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March 22, 2017

Chris Mack

Edmond Sumner

Trevon Bluiett

Quentin Goodin

Tyrique Jones

J.P. Macura

San Jose, California

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Xavier coach Chris Mack to the dais. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH MACK: The team's excited to be here. I'm proud of the effort our team has played with here over the last couple of weeks. Hasn't necessarily been easy. We've dealt with injuries. We dealt with a lot of adversity. But I give a lot of credit to the kids in our locker room, the guys in our locker room for believing in each other and continuing to fight and persevere.

So we understand what's at stake and we play a program we have a lot of respect for. Obviously there's a lot of familiarity I'm sure you're going to talk about. But it really comes down to the players on both sides who don't have that familiarity and their ability to sort of step up in the moment and we're excited for Thursday.


Q. Last week you talked about how fortunate you were to, how fortunate you felt to be staying on the East Coast and the Eastern Time Zone for that first weekend. Coming out here, what are the biggest challenges of coming to the West Coast and how have you been able to do that since you got into town?
COACH MACK: I think adrenalin takes over. The biggest challenge is Arizona, and that's it. It's not the time change, the flight's over with. The game's late, which we're fine with. I mean, we've had an awful lot of time to prepare, just as Arizona has. The biggest challenge is their team and being able to defend them and being able to figure out a way to manufacture baskets against them, period.

Q. You just talked about the challenges, but what are the challenges facing someone you know so well in Sean Miller?
COACH MACK: I mean, I think that story was a story that played well the first time around. I think it's great seeing him and his family and vice versa. But my players don't care about Sean, just as Sean's players don't care about me. And it is about our teams and they've had a great season.

He's done great things at Arizona since he's been there. And we want to take advantage of the opportunity. Our guys have earned the right to be here in San Jose, to play for an opportunity to get to the Elite Eight. And that's really what we're focused on.

So each of us have a few calls from each other's playbook, but other than that players are going to have to execute and figure out the way to get the job done tomorrow night.

Q. Whenever an 11 seed gets this far in the tournament, phrases like bracket buster, Cinderella get thrown away. I'm well aware you're not concerned about outside labels, but do you think your team has exhibited Cinderella-like qualities in a basketball sense in defying some of the odds to get to this point?
COACH MACK: I think it depends on whose expectations you're trying to fulfill. If you're trying to fulfill the outside world's expectations, sure, we could be thrown in that box. But I'm more worried about the expectations within our own locker room. And if those are in check and if those are the priorities, then I don't feel like we feel like we're an underdog.

You're only an underdog if you feel like you're the lesser team. And I don't feel that way about our guys and I don't think they feel that way about each other. Having said that, we recognize how good Arizona is and has been for the entire year. And so it's a huge challenge, but every time you go a step of the way in this tournament, every challenge becomes tougher.

Q. I was reading somewhere this morning that you guys keep a jar of ashes in your locker room. If so, what exactly is that?
COACH MACK: Well, I think it's been well documented that we had a tough February. We lost Edmond at St. John's. We lost Trevon for a stretch of games. We played really good teams and lost six in a row. After the fifth loss, we decided to have a calendar made for each one of our players and talk about February, the challenging teams that we played, the results that happened.

And really wanted our players to focus on turning the page. Even after that losing streak, by every bracketologist known to man, we were still a part of the NCAA Tournament. However Selection Sunday was a couple of weeks from then. So we had to figure out a way to be able to turn the page and know as low as we feel as bad as we feel there's a lot of good things that can happen if we have the right mindset. So we decided to have our players sort of burn those calendars.

We did it in the big aluminum trash can in the locker room. We made sure the fire chiefs were out of the building. And then we bought an urn. Our GA, Allen Payne, went over to WalMart, tried to buy an urn. The only one that was available had frogs and roses. Didn't think that was very appropriate.

