By: Gus Raftery ~Manna Man~
For the first time since 2011, Xavier basketball reached the coveted fourth round of the NCAA tournament, a finish that many are crediting to the team’s chemistry, strong defensive performances and exceptional ability to keep their pants on throughout the tournament.
“We’re hurting right now, but I was really proud of the way that the guys kept their shorts around their waists and their minds focused at the end of the season,” head coach Chris Mack said after the Musketeers’ painful 83-59 loss to eventual national runner-up Gonzaga Bulldogs on March 25.
“The whole time, through injury, a six loss streak in February and some tough media scrutiny, I never saw a single one of our guys drop his trousers in public or even in the locker room. I think it’s what allowed us to get this far.”
The Musketeers were the last remaining double digit seed in the tournament and sealed a trip to the Elite Eight with a signature victory over second-seeded Arizona, all without losing their drawers even once.
“It wasn’t easy. I’ll say that for sure,” junior shooting guard J.P. Macura said after the team’s upset of one of the nation’s top ranked teams, and players, in Wildcats sophomore Allonzo Trier.
The Musketeers kept the game tight and their shorts even tighter for much of the 40-minute contest, but late in the second half, the Wildcats began to pull away.
Macura saw his team getting discouraged and their Nike Elite shorts getting loose for a moment, but the team leader didn’t allow his teammates to mail it in.
“The whole game was a fight, man. A fight with them, and definitely a fight with my waistband. But as the game was winding down and we started to get down, I could see a few guys getting down. I just said, ‘Hey. It’s not gonna be easy, but let’s get back in this thing!’ It was an intense moment,” Macura recalled.
“I could see Allonzo Trier about to lose his shorts. Not a lot of people could see that, but I could. I’d seen him at the hotel bar the night before, and the guy wasn’t even wearing a belt. When I saw that, I knew we’d be able to get him.”
As the game’s final moments wore on, Macura was able to loosen Trier’s pants and slip them around his ankles without being called for a foul. This move proved crucial and propelled the Muskies to another top-eight finish in the NCAA tournament.
Unfortunately for the Musketeers, their run of strong pants could not continue against Gonzaga, as their pants fell to their ankles worse than they had all season.