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Xavier coach knows UGA star well.


SacFalcFan
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It was approaching midnight Sunday night but the Xavier basketball offices were humming with activity at Cintas Center.

Head coach Sean Miller was in his office with his father, John, watching game films of Georgia, the team No. 3 seed Xavier (27-6) will play Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Washington.

Assistant coach Chris Mack huddled in his office with tapes and scouting reports for Purdue and Baylor, potential second-round opponents.

On the other side of Mack s office wall, assistants James Whitford and Emanuel Richardson were fast-forwarding, rewinding and pausing their way through a recent Georgia-Kentucky game, breaking down Georgia s plays and tendencies.

Suddenly, Miller walked into the room, sporting a gregarious smile.

I want a New York City point guard, he said to Richardson and Whitford. I m tired of watching them.

Miller, of course, had been watching Georgia s Sundiata Gaines, a senior point guard from New York City whose rough-and-tumble yet talented style led the Bulldogs (17-16) to an improbable Southeastern Conference Tournament championship and a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Richardson knew with intimate detail the talent that had caught Miller s attention.

The XU assistant didn t need any video tapes to describe how in four years at Georgia, Gaines matured from a score-at-all-costs point guard into a reliable assist distributor who retained a lethal scoring touch.

In fact, when he first saw Georgia s name appear next to Xavier s during the NCAA Tournament selection show Sunday, Richardson knew exactly how fierce of a backcourt matchup Gaines would create for Xavier s top defender, Stanley Burrell. Richardson knew because that s how he coached Gaines to play.

He s been a scorer since I first knew him at 13 years old, Richardson said. He was always bigger and stronger than everyone, and he had a real knack for scoring. If you said he couldn t shoot, he got to the basket, finished left handed or right handed. Just a bull.

Before joining Xavier s staff in August, Richardson coached and managed the New York Gauchos summer basketball program where he made himself into a self-described big-brother figure to players such as Gaines, Ronald Ramon (now at Pittsburgh) and Russell Robinson (now at Kansas).

Gaines was the scorer, the kid who Richardson once removed from a game after Gaines had scored 65 points.

Why d you take me out, I could ve gotten 70? Gaines said, according to Richardson.

And he could have, Richardson said. He just had to score the ball.

Today, Gaines is the leader, the soul of a Georgia team that withered for much of the season until the SEC Tournament began last week and the Bulldogs persevered four times twice on Saturday in four days.

On senior day, March 8, Gaines offered credit to Georgia s coaching staff, including embattled head coach Dennis Felton, for developing the guard s talents beyond the scoring column.

Dennis thanked the seniors, assistant coach Pete Hermann said, and Sundiata said, I d like to thank the coaches also.

Gaines comes into Thursday s game against Xavier with team-high averages of 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. His stocky nature at 6 feet 1, 205 pounds, creates matchup problems for Xavier because Gaines is so physically strong, a trait that permeates throughout Georgia s lineup.

Burrell, the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year, has successfully guarded nationally recognized guards such as Chris Lofton of Tennessee and Sean Singletary of Virginia. Gaines might be one of Burrell s most unique assignments.

I don t know if he s defended a guard as physical as Gaines and that s going to be a challenge for Stanley, Miller said.

It s a challenge that Richardson will be rooting for Burrell to win. It is a strange feeling, Richardson said, preparing to defeat Gaines, a player he built into a college prospect through four years, from age 13 to 17.

I always told him I d be his coach forever, that I d always be there for him, Richardson said. But not this game. I want him to play well. But I want us to win.

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SacFalcFan (3/19/2008)
bossFALCON (3/18/2008)
good read. man i hope UGA pulls this off.

You know right now I am happy no matter what. They won the SEC Tournament. If they can win a few games that would be terrific. However I don't expect them to.

Say they won't win, don't break the tradition that got them this far.
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Ethanga62890 (3/19/2008)
SacFalcFan (3/19/2008)
bossFALCON (3/18/2008)
good read. man i hope UGA pulls this off.

You know right now I am happy no matter what. They won the SEC Tournament. If they can win a few games that would be terrific. However I don't expect them to.

Say they won't win, don't break the tradition that got them this far.

IMO the Dawgs won't win anymore games this year. Their run is over unfortunately.

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SacFalcFan (3/19/2008)
Ethanga62890 (3/19/2008)
SacFalcFan (3/19/2008)
bossFALCON (3/18/2008)
good read. man i hope UGA pulls this off.

You know right now I am happy no matter what. They won the SEC Tournament. If they can win a few games that would be terrific. However I don't expect them to.

Say they won't win, don't break the tradition that got them this far.

IMO the Dawgs won't win anymore games this year. Their run is over unfortunately.

if we lose to xavier i'll be ok. at least we won the SEC Championship!

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bossFALCON (3/19/2008)
SacFalcFan (3/19/2008)
Ethanga62890 (3/19/2008)
SacFalcFan (3/19/2008)
bossFALCON (3/18/2008)
good read. man i hope UGA pulls this off.

You know right now I am happy no matter what. They won the SEC Tournament. If they can win a few games that would be terrific. However I don't expect them to.

Say they won't win, don't break the tradition that got them this far.

IMO the Dawgs won't win anymore games this year. Their run is over unfortunately.

if we lose to xavier i'll be ok. at least we won the SEC Championship!

I feel the same way.. I really enjoyed this weekend..

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