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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Xavier Prevails Over A Scrappy St. John's Team

On paper it looked like it should be a blowout.

St. John's came into the game winless in nine Big East Games.  Xavier battled its way into the number 6 team in the AP poll and number 5 in the USA Today coaches poll.

No one told the St. John's players that they should get blown out. Although the came away with its 13th straight loss and 10 loss in the Big East as Xavier finished off the Red Storm (Redmen to you oldtimers) 90-83, Their first year coach and NBA great Chris Mullin thought his team played winning basketball.

Mullin should know. He led the Redmen to the final four in 1984-85. Mullin had a distinguished 10-year NBA career, mostly with the Golden State Warriors.

"I couldn't be more proud of my team," Mullin said "That was winning basketball we played tonight. Xavier is a great team, one of the best in the country. They were bigger than we were so they outrebounded us and the free throws are self explanatory>'

Xavier (20-2, 8-2 Big East) pulled in 49 rebounds to St. John's (7-16, 0-10 Big East) 34.  Xavier didn't shoot well from the foul line 27-40 but shot a lot from the charity stripe. St. John's had just 21 attempts and made 13 of them, a 14 point deficit.

Jalen Reynolds was just 1-of-8 from the line, costing him a chance to join Myles Davis (16), Trevon Bluiett (15), J.P. Macura (12), James Farr (11) and Edmond Sumner (10) as a double figures scorer.

Xavier is the first team in the NCAA to reach the 20 win plateau and coach Chris Mack pointed it out to fans who may have been disappointed in the margin of victory and the second highest point total allowed by the Musketeers on the season.

"It wasn't what outsiders and fans expected," Mack said.. "Tip you hat to St. John's. They played hard. There were plays we could have made to break the game open that we didn't make and plays they made to keep them in the game. St. John's plays downhill.  There are a lot of possessions. If you're judging by point totals, it's bad. But it wasn't as bad as it looks."

St. John's put four players in double figures. Felix Balamou led the Red Storm with 20.  Durand Johnson added 18. Kassoum Yakwe had 14 and Ron Mvouika scored 10.  Yakwe added seven rebounds.

Bluiett led the Musketeers with 13.  Macura had five offensive rebounds to allow Xavier to maintain control.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Xavier Farr Sighted Against Seton Hall

James Farr is putting together a phenomenal year.

His 24 points led the Xavier Musketeers to a bounce back 84-76 win over the Seton Hall Pirates.

Farr, who was third in the Big East with 8.8 rebounds per game gathered in 15 to allow Xavier to outrebound the Pirates as they have all but one opponent this season.

The Xavier (17-2, 5-2 Big East) extricated their loss to Georgetown on Tuesday from their memory by handing the young Seton Hall (13-6, 3-4 Big East) its second straight loss. They dropped a close 72-71 contest to conference leader Villanova on Wednesday.

Sophomore Desi Rodriguez had 21 points and tied teammate Ismael Sanogo with eight rebounds.

"This is a very talented Seton Hall team," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "They are going to make some noise in March."

Trevon Bluiett had 15 points and Edmond Sumner added 13 for the Musketeers.

Khadeen Carrington had 19 points and Isaiah Whitehead added 17 to the Pirates cause.

Xavier led 40-36 at the half.  Seton Hall closed to within one point at 15-49 with 15:57 left in the game.
The Musketeers asserted itself with a 21-7 run to reach its largest led of 15 (71-56) with 8:30 left to play.

Seton Hall's last basket with three seconds left provided the final eight-point margin.
"They played a good 1-3-1 zone," said Seton Hall's lone senior Derrick Gordon, who played against Xavier junior Myles Davis in Plainfield, New Jersey. "Our shots didn't fall then we lost focus on defense."

Gordon, who lived five miles from Davis in New Jersey compared the Musketeers with the Villanova team that beat the Pirates by a point on Wednesday.

"They're both great teams they are both at the top of the conference," Gordon sadi. "I think Xavier is a little better."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hoya Paranoia Justified

Xavier was on their best start in history but the mystique of Georgetown was too strong.

