“We're hunting to get to April,” said Musketeer head coach Chris Mack. “When you're hunted you have no idea you're in the game. Like a deer has no idea it's being hunted. It gets competitive. It's a game. We're doing hunting of our own.”
There was no sense of arrogance or overconfidence when the Musketeers spoke about Weber State, and they seem to be taking the Wildcats as seriously as they would any of their opponents this year.
The game plan defensively will be to limit the offensive outputs of Big Sky Tournament MVP Jeremy Senglin and Big Sky regular season MVP Joel Bolomboy.
“Weber State's really good. A comparison I'd think about is Providence, they do a lot of scoring and they have a really good supporting cast for those two guys,” Xavier guard Myles Davis said. “The big man, Bolomboy ... (is) athletic and really strong. Senglin can really shoot the ball, so we just got to be ready and have to make it a tough day for those two guys.”
In comparing Bolomboy to a player the Musketeers have already seen, Mack said that he’s one of a kind and presents problems everywhere.
“I don't think there's anyone that has his size, skill, athleticism,” Mack said. “He's the reigning defensive player of the year. He's just a big challenge on both sides of the floor. He's athletic enough to play a four (position). It’s a big challenge for us.”
That does not mean they’ll let other players get what they want, as Mack made a point not to take anyone on the Wildcats for granted.
“I'm really impressed,” he said. “Obviously it all starts with Bolomboy. But they've got other players that are very, very big. And then not only Senglin, but Richardson, guys on the perimeter can really, really shoot the 3. And so that's sort of the rub you're in. How do you want to play their front court, because their perimeter players really space you and spread you with their ability to shoot the 3.”
Xavier will have a heavy emphasis on winning the rebound battle and stick to their dominant identity as one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
“You can't allow opponents to get second, third, fourth, fifth shots. You have to be able to take care of the ball, make good decisions on offense,” Mack said. “Just be who you are and just continuing to be that team that you've been on the practice floor and in game night every minute you're out there. And things will take care of themselves.”
The first-round game between Xavier and Weber State will tip off at 7:20 p.m MDT and will be broadcast on TNT, stream on NCAA.com and air on 1430 AM KLO radio.