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March 15, 2017

Chris Mack

Malcolm Bernard

Rashid Gaston

Trevon Bluiett

JP Macura

Orlando, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by J.P., Malcolm, RaShid, and Trevon.

Q. Congrats again on being here, guys. For Malcolm and RaShid, what is the balance like between enjoying yourselves, this being both of your first trip to the NCAA Tournament, versus focusing on the obviously very important task at hand?
RASHID GASTON: Coach Mack has done a great job of letting us know that everything is a business trip, that we came down here to win games. Obviously, being me and Malcolm's first time, it's really exciting. We're trying to soak it all in and take everything in for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. But just to realize that we obviously want to continue playing into March and want to try to continue to win games.

THE MODERATOR: Malcolm, you want to add anything?

MALCOLM BERNARD: No, that's pretty much it.

Q. J.P., you're obviously never lacking for confidence when it comes to shooting. Does a game like Creighton coming into the Tournament help in that respect?
J.P. MACURA: I mean, a little bit. As a shooter, if you come off a night where you're making a lot of threes, it gives you a little confidence coming into the next. But my teammates did a great job of finding me in that game. I'm not going to force anything up. I'm just going to take what's given.

Q. J.P. and Trevon, those two wins at the Big East Tournament, the great upset of Butler, how far did that go in resetting this team and kind of getting the confidence back as you start this sort of second season?
TREVON BLUIETT: Before beating Butler, I think our last three wins were against DePaul. To be able to beat Butler kind of sparked us, gave us a little bit of energy, a little bit of hope because that was a top-20 team, 4 seed in the tournament. We knew, when we got them, we were starting to get our mojo back, everything was starting to come back, and I think that kind of helped us as a lot as far as confidence moving down the road.

J.P. MACURA: We've had a lot of adversity this year, and we went through a tough stretch. I think we all came together and really focused in and really worked hard, and we stringed together a few wins, and I think that's going to help us in the Tournament here.

Q. Piggy-backing off of that rough stretch you guys had, this could be for any of you guys, what was the lowest point during February and before going into the Tournament? What was the lowest point for you guys when you guys were having that rough stretch?
MALCOLM BERNARD: I would say the lowest point definitely had to be losing to Providence. I felt like that was pretty low for us. Because we went into that game thinking we were going to win, and we lost that game. Then, obviously, we lost to Marquette like right after, I believe. So that kind of like made things a lot more worse.

So it would pretty much be that three-game stretch where it was Seton Hall, Providence, Marquette, I would think.

Q. Tre, now that you've had some time to study Maryland on film, what are some areas you think you might be able to exploit them when you guys have the ball?
TREVON BLUIETT: I would probably say just playing the way that we usually play, trying to get it into the box, into the post, you know, kind of letting our big men try to work their way and get them some easy baskets, and then eventually work our way out.

They're a young team, so just trying to kind of beat them with that experience, I would say, honestly.

Q. To any of the guys, during some of the games they've had Coach Mack mic'd up, and his message to you guys in time-outs in the key part of games is very concise. How important is that for you, how he disseminates information in key stretches of games, how you get that and go out and make it happen on the court?
J.P. MACURA: I would say he's very straightforward. If he has a point in the huddle, he's going to get across to you. And just that alone really helps everyone on the team. He's going to let us know what we need to do, and we do it.

MALCOLM BERNARD: I would say the same thing. Also, like Coach Mack is not going to tell us anything that's going to hurt us. So most of the things that he points out in the game is correct.

RASHID GASTON: To piggy-back off these two guys, like they say, Coach Mack is pretty straightforward. All the coaches are with us. They give us the game plan and put the ownership on us and expect us to follow it and go out and execute it.

TREVON BLUIETT: And to reiterate what they all said, he just gives it to us straightforward, but at the same time, as he's telling us, he's building confidence in us, telling us, "We still got this game," no matter what the score. We just focus on that first -- you know, that four-minute war, whichever war we're in. So he gives it to us straight up, and we feed off that.