The Georgetown Hoyas (12-7, 5-2 Big East) shot nearly 50 percent from the floor against on of the nation's best defense to defeat the Xavier Musketeers (16-2 4-2 Big East), 81-72.

Tre Campbell had never scored more than 15 points in a game dropped 21 on the Musketeers' unsuspecting heads to pull the upset over the #5 team in the polls.

"We didn't get them off their comfort zone," Xavier senior Myles Davis said.

Campbell felt it was just his time.

"I was in a rhythm and my teammates kept finding me," said Campbell, who averaged a little over 3.5 points per game coming in"

Xavier led by seven points with 6:16 left in the first half but the Hoyas took a 39-33 lead into halftime and never let up.  Xavier found themselves down by 12 with 4:51 left in the game

When Xavier closed within two points at 51-49 with 11:04 left in the game.  Georgetown had an answer. A minute and a half later T.J. Peak got a fastbreak dunk off a defensive rebound by Devauntes Smith-Rivera and Georgetown sported an 11-point lead.

"I'm going to give Georgetown a lot of credit," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "They had an answer for every run. We played man defense and zone and they handled it.  They played really, really well."

Xavier had problems finishing shots around the basket.  The Musketeers made 10 of 28 (36%) 3-point shots but were only 14-for-40 inside (35%). Compounding the shooting slump the Musketeers were outrebounded for the first time this season.  It was Xavier's worst shooting night of the season.

"We didn't finish a lot of shots," Mack said. "Our front court and our back court were bothered by their size. They blocked seven shots."

Georgetown took 17 fewer shots as Xavier took a season high 68 shots. Xavier had 13 offensive rebounds and very few turnovers (5) but couldn't score enough.

"I can't answer why we shot 50 percent tonight," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "I spent the last two days trying to figure out why we only shot 33 percent against Villanova.  This is just a really good league.  The ball just went in tonight. And we were in position to shoot when we got the ball. Xavier closes really fast but we got off some quick shots off good looks at the basket."

Devauntes Smith-Rivera, who scored 20 points, was heavily recruited by Xavier but chose Georgetown, still he talked to Mack before the game.

"I still have a close relationship with him," Smith-Rivera said.  "It is fun to come in here and win.  I enjoy the crowd reactions."  He was booed by the Xavier fans each time he touched the ball.

Peak added 13 points, grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds and blocked two shots for the Hoyas. Freshman Jessie Govan 13 points and six rebounds.

Trevon Bluiett led Xavier with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Davis finished with 15 points.  Freshman Edmond Sumner contributed 10 points.

Finally Pete Rose To Be Inducted In Hall Of Fame As 11-Year Ol Predicts

In the winter of 1964 a poem was read to a group the Ballplayers Of Yesterday.

It was a group of former baseball players that would meet for an annual banquet.  Former Cincinnati Reds public relations director Hank Zureick read the poem written by an 11-year old, who used the tune of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to work out the rhythm of the poem.

Pete Rose had just completed his rookie season with the Reds.

Pete Rose the rookie Redleg
Swung a very lively bat
He was proud of the Red C
Stiched upon his baseball cap

All of the other Redlegs
Used to laugh and call him names (like Charlie Hustle)
They didn't want young Pete Rose
To take over for Blasingame

Then one sunny Tampa day
Hutch came out to say
Pete Rose with your hustling play
You will start on Opening Day

And how the Reds fans loved him
As he hustled every game
Pete Rose the rookie Redleg
You'll go in the Hall of Fame

That prophecy will come true on the weekend of June 24-26 when the Reds play the San Diego Padres, one of 10 teams that didn't exist when Rose started his 20-year playing career.

It will not be the National Hall of Fame in Cooperstown New York but the Cincinnati Reds own shrine adjacent to Great American Ball Park.  Rose's number 14 which has been used by just one player, his son Pete Rose Jr., since Rose left the Reds.  Now and forever that number will be officially retired.

