Friday, March 19, 2004

Upset of St. Joe's a popular subject


XU notebook

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

ORLANDO, Fla. - Xavier players spent part of Thursday's NCAA Tournament media day at T.D. Waterhouse Centre fielding questions about their dominating upset win against previously unbeaten Saint Joseph's last week.

It's a win of such magnitude that the media won't let it go away. And neither did Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who had to prepare his team for tonight's first-round game against Xavier (23-10).

What did Pitino do? He showed Louisville (20-9) tapes of Xavier's first half against Saint Joseph's March 11 when the Musketeers built a 22-point halftime lead and went on to win 87-67.

"Our players were just staring at the television mesmerized," Pitino said. "They didn't quite understand what they were watching because they have great respect for Saint Joe's."

The tape looked a lot like what Louisville players were used to seeing on upcoming opponents except for one thing: It wasn't edited to include just the highlights.

"When we put tapes together of the teams we play, it looks like the Lakers," Pitino said. "Every shot goes in. Every dunk is awesome. But in this case we didn't do that. We showed them the full 20 minutes of basketball. And that was good as anything."

BACK ON TRACK? Louisville has lost eight of its last 12 games coming into tonight's game, but standout forward Francisco Garcia said the team's problems have been solved.

Recent practices have brought the team closer, Garcia said.

"We had a couple meetings," Garcia said. "We talked about what the problem is. The last couple practices everybody has looked out for each other. When somebody gets beat, someone has to step up."

Garcia also said he won't be trading verbal jabs tonight with Xavier's Romain Sato, Garcia's likely defensive matchup.

"I'm going to be real focused in this game," Garcia said. "I'm not going to be talking trash. That's not going to win the game."

FULL GO: Louisville's three players who have battle injuries during the second half of the season appear at or close to full health for tonight's game.

Garcia and Luke Whitehead have completely recovered from ankle injuries, and Taquan Dean is all but over a groin injury.

E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




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