So we bought a clear jar, called it an urn. I've never seen one, at least up close and personal so I couldn't tell a difference whether it was an urn or not. Put the ashes in there as a symbolic gesture that February is gone. Let's concentrate and move forward in March.

Q. How often do you look at that?
COACH MACK: Well it's ever present. It's always on the scorer's table when we practice. It's always in the locker room when our guys come off the floor. We take it everywhere we go. They're sort of forced to. Just a reminder that good things and special things can happen as we look forward and not worry about what happened in the past.

Q. Against Maryland and Florida State, you were able to, in the interior, go right at those teams. Does the fact that Markkanen can step out and shoot from range make it a little bit harder attack the interior, or maybe easier?
COACH MACK: I don't think it's easy to attack any of the teams in the tournament. That's who we've always been. We've always wanted to be a team that plays inside/out first. We want to get the ball into the lane, whether it's through post-ups, through drives, through offensive rebounding, through plays.

The team I think that gets the ball in there the most often gets to the foul line and can also generate better looks from the outside. And it's taken our team a little bit longer, especially with the loss of Edmond, who put so much pressure on the defense and got into the lane. But I've always been a big believer that -- part of that is because that's what Sean and Skip taught me when I was assistants for them. And so we didn't try to veer. And I think our guys have done a terrific job in the postseason with that in mind on the offensive end.

Q. I know there is a game and the point is to survive and advance, but what does yet another Sweet 16 mean for you, for this program -- I guess, that it has been this many times since '08, six times, and now you're, I think, fourth, right?
COACH MACK: Yeah, I mean, I don't take it for granted. And we don't take it for granted because we know how difficult it is to win, let alone one NCAA Tournament game. To be able to get to the second weekend is especially meaningful. But the eye of the needle gets smaller and the teams are trying to get in, to get to a Final Four. You're going to run against great programs, great coaches, experienced players, talented players.

But that's not going to lessen our desire and want for the game. I mean, we're here to win. People may not expect us to win, but as I said before, I really don't take a whole lot of stock in other people's expectations. We're here to win. We're here to compete and to win and the team that does that best tomorrow night will win.

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Xavier student-athletes Tyrique Jones, Quentin Goodin, Edmond Sumner, Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura. Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. I guess we can start with any of you five, to be honest, just opening thoughts on Arizona and being in the Sweet 16 again and obviously this matchup Thursday?
J.P. MACURA: Arizona is a great team. They're very big inside. They've got athletic guards. I think we need to do a great job of containing the guards and the bigs and keeping the paint tight and forcing them into tough shots.

We're all excited to be here. My freshman year we lost to them, obviously, and it was tough. We're excited to have another crack at it.

TREVON BLUIETT: Yeah, just to piggyback off him, I would say it's a pretty good feeling to be back in the Sweet 16. Having done it freshman year, it's kind of refreshing. As far as Arizona, pretty much what he said. They're an athletic team, athletic guards and they play well together. They're well-coached and they're pretty big on the inside. So it's going to be a pretty tough battle.

Q. Quentin, in general with the program, talked to Chris Mack earlier about another Sweet 16 for this program, the expectations maybe that there are for it. Coming in, is this what you -- and the freshman class -- what you expected when you look at Xavier and, we're going to go to Sweet 16s, compete for Elite Eights and Final Fours, national titles, that type of thing?
QUENTIN GOODIN: I feel like we just play to win and whatever happens happens. We live with the results. You know, going to a Sweet 16, Elite Eight, Final Four, you know, them are great accomplishments, but ultimate goal is to win a championship, not go to the Sweet 16 or Final Four.

Q. For anybody from the 2015 team, what do you guys remember about playing Arizona and playing in that kind of environment?
J.P. MACURA: The only thing I remember is the locker room after the game because I never re-watched the tape. I just remember guys with their heads down and some crackers on the floor. People got a little frustrated and that's about it. That's one of the reasons why I want to come ready to play tomorrow, because I don't want to have that feeling again.

