In 2009, Chris Mack was lucky enough to land his dream job with Xavier, his alma mater. Fast forward seven years, and you'll see Chris Mack excelling in it. Growing up just outside of Cincinnati and playing two years for the Musketeers, Mack couldn't have drawn this up better himself. Since being named head coach in 2009, Mack has compiled an overall record of 162-77 and led the program to NCAA Tournament appearances in six out of those seven seasons.
The 2015-2016 season was one to remember for Chris Mack and Xavier. Finishing at 28-6 with a 14-4 record in the Big East, Mack's group produced the best winning percentage for a Xavier team since 1989-90. He also steered the team to a No. 5 ranking in the Associated Press Poll, which was the highest in school history. Following the milestone-filled campaign, Mack's contract was extended through the 2021-2022 season. But he's still not satisfied.
A 28-6 overall record is great, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament is nice, and breaking school records is fun, but losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament is not. Was facing Wisconsin a tough second round draw? Maybe. Would Chris Mack use that as an excuse? Never. He's hungry to make Xavier a known national power, and he's sticking around until he does so (see: absurdly long contract extension). No matter how great last season was for the program, this one stings.
Bill Murray's face makes that highlight so much more depressing than it really should be.
So what's next after a great year with an early postseason exit?
Xavier returns top scorers Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner alongside starting point guard Myles Davis to form a solid core. Losing James Farr and Jalen Reynolds hurts, as both 6'10 forwards averaged around 10 PPG last season. Despite those two departures, a strong recruiting class for Mack and his staff will help Musketeer fans get over these losses rather quickly.
With three incoming four-star recruits, Xavier will have a nice balance of experience and youth this coming season. Quentin Goodin and Tyrique Jones are both top 100 prospects and represent a successful recruiting period for Chris Mack. Jones will help to replace the athletic length that was lost in Jalen Reynolds, while Goodin provides some much needed depth at guard following the transfer of Larry Austin Jr. Eddie Ekiyor closes out the class of 2016 by bringing in a big build and additional length at the forward position. His ability to run the floor and play above the rim will benefit the Musketeers in the (ideally) near future. Drawing comparisons to James Farr, Ekiyor can really help out the Musketeers after a year or two of experience.
Over the past few seasons, Mack has continuously managed to put a successful product on the floor. Don't expect this year to be any different. With solid experience from last season, the Musketeers will be towards the top of the Big East standings once again. But for Chris Mack, the importance comes after Big East play has ended. Will this finally be the year Mack can get past the Sweet Sixteen? Or will the season end with another disappointing early round exit? Only time will tell, but Mack's group led by Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett will be a force to be reckoned with once again.