Friday, November 5, 2004

The point is still left to be made

By Dustin Dow Enquirer staff writer

One season of junior-college ball has helped Dupree Lucas (left) adjust to the speed of Division I basketball.

The competition to replace injured Xavier point guard Dedrick Finn is fierce.

Finn, who sprained his left knee last week in practice, might miss the Nov. 19 opener against Oakland. For now, three newcomers - Churchill Odia, Dupree Lucas and Stanley Burrell - are taking a crash course in the point guard role. If one emerges as a natural, it could pay dividends for the Musketeers down the road and allow Finn to play frequently at shooting guard, where he's more effective.

"As (Odia) blossoms and Dupree Lucas continues to learn, I think that flexibility will become more apparent where Dedrick can play both positions," Xavier coach Sean Miller said.

With that in mind, there are three first-year players to look for at point guard now, next week and well into the season.

Churchill Odia

Freshman, 6 feet 6, 205 pounds

Style points: Playmaking point guard whose presence will enable Xavier to play a fast-paced brand of basketball. Creates plays and can make the outside shot.

The advantage: Size. Odia can see over the top of pressure defenses and create his own defensive advantage.

The disadvantage: Didn't play his senior year of high school; he has the most to learn, especially defensively.

Coach's observation: "Churchill has made rapid improvement defensively since Day 1, when people would just get by him. ... He's putting forth the effort to make himself a better defender." - Xavier assistant Monte Mathis

The bottom line: Was recruited to be the point guard at Xavier. The only question is how soon it goes into effect.

Dupree Lucas

Sophomore, 6-2, 175

Style points: Won't overwhelm anybody with talent but is a model of reliability and a stingy defender.

The advantage: Understands college-level defensive philosophies. With a young team, Miller's greatest concern is on the defensive end, and Lucas provides reassuring consistency there.

The disadvantage: Size. Physically smaller than most opponents and susceptible to full-court presses and half-court traps.

Coach's observation: "He's extremely quick. On offense he makes easy plays. He runs the team and takes care of the ball. ... It's a long season with injuries and things that have already set us back. And he gives us a lot more flexibility." - Miller

The bottom line: Season of junior college helps; he's already accustomed to the pace of college basketball.

Stanley Burrell

Freshman, 6-3, 200

Style points: An explosive scorer, which probably makes him a better shooting guard than a point guard.

The advantage: A lot like

Lionel Chalmers. Capable of making plays off the dribble, can easily slide over to the point.

The disadvantage: Un-

bridled style also leads to mistakes, which is why he's likely to stay at shooting guard.

Coach's observation: "I

think eventually Stanley will be able to play the point, but I think right now, because of our team's needs . . . we've really tried to keep him almost as our emergency point guard."

- Miller

The bottom line: Will play a lot, but not at point guard. He's a high-impact player at shooting guard and possibly less dangerous there as well.


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