Marquette Players React to NCAA Tournament

The Marquette Men's Basketball Team waited with anticipation on Sunday night to hear their name announced as one of the 65 to make it to the NCAA tournament. When their name was called, MarquetteHoops.com's John Dodds was there and got the reactions from Steve Novak, Dominic James, Chris Grimm and Ousmane Barro.

Steve Novak

DOS: Congratulations on going back to the NCAA Tournament.

Novak: When we were up in Alaska playing in the Great Alaska shootout, we played like these were NCAA Tournament games. We knew where we wanted to end up so we had to win those games. We tried to give the freshmen as much feeling for the NCAA Tournament as possible. But there is nothing like actually playing in the NCAA Tournament.

DOS: It's three years later, how is this feeling different than it was when you were on the team with Dwayne Wade and Travis Diener and Robert Jackson?

Novak: Obviously, four years later I have a much better feeling and respect for what the NCAA Tournament is all about. Being able to go through it is so special, especially what we did freshman year. Now coming back to it again is such a special feeling for me, Joe Chapman and Chris Grimm. We set goals at the beginning of the year to return to the NCAA and we were able to do it. There was no question in any one's mind that we could attain those goals.

DOS: In 2003, what advice were the veteran players giving you?

Novak: With those guys, so much of the year was really "follow our lead," --- "just trust what we do." And what they said, we did. That's the same thing we tried to do this year with the younger guys. They have played so well for us and have been so mature. We told them what it was like to do this before and they believed us, and they worked very, very hard. So we were there once before so we will try to tell them as much as we can about it but it is just a great experience. We showed them films about it and we have already been through it.

DOS: The Big East Tournament last week had to be a big advantage for them.

Novak: No question, they are playing against Georgetown and that atmosphere was a great preparation for the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, we didn't come away with a win but any game like that is great experience for our young team. We all learned something from that game and we hope it helps us this week.


Dominic James

DOS: Last week you played in the pressure packed Big East Tournament in NYC. Can you use that as a stepping stone for this week?

James: We definitely have to use that as a learning experience. All year long we have been taking experiences from different situations and learning from them and capitalizing on them. This is what we will have to do after playing a game in Madison Square Garden, truly a great atmosphere. We probably won't see another atmosphere like that until possibly the Sweet 16. We have definitely used that as a learning tool which will prepare us for the NCAA.


Chris Grimm

DOS:Congratulations on going back to the NCAA Tournament. How does it feel compared to the NIT?

Reaper:There is a lot of nervousness and anxiety because I do appreciate the NCAA Tournament more because I experienced it three years ago. To go to the NCAA is really special. It is something I will remember forever.

DOS: As a freshman, you were kind of along for the ride. Now you are a senior showing leadership. How has your role changed?

Reaper: Freshmen know how special the NCAA Tournament is. The seniors, Joe, Steve and I have to impart to them how on top of your game you have to be, so I think we are going to have to stretch that to them this week.


Ousmane Barro

DOS: Congratulations on making the NCAA Tournament. Was that your goal at the beginning of the year?

Ooze: It was our goal at the beginning of the year. The Final Four year was on everybody's mind especially because Joe, Steve, and Chris kept talking about how great it was. This is a new experience for the rest of the team and it is great.

DOS: Have you seen the NCAA Final Four run with wins over Missou, Pitt, and Kentucky?

Ooze: Yes, a few months ago we saw those games.

DOS: Over the past year, you have really improved your low post game. Do you feel more confident?

Ooze: Yes, I have really been working hard and I do feel more confident. Everyday before practice and after practice I work on post moves. I want to get better everyday.

DOS: What was the Big East Tournament like? It's almost like a Sweet 16 Tournament.

Ooze: It was a great feeling, an unbelievable feeling to play in Madison Square Garden in NYC. It was great.

DOS: Georgetown's Hibbert in shoes and socks has to be about 7' 4". He's the biggest center I can remember Marquette playing in 25 years.

Ooze: Yes, he and Aaron Gray of Pittsburgh, those are some big kids. You really have to battle with them.


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