Xavier stays a successful course with new coach Print
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Wednesday, 15 April 2009 11:45
NCAAB Headline News


 CINCINNATI (AP) -In the middle of his introductory speech for Xavier's next basketball coach, athletics director Mike Bobinski was interrupted by a loud telephone ring emanating from the right breast pocket of his dark suit jacket.
``Oh, I apologize,'' Bobinski said, quickly reaching into his pocket to turn off his cell phone.
While giggles filled the ornate conference room on Xavier's campus, Bobinski looked around and said, ``It's done, just in case anyone's wondering.''
The wondering was done a day earlier, when Xavier elevated assistant Chris Mack to replace Sean Miller. The remaining question is whether Bobinski made the right decision on Mack, who attended Xavier basketball camps as a boy, played two years for the Musketeers and was an assistant there for the last five seasons under Miller.
The main drawback: He's never been a head coach at the college level.
``I know many people may question my head coaching experience, but believe me, I've made basketball decisions my entire life,'' the 39-year-old Mack told supporters Wednesday. ``You could have brought in a different coach, but the time it would have taken to acclimate himself to Xavier ... it wouldn't have happened overnight, trust me when I tell you that.''
That was the tricky part for the Jesuit school that has a legacy of making the right choices for the top job.
Xavier returns potentially the best team in its history next season. The Musketeers lose only two players off a team that went 27-8, won its third straight Atlantic 10 regular season title and reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament, one year after going to the Elite Eight.
If junior Derrick Brown decides to stay rather than go into the NBA draft, Xavier could be a Top 10 team - the Musketeers made it as high as No. 7 last season - with the highest expectations in school history.
That provided a conundrum for Bobinski. If he brought in an outsider, there would be a break-in period that could affect the team's chances next season and beyond. If he went with Mack, he would be hiring a rookie head coach who will have a lot of pressure while growing into the job.
The players lobbied for Mack, who was the leading candidate after his first interview.
``The fact that they brought in somebody who is going to sort of do the same things as coach Miller is huge,'' freshman center Kenny Frease said. ``With the guys we've got coming back next year, we've got a chance to do big things around here, to take Xavier basketball to places where it's never been. You never know what's going to happen if a coach came in that everybody didn't like.''
Bobinski has been the athletics director for nine years, bringing in Thad Matta and Miller to extend a quarter-century of successful coaching. Pete Gillen, Skip Prosser, Matta and Miller built Xavier into a nationally prominent program. Each took the school to another level before leaving for a larger university.
Miller's departure for Arizona stunned the campus because he was leaving such a talented team.
``The reaction and the emotions of a lot of people in the Xavier community ran the gamut from angry to sad to worried to distraught to overcome with grief - you name it. But that was never how we felt about it,'' Bobinski said. ``We have been here before. We have done this before. And the results have been, each and every time, a better place than we've been before.''
ns. Last season, their only true point guard was freshman Terrell Holloway, whose development was severely slowed by a stress fracture in his foot.
``I'm going to make sure there's continuity in what we're doing,'' Mack said.
Brown, a forward who is Xavier's most versatile player, is gathering information about where he might go if he enters the NBA draft. Mack said it's too early to tell how he's leaning.
``I've told Derrick: 'Whichever way it goes, I'm behind you 100 percent because I only care about Derrick Brown,''' Mack said.
His introductory news conference felt more like a reunion. Mack, who played two years at Evansville before transferring to Xavier, saw school president Rev. Michael Graham standing at the side of the conference room and thanked him.
``I guess, Father, that not skipping your history class when I first transferred has paid dividends,'' Mack said.
Mack's goal now is to make a little history.
 

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