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Xavier will have Kenny Frease for its non-conference gauntlet

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Kenny Frease

Whatever message Chris Mack intended to send senior Kenny Frease, the Xavier coach apparently didn't think his 7-foot center needed to miss any actual games to receive it.

Mack reinstated Frease on Sunday a mere nine days after indefinitely suspending his top big man for "not fulfilling all the responsibilities of a Xavier Basketball player." The preseason second-team all-Atlantic 10 selection missed the first week of practice and Saturday's Musketeer Madness event.

"I'm sure it was tough," Mack told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Obviously I didn't take it lightly from the beginning. It's one of those things you have to learn the hard way as a player, and hopefully the behavior won't be an issue moving forward. Kenny is setting his sights on the future and being part of the team."

It's difficult to judge whether Xavier's punishment was sufficient since the school has not revealed exactly what Frease did wrong, but it's easy to understand why his reinstatement has sparked some skepticism.

Public embarrassment from the suspension and not being able to participate in Midnight Madness festivities are mild penalties at most. Furthermore, it's no secret Xavier needs its lone true center and top interior scorer in its lineup by mid-November when the Musketeers begin a non-conference gauntlet that includes Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Gonzaga and Purdue, among others.

Nonetheless, those criticizing Xavier would be wise to remember that Mack was under no obligation to publicly discipline Frease at all. The media hadn't reported that Frease had been slacking either in conditioning or in the classroom, yet Mack chose to send a small yet noteworthy public wake-up call to his big man.

If Frease alters his behavior and realizes some of his untapped potential, this suspension will be long forgotten in a few months or hailed as a turning point. If not, perhaps Mack will have to deliver a stiffer midseason penalty.

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