"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cracked Sidewalks Salute to the Seniors: Steve Novak

As we approach Senior Day, Cracked Sidewalks will honor this year’s senior class with our thoughts and memories of their finest MU moments. As we lead up to their last Bradley Center appearance on Saturday against the Providence Friars, let's take time to reflect on Chris Grimm, Joe Chapman and Steve Novak. Here's the schedule:

Thursday: Chris Grimm
Friday: Joe Chapman
Saturday: Steve Novak

Today's Honoree: Steve Novak


That is the short staccato delivery of Steve "the Homer" True, MU's play-by-play annoucement, as he announces another Steve Novak three point basket. Why "money"? Because with a .446 3 point shooting percentage, a Steve Novak three that goes in is as close to a sure thing as you can ge.

Much to the delight of MU fans, Homer has had to deliver that line 104 times so far this season.

Consider this: A small percentage of Steve Novak's shots actually draw iron. Usually that's a sign of a bricklayer--with Novak, it's a reflection of the accuracy of his shooting. His shots rarely hit the rim as they swish through the net.

Early on, MU fans knew Steve was going to be a special player. He was heavily recruited, and a final flurry of recruiting visits to the likes of Florida, North Carolina and Illinois kept fans on pins and needles. But the news came in on July 18th that Novak picked MU.

Steve's shooting touch was evident early on in his MU career. His very first came came against the highly touted Villanova freshman class. Showing no fear, Novak calmly went out in his first game as a collegiate and shot 2 for 3 beyond the arc. Three games later (against Eastern Illinois), he showed the Free Throw form that would later show up as best-ever shooting percentage in the NCAA, making the first pair of shots from the charity stripe.

If there's any criticism that was leveled against Steve it was that he was one dimensional. And for three years, one might have begun to belive that was the case. But his senior year, he's stepped up big time, with significant improvments in defense, rebounding, and ball handling. He's demonstrated the signs of becoming a complete player his senior year, becomming only the sixth player in MU history to tally 1000 points AND 500 rebounds. He's among MU's top 10 scorers of all time. Holds the record for 3 point shots made and attempted. And, of course, FT shooting.

There's not much more that can be said about Steve. Just this week, we've covered him here. And here, and here.

Selecting just three career highlighs is tough. But several performances stand out amongh others.
 His perfection against Missouri in the classic overtime game during the 2003 Final Four run helped MU against a scrappy opponent. Even though most credited that season to Dwyane Wade, our march to the final four never would have occured without Steve's clutch shooting against the Tigers.
 His league record 41 points against UConn in MU's first-ever Big East matchup, which has been recoginzed by the Big East as their top moment of the season. Of all the great players who have played in the Big East, holding this scoring record is truly a great accomplishment.
 His last second game winner against Notre Dame during the 05-06 season. There's nothing so exciting in college basketball as a game winning shot made as time expires. And a game winner against Notre Dame is even more special. Novak's shot is eaily the most memorable Notre Dame moment since Doc Rivers' half court game-winner in 1980-81.

Thanks for the memories, Steve.

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