Rose is technically ineligible for the National Hall of Fame because of a lifetime suspension for betting on baseball. His latest appeal was upheld by first-year baseball commissioner Rob Manfred but he opened the door for Rose to participate in Cincinnati ceremonial events.  He will no longer be required to buy a ticket to attend games.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Xavier Exorcises Demons

Last season an overmatched DePaul Blue Demon squad handled the Xavier Musketeers in Chicago with a 71-68 win at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago.

This time Xavier (15-1, 3-1 Big East) boasted a #7 national ranking and now has their best record ever after 16 games at 15-1 with a 84-64 win over DePaul (6-11, 0-5 Big East).

Trevon Bluiett scored the first nine points for Xavier enroute to 19 first half points.  He finished with a career-high 24.  Bluiett nailed a pair of 3-point shots and made three free throws after he was fouled on his third attempt.  At one point he outscored DePaul by himself at 15-8.

Bluiett also pulled down six rebounds, second to team leader Jalen Reynolds, who had seven.  Myles Davis had 14 and J.P Macura contributed 13 points.  Freshman Kaiser Gates scored a season-high 11 for the Musketeers.

"Kaiser is earning more time.  He may be the second best shooter on the team," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "We may have to hold a game of horse to see if he is the best."

Gates from Alpharetta, Georgia is taking advantage of an injury to Edmond Sumner, who is Xavier's most promising freshman.  He scored 10 in a win against Butler but none at St. John despite logging 12 minutes in each game. He played 16 minutes against DePaul.

DePaul senior Myke Henry, who led the Blue Demons with 16 points and eight rebounds, credited Xavier's freshman with being the difference between the Musketeers tonight and the team that dropped the game to DePaul last year.

"They had a freshman come in a play with a lot of energy," Henry said.  "We didn't play well. The coaches prepared us for their 1-3-1 zone but we didn't execute.

Mack passed Skip Prosser to move into second place all-time with 149 wins.  Xavier improved to 210-30 all-time at the Cintas Center.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Xavier Bounces Back Against Butler

Xavier fell of its high horse on Thursday and bruised their sixth ranked ego.

Two days after Villanova humbled the Musketeers 95-64 in Philadelphia, Xavier (13-1, 1-1 Big East) took down long time rival the Butler Bulldogs 88-69.

Xavier now owns and all-time record of 36-18 over Butler (11-3, 0-2 Big East).

Remy Abell picked up the slack for the injured freshman Edmond Sumner, who was hurt early in the game against Villanova.

Abell scored a career-high 21 points with 3-for-3 from long range. Abell led a cast of five players who scored in double figures and on player who rebounded in double digits.

"I am happy for Remy," said Xavier coach Chris Mack, who was equally thrilled that his team rebounded in the fashion it did after the nightmare in Philadelphia.  "Remy is a kid that never changed expression. He always has a smile on his face. Even when he is having trouble on offense, he always gives all he has on the defensive end."

The Xavier defense bothered the visiting Bulldogs.

"They  are hard nosed and made life difficult for us," Butler senior Kellen Dunham said. "We wanted to set a better tone. We have to do a much better job."

Dunham did not start because he had been in a shooting slump that forced his coach Chris Holtermann to alter his starting lineup.

Butler is 0-2 on the Big East in spite of its rightful place in the AP poll at number nine.

"We are just not the team we need to be now," said Holtermann after his team also lost at home on Thursday to Providence 81-73. The 73 points was a season low until now..

"I was happy to see some shots fall but it wasn't enough. I was shooting with the expectations that they will go in. They are going to go in. I have confidence the rest of the year." Both teams knew they had to rebound on a short turnaround.

"It was a tough turnaround for both teams," Mack said. "Most importantly we responded with energy. We beat a good team that doesn't give an inch. It is the character of those guys in our locker room. Coaches tend to hold on to the negative things longer.  It is a credit to our team's resiliency that they responded the way they did. Their resiliency is outstanding."

Jalen Reynolds and Trevon Bluiett backed Abell up with 13 points each.  Myles Davis scored 10 and none of the points were bigger than his 3-point shot at the end of the first half that gave Xavier a 45-35 halftime lead. Freshman Kaiser Gates, who earned more playing time with the absence of Sumner, scored 10 points. James Farr cleared the boards with a game-high 10 rebounds.

