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Is Chris Mack a wizard?

You would think an opponent who knew what was coming could stop it. You would be wrong.

NCAA Basketball: Buffalo at Xavier
Pictured: a practitioner of the dark arts, maybe
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

So here’s something interesting I saw on Twitter today:

It’s literally vintage Chris Mack stuff. If a defender on a baseline out turns his back to the ball - which, by the way, you should not do in that situation - there’s a chance the inbounder whistles it past his ear to a teammate for a hopefully easy two. It almost always works, and it’s been happening for a while now. It happened against Clemson, from Ed to JP.

Now here’s another thing (jump ahead to the 1:35 mark):

Pretty much since the end of the Holloway era, Coach Mack has been running this one. Double screen on the baseline for a shooter, then a post-to-post cross screen. Pass, pass, layup. O’Mara had more work to do than the big usually does here, but he finished it with aplomb.

It’s not just those two plays, though. It’s everything Xavier runs. In this New York Times article from March, Coach Mack says, “We’re sort of full disclosure here.” He’s talking about the newsletter Xavier sends out to coaches that details Xavier’s plays, drills, and vernacular. It’s basically all there.

Coach Mack says that “it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort for a program to learn your plays and learn your drills.” Maybe not, but it doesn’t appear that a lot of teams are putting in that effort against Xavier. Or Coach Mack is a wizard.

He’s not, obviously. It all comes down to execution. Xavier runs plays that work and has confidence in the skill and preparation of the players and coaches. The fact that it makes the opponent look lazy and dumb really just speaks to how disciplined and smart the Xavier offense is. I love that these plays still work, and I love what that says about the direction of the program.