Musketeers and Cardinal Meet for Berth In Preseason NIT Semifinals
Nov. 20, 2002
Although his squad has played only one game, Xavier coach Thad Matta isstarting to believe the team has what it takes to play deep into March.
The No. 11 Musketeers look to continue to improve on the defensive end whenthey visit the Cardinal in the quarterfinals of the Preseason NIT onWednesday.
Matta knows Xavier can score, with David West and Romain Sato leading astrong offense. But the second-year coach wasn't pleased with theMusketeers' defense in exhibition games.
West and Sato combined for 44 points Monday night as Xavier routed St.Peter's 87-48 in the opening round of the tournament, but Matta was moreimpressed with the Musketeers' defensive effort.
Xavier converted 19 turnovers into 22 points and held St. Peter's to 17points in the first half and 32 percent shooting for the game.
'That was huge for us,' Matta said. 'Going into the game, our focus was ondefense. I don't think I said two words since last Tuesday about ouroffense.'
The offense is still a work in progress. Xavier is trying to be morebalanced this season by not relying too heavily on West's inside scoring.
'With this team, you're going to have to pick your poison,' said West, apreseason All-American who was 9-of-16 from the field. 'We have a lot ofweapons. It was our first game, and we're going to get better.'
Stanford is hoping to get better after opening its season with a 61-57 winover Boston University on Monday night.
Stanford looked tentative in scoring only 19 points in the first half, butJosh Childress scored 15 of his 22 points after intermission as the Cardinaloutscored the Terriers 42-34 in the second half.
'We're a good shooting team and we were frustrated in the first half. All they would give us were the 3s,' said Childress, who also had 11 rebounds. 'We just kept at it and it started to pay off in the second half.'
The winner of this game advances to the semifinals next Wednesday at MadisonSquare Garden.