There are many paths to advance in coaching, but only one that makes advancement a certainty: winning. For all those much-ballyhooed “coaching trees” where, for example, half the coaches in America link to Dean Smith or Mike Krzyzewski the way actors link to Kevin Bacon, there are more humble routes, too. (Not so humble that you accept anything but the best, mind you.) This seemingly humbler road is the one Xavier head coach Chris Mack has traveled — and he sure makes it look smooth.
Mack and his Xavier Musketeers, where he’s been head coach since 2009, are in their second Sweet 16 in three years. With Mack as head coach, the Musketeers have missed the NCAA tournament just once. The hometown hero Mack grew up outside Cincinnati — where Xavier is — and played his last two years of college hoops for the Musketeers. Then after graduating he took a job coaching the junior varsity basketball team at an Ohio all-girls Catholic high school, whose motto is “Be Empowered.” Mack was. From 1993 to 1999 he coached the girls varsity at Mount Notre Dame High School in Ohio, another prestigious all-girls Catholic prep school that had been established in 1860. Mack only started coaching men’s basketball when he returned to Xavier in 1999 as an assistant. Mack still coaches girls sometimes — it’s just that now they’re his daughters. The Musketeers face the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday night at 10:09 ET.