The Bulldogs closed the gap to three on a 3-point shot by Dunham with 12:29 left in the game. Dunham had gone four games without a making a 3-point shot (0-for-21) in his last for games and was just 2-for-32 in his last five contests.

Dunham was 3-for-5 against the Musketeers.

"I was happy to see some shots fall but it wasn't enough. I was shooting with the expectations that they will go in. They are going to go in. I have confidence the rest of the year," Dunham said.

Rosevelt Jones led Butler with 14 points one more than Dunham. Kelan Martin scored 11. Tyler Lewis and Andrew Chrabascz contributed 10 but Bulter's 69 points is a season low mark in spite of Lewis' 3-pointer that beat the final buzzer.

Xavier can hold its head up as they travel to New York to play St. John's on Wednesday.  Butler will challenge DePaul on Tuesday in Chicago.

Xavier Plays An Familiar Foe After First Loss

The Xavier Musketeers try to get back on track against a more traditional rival, the Butler Bulldogs.

The two teams competed at the top of the ancient, Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizen), the Atlantic 10 and now the Big East.

Xavier (6)  has been in nine of the last 10 NCAA tournaments.  Butler (9) made the NCAA Championship Game in both 2010 and 2011, losing to Dukie and Connecticut in the final.

Xavier lost its last game on Thursday on the road at Villanova 95-64 to suffer its first loss of the season after 12 wins.  Butler is 11-2 with losses to Miami of Florida and Providence 81-73 in its Big East opener.

Xavier has a 35-18 lead in the all-time series.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Xavier Declaws Tigers To Post Best Start In School History

Xavier has won its first 11 games for the first time in school history with a 85-61 caging of the Auburn Tigers 5-3.

The Musketeers big men, which added a third dimension with 6'10" sophomore Sean O'Mara, had its way with Auburn.

Jalen Reynolds  led the Musketeers with 18 points while grabbing six rebounds. James Farr had 12 points and tied the Tigers Cinmeon Bowers with a game-high 11 rebounds.  O'Mara played a season-high 14 minutes and contributed a career-high 10 points and six rebounds.

"If Jalen keeps improving with Farr playing at that level, we will continue to have a good season," Xavier coach Chris Mack said.  "Sean O'Mara played the best game he's played in a Xavier uniform and it was against a good team, not a Division III team.  This was a good win for our program.  Auburn is a better team than they were last year."

Auburn handed Xavier a 89-88 double overtime loss almost a year to the day ago in Auburn, Alabama. The Tigers were 20-22 in coach Bruce Pearl's first year as coach.  This season the Tigers have proven to be a high scoring unit with junior Kareem Canty leading the pride with a 19.3 points-per-game average.

Xavier jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead off 3-pointers by Remy Abell (5 points) and Trevon Bluiett (13 points).  Reynolds added a shot from the inside.  Xavier extended the lead to 16 points but Auburn clawed to within nine at the break.

"You can't start out slow against a great team like Xavier," said Canty, who scored 25 points to lead all scorers. "We got their lead down to nine but we never got the momentum back."

Blueitt scored on a layup to open the second half and Xavier cruised from there. Freshman Edmond Sumner scored 13 points and pulled in a season-high six rebounds.

The Tigers never got to within nine points again.

Bowers had 12 points and T.J. Dunans had 10 for the Tigers.

Xavier has held every opponent to under 50 percent shooting on the year with the Tigers managing 40 percent from the field.

"Our defense is so much better than last year. It's not even in the same stratosphere. To hold a team that's averaging 87 points a game to 61 is a good job," Mack said.

The Musketeers now have the best start in school history.  They are ranked one in the RPI rating ahead of Duke and 10th in the Associated Press poll. The winning streak is the longest since they won 16 straight games in the 2002-03 season.

"We have who want to be coached and stick together," Mack said.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Toddfather Traded To White Sox In A Deal The Reds Couldn't Refuse

Todd Frazier is a fan favorite who had a tremendous first half last year.

The Reds are rebuilding and Frazier was too tempting for the White Sox to pass up.  Frazier will improve them defensively.

