By: Newswire ~Interview~
With the basketball season ready to tip off, the Newswire had the opportunity to sit down with coach Chris Mack to discuss the upcoming season.
NW: You guys have a couple of big games right off of the bat: Missouri, Michigan and the Orlando tournament. Do you think that’s helped keep the guys sharp?
CM: We know what our schedule is, but it’s more important what we do day-in, day-out in practice than looking down the road. I just want to make sure, simple as it sounds, that Monday to Tuesday we improve, Tuesday to Wednesday we improve. I think our team is doing that. You get the true litmus test when you actually play somebody different. We’ll have a public scrimmage, we’ll have a closed scrimmage and we’ll have an exhibition game and that will give us an idea of areas that we have to improve in.
NW: At Big East Media Day last week, you said that you thought this was a more talented team then last year. Do you think that’s a product of the guys playing last year improving over the offseason or the new guys who will play?
CM: I don’t know if I necessarily said we’re more talented this year. I think we’re more experienced. I also think we have a deeper team. The guys 11th and 12th aren’t very far removed from guys seven, eight and nine. That’s what practice is for, to stake your claim. I do think we have more capable players than we’ve had in a while and that’ s a great thing, it breeds competition in practice.
NW: You had a couple of seniors graduate that had been here a long time, been leaders here a long time. Have you seen any players in particular step up and fill that void?
CM: I think we’ve had fairly good leadership, and I think leadership really gets exposed or tested in times of adversity, not necessarily when things are going well in preseason practices. I think Myles Davis is a guy who has played in in a lot of meaningful games. He’s in his fourth year here at Xavier, third year on the floor, but he’s a gamer and he wants to win. His teammates love him, and he’s a guy that I expect to be a vocal leader along with James and Remy. Two seniors and it’s their last go-around. They’re going to provide maybe a different thing then Dee and Matt did, but it’s their last year and usually guys in their last year want to make sure that they go out in a memorable way.
NW: Third year in the Big East, you’ve been around the block and you’ve proven that you’re just as good as the teams that had been there before. Do think it’s helped open doors for the program, especially with recruits?
CM: It’s definitely helped with recruiting. I wouldn’t say that we’ve proven we can beat anybody because we haven’t beaten Villanova. They’re the bar and have been the standard ever since we walked into this league. We need to knock them off. We need to be able to go toe-to-toe with those guys. If we can do that, we can play with anybody in the country.
NW: Do you have any message for the student body and fans?
CM: I think that we have one of the best home court advantages in college basketball. We are, and a lot of people don’t know this, but we have the fifth-best winning percentage in our building out of 351 teams. That’s incredible, and it starts with our students. We put them purposely right in front of the visiting bench. They do a great job. They keep it clean, but they’re vocal and they provide the energy. And we need them, we need them every game. We don’t just need them on games that they feel are quote, unquote big games. Every opponent gives out scholarships and every opponent is going to be prepared. And so the more this place is a hornet’s nest, the better for us.