Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 2/28/12
Kenny Frease's much-maligned career at Xavier is nearing its end. The 7-foot senior center would prefer it conclude in the NCAA Tournament and not sooner. On Feb. 25, Frease played to his enormous potential in a 65-57 victory over Richmond that helped keep the Musketeers on the precarious NCAA Tournament bubble. Frease had a season-high 19 points and 14 rebounds, seven of which were offensive boards. "This was probably the best game of his senior year," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "He did a great job of demanding the basketball. I thought our guards were looking for Kenny, and that was great to see. It was great to see him man the middle and be the guy we need." It's a gross understatement to say that Frease's senior year has been a disappointment. Like many players at this level, Frease appeared to figure it out as a junior. He entered last season in the best shape of his career, got his off-court activities in order, then went on to average 11.7 points and 7.1 rebounds while earning All-Atlantic 10 Conference honorable mention. That came after he averaged around five points and four rebounds his first two seasons. But Frease inexplicably regressed this year. He was suspended on the first day of preseason practice for, as Mack put it, "Not handling his daily responsibilities on and off the playing floor." Frease was reinstated nine days later. The reaction of the 10,250 fans at Cintas Center on Feb. 25 when Frease exited the game was in stark contrast to the gasps and boos directed toward him for much of this season. Mack offered a fist pump from the bench, and Frease's teammates praised his effort following the game. Frease was averaging nine points and six rebounds but also had 56 turnovers through Feb. 26, an astounding number for a big man. There are times when the speed of the game eludes him, and he's been accused of playing much smaller than his 7-foot, 275-pound frame. However, more performances similar to the one against Richmond could be what Xavier needs to ensure itself of a seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. "I want to go out with my team on top," Frease said. "There's a lot more we can do this season. I have to keep being aggressive as I was today. I have to figure out, whatever it is, that makes me play like this." NOTES, QUOTESNew dad is a key reserve --Junior F Jeff Robinson has plenty to keep him occupied this season: classes, helping lead the Musketeers back to the NCAA Tournament, plus fatherhood and a recent engagement. Robinson, who averages 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game this season, celebrated the birth of his son, Levin, in September, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer report. He and his girlfriend got engaged last month. --Xavier had a 41-22 rebounding advantage in the Feb. 25 win over Richmond, the second-highest total of the season for the Musketeers. Xavier had 20 offensive rebounds against the Spiders. --Senior G Tu Holloway has moved into 11th place on Xavier's all-time career scoring list. He entered the final week of the regular season with 1,668 points, just 22 behind Nick Daniels (1975-79) for 10th place all-time. BY THE NUMBERS: .399 -- Although it hasn't seemed like it at times this season, Xavier ranked second in the Atlantic 10 Conference in field-goal percentage defense at .399 through Feb. 26. The Musketeers ranked third in 3-point defense at .311. QUOTE TO NOTE: "It felt good watching Kenny do what I know he can do every night. I was proud of him." -- Xavier F Andre Walker, on C Kenny Frease's season-best performance Feb. 25. STRATEGY AND PERSONNELTHIS WEEK'S GAMES:--at Saint Louis, Feb. 28KEY MATCHUPS: The last time these teams met on Jan. 25, the Billikens ended Xavier's Atlantic 10 Conference record 43-game home league winning streak. The Musketeers need to do a better job defending the perimeter. SLU's Rob Loe scored 14 points in the first meeting, hitting three 3-pointers, and Cody Ellis added 11 points, going 3-for-6 from 3-point range. --vs. Charlotte, March 3KEY MATCHUPS: Xavier edged Charlotte 74-70 on Jan. 28. The game wouldn't have been that close had the 49ers' Javarris Barnett not had the game of his life, scoring 27 points and going 7-for-8 from 3-point range. The Musketeers cannot allow a similar performance from Barnett in the regular-season finale at Cintas Center. FUTURES MARKET: Dezmine Well's alley-oop dunk on Nov. 11 against Morgan State has been nominated for Dunk of the Year, an award sponsored by sports and entertainment marketing firm Intersport. While the freshman forward has gained notoriety for his high-flying dunks, Wells is quickly evolving into a complete player, providing Xavier a glimpse into its future. Wells, who averages 10.1 points, equaled his season-high with 19 points when he shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range in a Feb. 21 loss at UMass. PLAYER NOTES --Junior G Brad Redford, still considered primarily a 3-point specialist, has seen his minutes increase due to his improvement in ball-handling and defense. Redford scored five points in 18 minutes in the Feb. 25 win over Richmond. He hit a fall-away jumper during a key moment in the second half. --Junior F Travis Taylor did not start Feb. 25, ending his streak of two consecutive starts. Coach Chris Mack continues to push for a more consistent effort from Taylor, who had four points in nine minutes off the bench. --Senior C Kenny Frease began the final week of the regular season needing 11 points to become the 50th member of Xavier's 1,000-point club.
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