Gold Nuggets' layoff ends with five games in seven days
December 27, 2009
NEW ORLEANS — It's not just a return to work for the Xavier University of Louisiana women's basketball team this week — it's a marathon.
The Gold Nuggets (6-1) will end a 30-day layoff with five games in seven days, starting with a trip to Irvine, Calif., for the Surf City Classic at Concordia University.
Xavier will play three games in Irvine: 6 p.m. PST Monday (8 p.m. New Orleans time) against Concordia (6-2), 4 p.m. PST Tuesday against Daemen (5-6) and 2 p.m. PST Wednesday against Metro State (6-4).
The Nuggets will fly home on New Year's Eve and then prepare for games at The Barn on consecutive days against NAIA powers Lindsey Wilson (8-3) at 4 p.m. Saturday and Campbellsville (11-1) at 1 p.m. next Sunday.
"It'll be an interesting week for our team," Xavier Coach Bo Browder said. "The schedule is comparable to a run to the finals at the (NAIA) national tournament. But the big differences are that we haven't played in a month, and there's a long flight home in the middle of the week.
"The bottom line is that we need to find the momentum we had in November pretty quickly, because I expect a good test from all five of these teams."
Xavier was 6-0 for the first time since 1981-82 before losing 69-66 to Langston on Nov. 27 in the Xavier Classic. That was the last time the Nuggets played.
"That Langston game stung pretty good," Browder said. "We had a couple of chances at the end to win it. It would've been nice to be 7-and-0. That would've been a nice Christmas present.
"But we'll take 6-and-1. We've played pretty well, and we've shot the ball extremely well. But there's a lot more basketball to be played, and we need to continue to get better."
The Nuggets are in the top 10 of eight team statistical categories in NAIA Division I, and sophomore Marchelle Jones is third with 3.9 steals per game. It's been another share-the-load season for Xavier, with 10 players averaging 15-24 minutes per game and nine averaging 5.9-11.3 points. Sophomore guard/forward Jazmoné Kelly is the Nuggets' only double-figure scorer.
The trip to southern California is the Nuggets' latest to a "fun destination," as Browder calls it. The past five seasons the XU women traveled to Florida (twice), Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Mexico and South Padre Island in Texas.
"Hopefully our ladies will enjoy the scenery and the weather but also focus on our business on the court," Browder said. "Our teams in the past usually did a good job of mixing business with pleasure, and I expect this team to do the same."
Xavier's next victory will be Browder's 250th as coach of the Nuggets. Browder, in his 11th season at Xavier, is 249-90 and the winningest coach in the program's history.