Q. Did you guys get a visit from Lionel Chalmers during the team meeting last night?

Q. For any of you guys, what is it like when you have a former player that took Xavier to the Elite Eight come visit you and talk to you?
THE MODERATOR: Let's start on the other end. Trevon?

TREVON BLUIETT: It means a lot, especially he was the first to take the school to Elite Eight. His situation was kind of like ours, facing a lot of adversity throughout the season, how the season played out. And just to hear from him and give us a message, and basically the message being so simple as just paying attention to detail, going out and having fun, it means a lot. I think it puts a lot of confidence into us to know that he believes in us and thinks that we can do the same thing he did.

THE MODERATOR: Anyone want to add to that?

RASHID GASTON: For me personally, I felt it to be real inspirational, being a senior. I think he was a senior when he took the team to the Elite Eight as well. Like Trevon said, his team faced also a lot of adversities, like ours did this year. Just to see them coming together, stay locked in, and not really focus on the outside of the locker room and to be able really turn the season around is really good.

He made a good point where he said, "People really only remember how you finish. They don't care what happens during the regular season."

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Good luck. Coach Mack is here.

CHRIS MACK: We're excited to be here in Orlando, Florida. Wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the country. It never gets old being in the NCAA Tournament. I think our players can appreciate that. Every team has to earn it, and all 68 teams did, and we're excited to be a part of it.

Q. Chris, how good does this team feel about itself now after what you guys got done in New York? After you've had time to reflect on what you got done in New York.
CHRIS MACK: We feel good up until a point, and we have to worry about tomorrow. I think this team learned a lot about itself in New York. Amidst a lot of outsiders saying we weren't heading in the right direction. I thought we battled. I thought we played extremely hard. We were a possession away from playing for a Big East Championship.

Ultimately, that doesn't matter tomorrow night at 6:50. Our team recognizes that. But I think our team's grown immensely here over the last couple of weeks.

Q. I asked Mark when he was in here, if he thought that Xavier, if your team looked vastly different last week as opposed to any point prior in the season. And he said that, yes, you guys did look like a different team in New York last week. Is that also your sense that maybe something clicked?
CHRIS MACK: He's probably being nice because I don't know how many games he watched prior to the Big East Tournament.

I think what people inside the program can appreciate is all the adversity that we went through. It's one thing that, when you put a product on the floor, a team on the floor, that's trying to reach its goals, it's very difficult when your best playmaker, your most experienced playmaker, goes out for a season-ending injury. And then on top of it, you lose your leading scorer for a couple of weeks against a very, very tough stretch of teams that we played.

So it's not necessarily the games, but just being able to practice. We didn't have 12, 13 scholarship players. Our walk-ons tried their best, but it's just a different experience in terms of how we usually, normally practice, as you know. But, again, our team, like a lot of teams has come together at the most important time of the year. We'll find out what we're made of tomorrow night against a very good Maryland team.

Q. With those wins and renewed confidence, is there a sense of kind of a second chance or a reset button has been hit with these guys moving ahead to tomorrow's game?
CHRIS MACK: I don't know. I haven't looked at it from that perspective. We're just excited to be in the NCAA Tournament. I think every team in the country better hit that reset button because now it's one and done. An off shooting night, a lack of concentration, a team that plays with nerves and doesn't play to attack soon finds itself at home watching games on Friday in our case.

So we're excited. Guys have had a great couple of practices. And we need to be ready to go, like I said before, against a very, very talented Maryland team, a well coached team.

Q. Just talking about Coach Turgeon, he obviously played for Larry Brown and assisted with Roy Williams. Your pedigree with Sean Miller and playing for Pete and Skip Prosser. How much of a reflection of who you learned from will you see in this game tomorrow?
CHRIS MACK: Well, I think, as a coach, you're a collection of all your experiences -- all the people that you played for, all the people that you worked with, coached with. So I've stolen as much as I could steal from each of the guys that has either mentored me, in terms of a player-coach relationship or a coach-coach relationship. Whether it's pulling things from Sean or Skip or Coach Gillon, Jim Crews, Dick Burney (ph) all the way back in high school. I think every coach is a collection of their experiences.

I'm very fortunate to have been with those people, and hopefully that experience helps me tomorrow night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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