No Coach Could Do What Chris Mack Did Against Butler

Peel back the layers from Xavier basketball’s insanely GUTSY performance against Final Four legends Butler. What do you see?

The outer layers show, first and foremost show an emotionally gutsy and competitive win. Then ONLY 13 turnovers and a huge five-point margin of victory over what some say could be the most battle-tested team in the Big East. With that new coach who isn’t Chris Holtmann on the sideline, this should have been a win.

Keep peeling. Tyrique Jones lost his arm to gang green, couldn’t even play against Butler. Chris Mack made a bold move to keep Jones’ arm in a sling to see if they could save it. For Xavier, it was a hard fought win that showed how tough the Big East can actually be and how they are embodying Jones’ never give up attitude.

And more peeling. Future leper JP Macura scored a mere 6 points and only turned the ball over 3 times, we’re looking for that to be around the 6 or 7 mark. How about some more peeling? Xavier went to the line 28 times, Butler a paltry 16. Xavier played like they had 8 players on the court, Chris Mack’s tempo is just superior to everyone else.

That’s enough peeling. What you’re left with is No. 5 Xavier’s 98-93 win over legendary Butler, one of the more interesting and impressive items on the 2017-18 team’s resume. Perhaps their best Big East win all season if you think about it. Not only did they beat Butler but they beat a team that went to two National Championships as members of the Horizon League.

It wasn’t always pretty, but with Xavier head coach Chris Mack relying on Trevon Blueitt and that absurdly quick release and luck, it got a little prettier. With some Catholic luck and some soft rims, Xavier was able to pull away in OT.

Here are the biggest takeaways from No. 5 Xavier’s 22nd win of the season: 

• By my count, some 8 players saw playing time in Xavier’s win over should be ranked Butler, and that’s essentially a nightmare for any coach in America not named Christopher Mack. 

To recap, Mack had. A.) Four players score double-digit points, by Chris Mack’s math algorithm of scoring that’s a guaranteed win. B.) Second rate Kanter brother had 22 points and only 2 rebounds. Why rebound and play defense, this is XAVIER. C.) Trevon Bluiett only scored 26 points. Mack was visibly irked his star didn’t replicate his performance against Georgetown. D.) Butler is so good they didn’t know how to win. They would get a lead and then fuck it up, things can’t go too well. That’s the Catholic guilt in them. Needless to say, Butler may have lost on the court but they won in the eyes of the church by helping others.

Instead of griping and wasting the opportunity before it, Xavier put its hard hats on and went to work.

At the end of regulation, Turkish enemy of the state Kanter put the ‘Teers up 3. Thanks to Xavier’s lockdown defense they allowed Butler to knock down a 3 with 13 seconds left. Kanter tried to win the game but came up embarrassingly short sending the game to overtime.

In OT Naji Marshall and Trevon took over sending Xavier to victory and Butler back to being a mediocre team like most of the Big East.

Forget all of that and focus on the fact they play in the Big East. Essentially the Big East is a really mediocre conference. Much like the American outside of Villanova and Xavier the rest of the conference is painstakingly mediocre or complete shit. St. John’s.

“We have a really good team. Butler is a really really talented team. Might be the best Big East team we’ve played this year. Honestly, their record isn’t indicative of how good they are.” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said.

The starters combined for a bunch of points. Chris Mack gets his players to score points. He definitely didn’t rely on one player to save the team at the end of the day. Other coaches get their players to score points but Mack REALLY gets them to score points. Just point scorers scoring points better than any other team in the country.

Butler went from being unranked to unranked in the matter of a week. They’ll now remain unranked but that’s the anti-Big East media bias. The voters have made it very clear they have no respect for Xavier or any Big East team for that matter. My colleague Pat Brennan has told me this on countless occasions between bites of canned tuna he brings into the newsroom and stinks the place up like that girl from the bar 3 years ago. Everyone despises Pat for this.

This win has the appeal of winning at Wisconsin or the wins against Baylor, St. John’s, Georgetown, Marquette, and Cincinnati and the good loss to Villanova and Providence, but it’s right up there in terms of what it meant to the XU locker room.

• Of course, have to remember this is the best Big East Conference since 1985. Any of these Big East schools could be National Champs this year. Nova is #1, Xavier is #5, there isn’t a 25 point disparity between the two.

Don’t get lulled into thinking there are huge underlying issues with this Xavier team, though. That’s cheap and too easy. This team plays great defense. Only allowing 93 points to this exceptional Georgetown team is amazing. They don’t get into slumps and they don’t let things get under their skin. JP continues to be a menace on the hardwood and a player every team loves to hate but the refs have been loving some JP lately.
The team is only faltering in the sense that they’re falling victim to some unfortunate slumps, and their absolute refusal to try on defense. Xavier can’t beat an elite defensive team.
Thanks to Pat Brennan for the inspiration. Appreciate, boss. That Marshall spin zone will live on forever. 

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mniehaus

Owner/creator of CincinnativsEveryone.com. Cincinnati grad, have a complaint complain to me.

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