Offseason Work Has Marquette Ready

With the Marquette basketball kick-off only a few days away, players and coaches feel good about improvements made in the offseason.

"How good do you want to be?" "How much better do you want to get?"

These two questions served as Tom Crean's offseason motivation for his Golden Eagles, and they must have hit home because Marquette players feel ready for the start of the 2006-07 season.

Senior center Mike Kinsella goes into his final season surprised about the progress that he has seen from his teammates in the off season.

"There has never been a summer since I have been here that I have seen more off-season improvement," Kinsella said. "Everyone has gotten so much better."

After a season that surprised most of the nation, but ended with some "unfinished business", the Golden Eagles are ready for 2006-07 to begin.

When asked, Marquette Head Coach Tom Crean said that constant improvement is the only way he cares to rank his team.

"You don't focus on expectations, a lack of expectations or even what they are. The guys were this summer and I thought we had an excellent preseason," said Crean. "They have all gotten a lot stronger and quicker."

For junior Ousmane Barro, the team's development will have them ready for playing even better during the sophomore year of the BIG EAST.

"Last year was the first year for all of us in the BIG EAST, and this being the second year, we knew what we had to do," Barro said. "For me, it meant working on my alley-game and shooting and rebounding more--plus watching a lot of film, especially of Robert Jackson to see how he did things."

The off season also gave Marquette a chance to look back and learn from last season, including the way it came to an end.

For sophomore Jerel McNeal, the taste of the NCAA Tournament last spring is constantly in the back of his mind.

When asked if he wanted to make it back to the Dance in order to erase a bad memory, McNeal said, "That loss is something that will stay with me forever."

Even though he was recently named as a member of the No. 4 backcourt in the country, McNeal understands that in order to win in the BIG EAST, all players must continue to work hard together as well as individually.

""We have to play the level that we are capable of. Everyone must compete every night and everyone needs to play their role to win," McNeal said. "Three can't beat five."

If the preseason is any indication of the upcoming season, Marquette fans will be in for a treat.

"Everyone has really improved. I just can't wait for people to see everybody play this season," said Barro.

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