The Reds are also in discussion with the Washington Nationals to trade Brandon Phillips, leaving Zack Cozart and Joey Votto as the only hold overs in the infield.  The Reds have built a stable of young pitching prospects.  They now need to replace at least one infield spot if they can't move Phillips.

Eugenio Suarez is penciled in to take over thirdbase for Frazier.

The Reds got three young players from the Dodgers while the Dodgers got three young players from the White Sox, including Frankie Montas, who can throw 100 mph and was in Cincinnati to play in the Future's Game in July.

The Reds get IF Jose Peraza, OF Scott Schebler and IF Brandon Dixon.

Peraza is a 21-year old secondbaseman and centerfielder from Barinas, Venezuela.  He was signed by the Atlanta Braves as an amateur free agent in 2010.  He was involved in a three-way trade between the Braves, Dodgers and Miami Marlins.  The Dodgers got Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos in the deal and the Dodgers parted with Paco Rodriguez and Hector Olivera and three minor leaguers.
Order Amazon at right

Peraza made his Major League debut with the Dodgers on August 10. He had four hits in 22 at bats in seven games for the Dodgers.  The 6' 180 lb righthanded batter hit .293 for Gwinnett and Oklahoma City with four home runs, eight triples and 13 doubles.  Peraza stole 33 bases in 40 attempts.

Scott Schebler is a 25-year old lefthanded batting corner outfielder from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  The Dodgers drafted him in the 26th round of the 2010 draft.  He will compete with Adam Duvall, Yorman Rodriguez, Juan Duran, Jake Cavem Kyle Waldrop and Tyler Holt for the leftfield position assuming Jay Bruce is not traded.

Schebler made his Major League debut on June 5 against St. Louis.  He hit .250 with three home runs in 36 at bats in 19 games with the Dodgers.  He struck out 13 times and walked three times.  Schebler stole two bases in three attempts.

He hit 27 home runs for High A Rancho Cucamonga in 2013 and 28 at Double A Chattanooga in 2014 and played in the prestigious Arizona Fall League in 2014  Last year at Oklahoma City, Schebler hit .241 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 121 games. He walked 40 times and struck out 93 times in 121 games with an on-base-percentage of .322 and slugging percentage of .410 and stole 15 bases in 17 attempts.

Brandon Dixon is 23 years old from Murrieta, California.  The righthanded batter played secondbase, thirdbase and the outfield as the Dodgers third round pick in the 2013 draft out of the University of Arizona..

Dixon played in the Arizona Fall League this past winter as one of the Dodgers' top prospects.  He hit .295 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 16 games.  Dixon started the 2015 season at High A Rancho Cucamonga and then promoted to Double A Tulsa.  Combined, Dixon was a .263 hitter with a .318 on-base-percentage and a .508 slugging percentage.  He hit 19 home runs, five triples and 25 doubles, drove in 68 runs and stole 26 bases in 32 attempts. Dixon struck out 144 times and walked 28 times.

At 6'2" and 215 lbs, Dixon looks like a thirdbaseman, who can develop into a power hitter with speed.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Xavier Holds On To Take Cincinnati In the Crosstown Shootout

Xavier built a 16 point halftime lead but had to withstand a fierce Cincinnati run to take its third straight Crosstown Shootout 65-55.

Myles Davis buried a 3-point shot at the first half buzzer to extend its lead to 16 at 42-26.  Cincinnati scored the first 10 points of the second half to make it a hard fough victory.

"It's a game of runs," said Remy Able, who scored nine points. "We knew Cincinnati would make a run."

Cincinnati (8-2) closed to within five points at 52-47 at the midpoint of the second half in a game they never led.  Xavier (10-0) scored the first five points of the game and led 10-1 after the first five minutes.

"We were more aggressive and didn't turn the ball over to start the second half," Cincinnati guard Shaq Thomas.  "They were up 20-12 in rebounding in the first half. We turned that around in the second half."

Trevon Bluiett came into the game averaging 15.9 points but only scored three in the game.  The Bearcats lost control of the game with 16 turnovers.

