Why Has Xavier Men's Basketball Team Been Traveling With A Jar Filled With Ashes?
"Let's not just burn it. Let's keep the ashes."
The #11 seed Xaxier Muskateers will take on the Arizona Wildcats in a Sweet 16 matchup tomorrow night, and their trusty jar filled with ashes will be with them in San Jose.
The Muskateers have been traveling with this ash-filled jar since the end of February, which is when head coach Chris Mack decided to burn a calendar after his team finished the month with a 3-5 record and lost starting point guard Edmond Sumner to a torn ACL.
The team now travels with the ashes of that burned calendar in a jar.
According to ESPN,
"Let's not just burn it. Let's keep the ashes, buy an urn," Mack told his staff.
Mario Mercurio, the team's director of basketball administration, made a calendar of the month of February for every player.
Mack then asked each of the players to write one thing on the back of the calendar: something each player was willing to sacrifice over the next couple of weeks for the betterment of the team. It was private; no player had to share.
"We had a big aluminum trash can in the middle of the locker room," Mack said. "We made sure all the smoke detectors and alarms were off. Everybody burned it."
Mack reportedly sent a graduate assistant to go buy an urn but the one they wanted wasn't in stock so they settled on a glass jar which sits in the Xavier locker room.
"We just wanted our guys to constantly have a reminder, no matter where we went," Mack said. "During practice, managers put it out on the scorers table. We wanted our urn to go with us. So our players were forward-thinking and not worried about what happened."
"We wanted our players to understand that February was over. It's played out well for us."
Xavier is the lowest seed remaining in the NCAA Tournament and will look to advance to the Elite 8 with another upset win tomorrow night at 10:09pm on TNT.