Big Strides for Barro

Ousmane Barro, the 6-10 native of Senegal, came to Marquette with more question marks than most. How would he adjust to organized basketball at the division one level? Could he make an impact with his long wingspan and budding athleticism? This past season, the big man that fellow Marquette students simply call "Ooze", answered many of those questions.

It would be difficult to find a player in the history of Marquette basketball that came to the school with more question marks than Ousmane Barro. How would the 6-10 native of Senegal adjust to organized basketball at the division one level? Could he make an impact with his long wingspan and budding athleticism? They were questions not just of, "Could he play?" But questions of, "Could he contribute?"

Unfortunately for Barro, he was thrust into the fire during his freshmen year. He averaged ten minutes a game and chipped in a two points and two rebounds per contest. His playing time was inconsistent. He played a season high 28 minutes versus Louisville but failed to get minutes at all in four of the teams' games.

Still, for a work in progress, Barro was upbeat about the prospects for his sophomore campaign. Last summer, he told, "I am going to take it one step at a time because I know this is a process. I know I will get there one day." This past season, Barro took a giant step towards some of his goals.

In 2005-2006, Ousmane averaged over four points a game and pulled down nearly three rebounds a game. He finished second on the team in blocked shots and field goal percentage. He scored 135 points, which is almost triple the amount he scored freshmen year. While the numbers might not seem staggering, Barro did have more of a floor presence during his sophomore season. His length anchored a match-up zone defense that Marquette used many times in the second half of the season.

The crowing moment of Barro's career came in Marquette's most important game since the 2003 Final Four. In the Golden Eagles' 90-85 loss to Alabama in the 2006 San Diego Regional of the NCAA tournament, Barro scored thirteen points, grabbed three rebounds, had three steals, and three blocks. The slipper fit Marquette's own Cinderella in Barro, who surprised many with his breakout performance on college basketball biggest stage. When Barro spent some of the second half on the bench due to foul trouble, it was clear that Marquette was missing something.

Remember the question, "Could he contribute?" The answer was now clear.

Despite the bitter defeat, Barro's performance against Alabama has left many Marquette fans hoping for great things in his final two seasons. As for Barro, it's business as usual.

"I will be spending a lot of time in the gym this summer," said Barro. "The main thing I want to work on for next season is my footwork and getting shots up."

Next season, Ousmane will also step into more of a leadership role as three seniors graduate in 2006. Being a junior will not change his approach, however, as Barro plans to lead by example as always.

"I do not think I'll have a tough time stepping up next year. The thing I will have to do is be there every practice working hard and giving a consistent effort--do the little things and move on from there."

Marquette will need that consistent effort from Barro as the Golden Eagles take flight into their second Big East season. With the transfer of Ryan Amoroso, Barro figures to anchor a front line that could include incoming freshmen Lazar Hayward, who will play more of a small forward than a power forward. Whatever the case, Barro has gone from a question mark to a contributing player in just two seasons. What the next two hold…we can only wait with anticipation of more giant steps forward.

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