Sean Miller on challenges of facing Xavier

Sean Miller discusses what makes Xavier a difficult matchup and more.

Sean Miller was certainly asked numerous questions about his past at Xavier and current relationships and although he may not want it to, it has been a storyline once again this week.

“Obviously, I know the story line is Xavier and Arizona and certainly the past connection with me being at Xavier for eight years,” Miller said. “I think if this was the first time that this happened, it would probably be a more appropriate or bigger story.

“How this has happened twice in the last three years or two years is amazing to me. If it happened in the NCAA Tournament, I think that's improbable enough, but to be here in the Sweet 16 round two of the last three years against these guys, you know, I wish it was different, but it isn't. 

“Now that I've said that, the focus clearly is on both teams, the players, the great players on both teams and I think both programs vying to stay alive and trying to advance.”

Miller and Xavier coach Chris Mack continue to stay in close contact and Miller has kept an eye on the Xavier program.

“The friendships that my family and I have, we still have today,” Miller said. “I don't get back to that area very often, only because it's not easy to being that we now live in Arizona.

“Chris Mack has led Xavier to four Sweet 16s in the last eight years. There aren't many coaches that can say that and our players, and I'm sure you got this when you talked to them, they know that Xavier has been to 11 of the last 12 NCAA Tournaments. 

“They know that a year ago Xavier was a No. 2 seed; that right now they're closer to being in, like, three or four Sweet 16s in a row than they are any other way.

“What they just did, they dismantled their bracket. It wasn't a close game at all -- in the last game against Florida State, and Florida State has one of the more talented teams in this tournament. So it's so much about in March being at your best than how you've been all year.

“The injury that they overcame from Sumner, I've watched them reinvent themselves by changing defenses, playing more zone. Macura and Bluiett, I think, are two just outstanding players. 

“Chris Mack is one of our game's bright coaches, great coaches. He's not my former assistant. He stands on his own two feet and his record and what he's done speaks for itself.”

Xavier is one of the best rebounding teams in the country and Miller has stressed how vital it is to keep the Musketeers off the glass.

“Xavier is a great rebounding team and because of such change and the injury and all the different things they've had to deal with, I think that's lost sometimes,” Miller said.

“They rebound toe to toe on defense and on offense with any team that we've played. As a matter of fact, they might be one of the best overall rebounding teams that we've played.

“We're going to have to be able to answer the bell in that one area. Macura and Bluiett are experienced. Their coaching staff does a great job of creating set plays and action to get them shots. 

“When Xavier is on defense -- and that's probably the biggest thing that's changed, really they're playing three different defenses. You have to recognize the defense they're in. You have to make sure that you can handle the ball and get good shots.

“J.P. Macura, he just has a knack of being able to deflect the ball and steal it and he's a nuisance in a really good way. We can't let him affect the game of disrupting us, regardless of what zone offense we're in.”

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