"They beat us from the outside in the first half and the inside in the second half," Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. "You can't beat a real team by turning the ball over 16 times and beat a real team. Xavier is a real team. The proof is that we held their best scorer to three points.  We hung together and played better in the second half."

Farad Cobb hit two 3-point shots to start the scoring in the second half. Shaq Thomas added a pair of layups before Edmond Sumner broke the string with a jumper.

"That was as much of an uncomfortable 16-point leads I've ever had," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "Their defense in the second half stymied us and stole our confidence.  We felt rebounding and taking care of the basketball would be the key to winning. Our rebounding lead was obliterated but we didn't turn the ball over much. That's what saved us."

Mack has now won six of the seven meetings between the two teams against his child hood neighbor Cronin.

Cronin downplayed the importance of the rivalry game.

"We don't care about all that stuff. The days of Xavier at the Cincinnati Gardens and being the underdog has past.  That ship has sailed. They have a nice new arena and plenty of support now.  Chris Mack is one of the best coaches in the country and Xavier kept him from taking a Pac 12 job."

Mack was exhausted after the game and didn't show a lot of excitement.

"They are the most physical team inside we'll play all year," Mack said. "This game is a war. I don't know how our players feel but I'm limping around. I'm sweating. I feel like Pete Gillen. I have so much respect for what Mick has done over there. They are physical and tough."

Myles Davis led all scorers with 17 points. Edmond Sumner scored 11 and made a highlight reel dunk in the second half.  Jalen Reynolds was challenged inside by Octavius Ellis.  Reynolds had just two points and one rebound at halftime.  He scored six points and pulled down five rebounds in an eight minute stretch after Cincinnati got within five points. Trevon Bluiet didn't score much but along with Jamie Farr and Reynolds had six rebound.  Farr added nine points.

Cincinnati put four players in double figures. Ellis led the team with 13 points. Thomas and Cobb had 11. Troy Caupain added 10.  Gary Clark and Ellis did the heavy lifting on the glass with seven and six rebounds respectively.

Cincinnati hosts Norfolk State on Tuesday night.  Xavier rests a week before hosting Auburn at noon on Saturday.

The women's Crosstown Shootout will be held at 2:00pm Sunday.

Hometown Boys Meet In Crosstown Shootout

The University of Cincinnati and Xavier University are three miles apart.

Xavier's coach Chris Mack, 44, and Cincinnati's coach Mick Cronin, 42, grew up closer than that.

Cronin's childhood home was in Groesbeck down the street from St. Ann's elementary school.  Mack's is less than two miles away near St. Margaret Mary on Galbraith Road in North College Hill.  The went to different high schools but both are on North Bend Road.  Mack went to St. Xavier. Cronin to LaSalle.

Mack played basketball at the Northside KofC with Cronin's older brother Danny.

Today, the two lifelong neighbors bring their college alma mater's to the Cintas Center to renew a rivalry that is 82 games old.  Both are ranked UC (8-1) is ranked 23rd in the Associated Press poll and Xavier (9-0) is ranked 12th. UC holds a 49-33 advantage but Xavier has won the last two and six of the last eight.

Mack is 5-1 against Cronin which is his career mark.  Cronin is 3-6 against Xavier in his career.

The last time the two teams met at the Cintas Center it ended in an ugly fight.  This year will be hard fought but far more civil.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Xavier Crushes Wright State Now Prepare For Cincinnati

The Xavier Musketeers buried their neighbors from the north, the Wright State Raiders 90-55.

The 12th ranked Musketeers prepped for the crosstown shootout on Saturday with a solid game offensively and defensively to earn its ninth straight win to open the season.

Trevon Bluiett led all scorers and rebounders with 22 points and 11 rebounds.  His supporting cast of Myles Davis 13 points, J.P. Macura 12 points and Jalen Reynolds 10 provided the bulk of the offense.

Wright State came into the game fifth in the nation in 3-point shooting but made just five of 27 for a 18.5 percent.  Xavier's defense caused some of them but the Raiders missed shots they normally make.

