Providing leadership on and off the court, Ryan Amoroso and Ousmane Barro continue to come forward as much needed presences on the interior.
Having the opportunity for playing time down low, they both took advantage of that opportunity in Alaska in helping lead Marquette to the championship of the Great Alaska Shootout.
Amoroso came through with the performance of the tournament with 30 points and 12 rebounds, including of 9 of Marquette's 12 points in overtime, in the 92-89 victory over South Carolina in the championship game. For that excellent performance, Amoroso was named College Insider player of the week.
"I'm simply buying into the team concept, and helping us come together as a team and compete everyday," states Amoroso. "The Big East is going to be exciting. While cynics may predict us to finish in the bottom quarter of the league, we're prepared to surprise people."
Amoroso focused on becoming more versatile in the off-season, playing both inside and outside. This inside-outside game was in full effect Saturday night, hitting 3-4 three point attempts, along with his 12 rebounds, 4 of which came on the offensive end, including the rebound that led to game-winning three point play, and the key rebound on defensive end that helped seal the win over South Carolina.
"Ryan has shown maturity improvements in all facets of the game, and he's understood obligation of stepping up in practice," states assistant coach Jason Rabedeaux.
Along with Amoroso's big performance in the finals, Ousmane Barro's breakout game in the semifinals keyed Marquette in a 73-70 victory over a strong Oral Roberts team. Barro's 12 points and 5 rebounds helped to catapult Marquette past the Mid-Continent power into the finals showdown with South Carolina.
"This year I've been much more comfortable, knowing what coach (Crean) expects," says Barro. "I'm willing to play whatever position coach asks me and now I'm able to move quicker and move using my hands."
Barro's ability to run the court and finish were showcased when he threw down a big dunk in the second half of the South Carolina. Along with running the court, Barro must provide a strong rebounding presence down low.
"Ousmane has progressed a lot, and he's been the leading defensive rebounder in practice," states head coach Tom Crean.
"Ousmane's skill level has improved greatly," adds coach Rabedeaux.
While their only sophomores, Amoroso and Barro are two of the more experienced members of a team that features seven newcomers and are counted to provide leadership on and off the court.
"They lead by their actions," states freshman Matt Mortensen. "They work extremely hard and we follow them."
Coming from Provo, Utah, Mortensen has had to become adjusted a new lifestyle, similar to the one Dakar, Senegal native Barro had to make.
"This was all new to Ousmane, and he's helped me adjust and given me some advice," states Mortensen.
"We've got an extremely close-knit team, and Ryan and Ousmane have both done a great job in showing the newcomers the ropes," adds coach Rabedeaux.
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