TREVON BLUIETT: Same thing. I just remember it being a good battle throughout the whole game, going back and forth. And we were competing for the longest -- but I think the last couple minutes of the game we kind of gassed out and they ended up getting the best of us. But besides that everything else seems pretty much vague to me. But I'm excited to get back here tomorrow and go at it again.

Q. You guys have played Maryland and Florida State, both athletic teams. What's the difference between Arizona and those two teams when you watch the tape?
J.P. MACURA: I would say individually they're a little bit smarter. They lock into little details, and I think we need to match that. We need to be ready from the start. I mean, we need to play together and tough. And I think it's going to be a battle tomorrow.

Q. Edmond, could you speak about this experience for you, being here at least and what you're feeling and what it means to you to be here for Thursday and maybe through the weekend and beyond?
EDMOND SUMNER: Yes, like I was here. I was part of the 2015 team, too, but I wasn't playing as well. But this year is a little different because I actually was playing throughout the whole year and just had a season-ended injury.

But it's good to be here with the guys, you know, they keep my spirits up. And them winning, it keeps my hope up a lot seeing them succeed. That's the ultimate goal this year was for us to get back to the Sweet 16 and advance. So for them to get back here, I mean it's great, especially all the adversity we had to face throughout the whole year, it's great to be here.

Q. How have you tried to stay involved or to help these guys or help the guy next to you, I guess, since you've been hurt? I'm sure you're trying to balance the mental part of not playing, rehab and then still being connected to your guys?
EDMOND SUMNER: I just try to give them words of encouragement, especially Q. Sitting on the sideline, being able to see it on TV, I kind of see more than I did when I was playing, actually. So him being a freshman, I'm knowing that him having to fulfill big roles, I just try to keep him up, keep his spirits up, keep his confidence high and let him know there's going to be ups and downs. He'll have to keep pushing, especially him being the point guard everyone is looking at him. So if he's calm and collected, everybody else follows.

Q. Quentin, kind of piggyback off that a little bit with your relationship with him and how that's changed or he's helped since the injury and you having to play more of a role?
QUENTIN GOODIN: Ed's helped me a lot. I feel like I followed every footstep he's ever guided me. And I feel like it all started in practice. Our very first practice, we were head to head and he dominated.

And I just went back and watched film with Coach Steele. And also, as he said, shared some words of encouragement, not to get down and things like that. So Ed's really helped me, I guess, guided me through this whole path.

Q. Any of you guys can speak to this, people will see the seed number and sort of put Xavier in a bracket buster, Cinderella kind of thing, but considering where you guys came from a year ago, two years ago, preseason rank, do you guys view yourselves as an underdog at this point? Or do you sit here feeling this is where we belong and we don't feel that way, I guess?
J.P. MACURA: To be honest with you, we don't look at the number at all. We're not really worried about what others think of us, we're just worried about us coming together as a team and playing for one another.

TREVON BLUIETT: Yeah, we never looked at ourselves as an underdog, I don't think, in my opinion. It was just all about making the tournament and then once we made it, it didn't really matter who was in front of us. We were just going to go play our game.

Q. Tyrique, Chris Mack said that you guys are a team that likes to play from the inside/out. How important is it going to be to defend their bigs tomorrow? And what do you specifically have to do to challenge them tomorrow?
TYRIQUE JONES: We come out at the beginning of the game just trying to be tough. And just we watch film, lock into details and see what their bigs do best, learn how to defend them. And from our toughness and our ability to score the ball inside, we go from there.

Q. Does it make a difference that they have a 7-footer that can step out and shoot 3s? And how do you plan on defending that if you should be matched up with him?
TYRIQUE JONES: I don't change the way how I defend. I know some guys are different. Like I said, I just lock into the details and what players do best and how to just to defend them. If he shoots 3s, be there on the catch. If he scores most of his points from a right-hand hook, sit on his left shoulder. That's just it.


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