this season.

"All the coaches at the Nike camp this summer, that's what they told me to do," Sato said. "They told me I'm a real good shooter, but one thing I need to do is get to the foul line, because I'm a good free throw shooter."

The quickest way to the foul line is by penetrating the lane with a dribble, and with Sato's size and strength, there are few guards who can prevent him from scoring without fouling.

But what Sato did Saturday was an uncommon sight last season, when he often took perimeter jump shots or pulled up in the lane for a short jumper, deferring to David West for close-range shots.

"The way we played last year, West was there for the ball in the post," Sato said. "He's open in the post, why not pass him the ball."

This year, the lane will be there for Sato's taking, and he demonstrated Saturday he's just as dangerous doing that as pulling up from 3-point range.

"He took good shots on Saturday, and showed his ability to drive and get fouled," said Xavier coach Thad Matta. "And those are things we've been asking him to do. But I think the biggest thing was his defense. He did a much better job of having awareness defensively than he ever has."

Sato's overall basketball knowledge of what to do and when to do it is still expanding. He's been playing for just seven years, and coaches say he's always improving his understanding of pace, and moving without the ball.

A-10 MOVES: The Atlantic 10 presidents will hold a conference call today that could result in a vote to offer invitations to two of the three schools being considered for expansion. Charlotte and Saint Louis of Conference USA, and Boston University of the America East conference are the three schools under consideration. Charlotte and Saint Louis are believed to be heavy frontrunners.

George Washington president Stephen Trachtenberg, chairman of the A-10 presidents' council, has pushed for Boston University's inclusion, but it is believed he does not have the votes from the other presidents to support such action. Any expansion moves must have 75 percent approval, or at least nine of 12 votes.

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