"We missed some shots we usually make," Wright State coach Billy Donlon said.. "Xavier caused a lot of problems.  I credit them and Chris (coach Mack).  They play like the score is nothing to nothing. Chris doesn't get enough credit nationally.  They have been up by 30 points on their last four opponents.  We just have to play harder and get better."

Grant Benzinger, the Raiders sophomore guard out of Moeller High School, had a nightmare game.  He looked forward to playing his first college game in his backyard but ha picked up four fouls in the first 12 and a half minutes.

'It was tough," said Benzinger, who is the son of the former Cincinnati Reds firstbaseman. "We didn't want it to go that way. They played a great game. They hit some shots. I was really looking forward to coming back here. It didn't go like I envisioned."

Benzinger compared Xavier favorably to Kentucky.  The Raiders dropped a 79-63 decision at Rupp Arena on November 20

"I had a night like that last year at Bowling Green but I was a freshman," Benzinger said. "I have to do a better job. I want a better overall game. I felt good making those shots but then I picked up that fifth foul and it was like it didn't happen. We are a better team than this. We didn't perform. We let our offense affect our defense."

Benzinger finished the game with six points.  Michael Karena, who fouled out early, led Wright State with 10 points.

Xavier's defense kept the Raiders from getting into a groove.

"We played very well," Mack said.  "We are much better defensively this year.  Our zone helps us out. I like to call it our curveball.  There are going to be nights when we can't make a basket but defense will keep us in those games. I think our guys are beginning to realize that.  Tonight was a good example.  We missed a lot of shots early but offensive rebounds saved us.  We didn't let them score."

"Some teams lift weights," Donlon said.  "Xavier eats them."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Northern Kentucky Hangs Tough With Xavier

A new back yard rivalry developed at the Cintas Center at Xavier University.

After dismantling #24 Michigan on Saturday on the road, Xavier (4-0) was left gripping a hard fought 78-66 win over the Northern Kentucky Norse (1-3) in their first game as a member of the Top 25 (23).

It was the first time that the two schools played since the 1978-79 season   Xavier is now 4-2 in the series.

Xavier had six players in double figures.  Trevon Bluiett scored 14 points and 16 rebounds. James Farr scored 13. Edmond Sumner, Remy Abell and Myles Davis had 12 each. Jalen Rose scored 11.

Tyler White led the Norse with 25 points. Lavone Holland chipped in with 11, while leading NKU with eight rebounds.

Xavier led by nine at halftime and never really pulled away from NKU, a member of the Horizen Conference, who is not yet eligible for the NCAA tournament.

"We were not ready to play," Myles Davis said. "We are more talented than they are.  That's why we won the game. We didn't come to play. NKU did."

Xavier coach Chris Mack had more to say.

"I was disappointed in the whole game. All 40 minutes," Mack said.  "It wasn't about X's and O's. I'm not trying to reflect the game. I'm responsible for the ship and our ship sucked tonight. We sucked. It was ridiculous to come out and play like this."

After a big win in Ann Arbor the Musketeers were ranked for the first time this season but Mack was not impressed.

'It's garbage," Mack said. "That doesn't mean a thing until you go out on the court and show who you are. I give NKU a lot of credit.  They came to play. We didn't.  We talked about the Michigan game for four days going into it.  I don't understand how you don't come to play every day."

The underdog Norse, who dropped a 64-56 decision to Morehead State had a different perspective.

"I think our young men competed tonight," NKU coach John Brannen said. "We used our game plan and competed.  We tried to guard them close without fouling but we didn't quite do that."

NKU committed 27 fouls and put the Musketeers on the foul line 34 times.  The Xavier had one more field goal 23-22.  NKU had nine 3-pointers to Xavier's six but the 12 point margin was achieved at the foul line. Xavier made 26 free throws and NKU made 13.

Sophomore guard Holland from Louisville Ballard High School was not heavily recruited. NKU was his only option.  He will be a junior when the team becomes ready for the NCAA.

""It was fun to go out and implement our game plan with a top 25 team. They are really good. It feels good to compete against them," Holland said.

He is not ready to think about NCAA tournaments down the road.

"I'm  more looking forward to the next two days of practice and getting to work. We got a lot of good experience out of this game," Holland said."