By: Paul Fritschner ~Staff Writer~
Exhibition basketball games at the collegiate level alleviate the pain college basketball fans have felt since the final buzzer sounded in Indianapolis in April. After a long, drawn-out preseason of practicing, exhibitions break up the monotony and get the teams ready for regular-season action. The contests also give fans a first look at their teams against other schools, along with providing the coaches an opportunity to see what they need to tune up before the first one that counts.
The men’s basketball team only scheduled one exhibition game this year against Division II Northwood. You may remember the Timberwolves because they were also an exhibition opponent for the Musketeers last season. A decent crowd, along with a packed student section, was on hand to take in the game during Xavier’s Reunion Weekend.
One question was answered before the tip-off when redshirt freshman Edmund Sumner got the start over sophomore Larry Austin Jr. There has been much discussion as to which of the two will become the primary ball handler to fill the shoes of graduated senior Dee Davis. Throughout the game, the two shared time, with Sumner showing his explosiveness while finishing with 17 points in 16 minutes. He was efficient, scoring those points on just 5-9 shooting with 6-7 free throws made. Austin Jr. contributed 12 points on 5-5 shooting while going 2-3 at the line.
“I don’t recall one time when I saw Edmund Sumner or Larry Austin walk the ball to the timeline,” radio play-by-play commentator Joe Sunderman said in a post-game interview. This was a reference to Dee Davis’s slower, calmer style of play from last season and how Sunderman sees it changing this year. Speaking of free throws, that was a sore spot for the Musketeers, as they missed 14 of their 47 free throws, good for only 70.2 percent.
The game seemed to lack consistency as it dragged on due to the incredible amount of fouls called on both teams. There was a grand total of 69 fouls called, a combination of new rules that players are still adjusting to as well as the nature of this particular game.
“I thought it was a choppy game,” said head coach Chris Mack in his post-game press conference. The first game of the regular season is this Friday night at 7 p.m. in Cintas Center against a local rival, the Miami Redhawks. The Musketeers will face the Missouri Tigers at 7 p.m. at home on Nov. 17.