Athletic, Versatile, and Tough-Minded

These are the words Tom Crean used to describe the four recent signees to the men's basketball program for the 2007-2008 season. In a press conference today at the Al McGuire Center, Crean addressed the subject of his recent recruits.

This afternoon at the Al McGuire Center, Marquette men's basketball coach Tom Crean commented on the state of his recruiting class for the fall of 2007. The class includes forwards Patrick Hazel, Damian Saunders, and Trevor Mbakwe and guard Scott Christopherson.

"We're pleased with this class because it continues to fill what we think are needs on our team. They're athletic, versatile, and very tough-minded."

The addition of several post players with huge potential for development based on their athleticism was something that excited Crean about the future.

"Scoring and rebounding and all those things are very important. But how well your 4 and 5 men can play defense, and how they can get out and move, and the ground they can cover… if they can do those things they're going to be pretty good rebounders, they're going to be pretty good scorers, and they're going to be able to get open."

Two of the players, Saunders of Notre Dame (Fitchburg, Mass.) Prep and Hazel of Queens, NY's Blain Academy, are both attending a year of preparatory school after their senior year in high school. Both institutions are highly respects for their basketball programs.

Crean said of his two five-year prospects, "I do think the maturity helps. I do think the extra year of discipline [helps], but really it comes down to people coming from excellent programs."

Current freshman forward Lazar Hayward also attended Notre Dame Prep.

When asked whether he was content with bringing in only one player, Christopherson, from the state of Wisconsin, Crean responded that Marquette always looked for the best fit possible regardless of in-state status.

"When you're in the Big East like we are you have to adjust to that," said Crean. "The Big East is a national level conference, and we play a lot of games on the Eastern Seabord. There's a lot of fine players, programs, and coaches out there. But I think we're always going to be in the running if we feel its going to be the best thing for us as well as for the young man."

While Crean emphasized not allowing the program to be boxed in to a single recruiting philosophy, he expressed the desire to continue inside-out recruiting from the Midwest, especially Wisconsin and the Chicagoland area.

More than anything, Crean stressed that the program focuses on finding recruits that possess a desire to improve and who carry the game with them at all times.

"You can be tricked by how much better somebody wants to get and how hard they're willing to work at it, and that's what you really have to search for and have a feel for. And with this class we feel pretty confident with [their work ethic]."

As far as upcoming games are concerned, the head coach insisted that the full force of his staff's preparation has been geared toward Saturday's matchup with Eastern Michigan despite the much anticipated game with Bobby Knight's Texas Tech team Monday in Kansas City.

"One of the big things we talked about last night [in practice] was, ‘Where do we go from here?' Everybody's well aware of what the opportunities are on Monday and Tuesday. But we have a game on Saturday afternoon where the team coming in here will be very competitive. And we've got to make sure that we are [ready to go]."

Marquette next hits the court at the Bradley Center Saturday at 1 PM against the aforementioned Eagles of the Mid America Conference.

**Jeff Wolf is a freshman majoring in Advertising

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