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Chris Mack on facing Sean Miller in the Sweet 16: ‘It’s never easy to play against your mentor’

Xavier head coach Chris Mack is excited to have his school back in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament for the 3rd time in his six seasons. However, he’s not excited to be facing his former boss, Sean Miller. Mack, worked as an assistant under Arizona’s Miller on the Musketeers staff, and his team will square off Thursday night against the Wildcats in Los Angeles.

“It’s really tough,” Mack told The Jim Rome Show. “Obviously we’re excited to be on the stage that we are, it’s been well earned, our guys have done a great job over the last month a half of the season of continuing to get better but it’s never easy to play against your mentor.”

Mack said he developed a strong bond with Miller on and off the court during their time together and so did some of their current staff members and families.

“A guy that’s been really good to me and my family, we spent a lot of time recruiting together, coaching together, he’s taught me an awful lot,” Mack said of Miller’s guidance. “And so even though our teams, our players won’t have connections to their players and vice versa it’s going to be hard just from a personal standpoint because there’s so many people on my staff and Sean’s staff and addition to our families, that you hate to be put in this position, but it is what it is.”

Mack said no matter the outcome of the game, his relationship with Miller won’t change, despite the stakes.

“I’m one of those guys that I won’t have a hard time,” Mack said of after the game. “Sean’s my friend first and foremost. We’re both going to have our teams as well prepared as we possibly can, we’re going to play the game. The game has obviously great stakes involved but when the games done he’s still going to be my friend, the guy that I lean on for advice from time to time.”

As far as the games goes, Mack said they’ve got a tall task in front of them if they’re to upset one of the most talented teams in the country.

“It starts on the glass. Their size and athleticism is tremendous, it’s more than anything we’ve faced all year. It can rival Kentucky when you look at their frontcourt,” said Mack. “But we’re going to have to keep them off the glass. Certainly we’re going to have to contest shots and hope they shoot a lower percentage than normal, but if they get second and third ones were going to have no chance. Whether it’s’ (Kaleb) Tarczewski, whether it’s Brandon Ashley, you name it, you go down the line, their wings (Rondae) Hollis-Jefferson, Stanley Johnson, they’re terrific athletes they’ve got a hunger about the basketball we have to get them off the glass in order to compete.”

  • Chris Mack
  • Mar 23rd 2015

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