Instead of putting together a storyline, I thought people would rather just cut to the chase and hear what Coach Crean and Lazar had to say. Here is part 1 with Coach Crean, Lazar's comments will follow in part 2.
Coach Crean:I haven’t even seen this guy play until yesterday, on the floor actually working out. That was the first time I had seen him shoot a basketball since the middle of June when he was at our Elite Camp. But Lazar has weathered a heck of a storm for somebody his age. He has gone through some adversity that he never had to really face before in having something basically taken away from him that he didn’t see coming.
It has always been a paperwork issue that we’ve had to deal with. But he’s always had the faith and the belief that the process would work it out as has his father judging by the fact that he had, at this university, paid his own way until last night, which is good. We just wanted to give you an opportunity to talk to him. Where it stands right now is much like yesterday, we’ve learned nothing new from there, we’re not sure we’ll learn anything in the very near future, we hope we will, but he is a member of the team – someone that can compete on the floor and eat at the training tables and do all those different things that we do as a team – be a part of Marquette Madness tonight which will really be his first time for anybody to have an opportunity to see him play. The only thing that he hasn’t been cleared to do right now is compete on the floor in a game.
Lazar has done a great job. I think the school here has done a fantastic job of putting him in position to succeed with what he has done up in the academic area, with what he has done with his tutoring, with the summer and getting acclimated coming in here. To have a great love be taken away from you for a couple of months and still be able to work on what is most important which was his academics speaks volumes about what kind of person he is and what kind of character he has. The most important thing now is that we trust in the process – we believed in the process through this time, there’s no reason to stop believing in it and we just have to let it go until it comes. Right now there isn’t anything else we can do anyway. It is a win situation right now to have him here and it sure beats what the alternative would have been, so whatever happens from this point on – we’ll deal with it, but to know that he is here and part of this team and that we can pay for his education and give him the ability to be on scholarship here is a great feeling.
Question: Is there any kind of time table that they have given you?
Coach Crean:Not at all, there never really has been a time table, it is a daily process and that’s why there’s a lot of anguish with this because you’re not quite sure. We were hopeful that we would find something before we got to today. I think many others around the country are still waiting to find out or learning this week where their players stand and we were much the same way and fortunately we found out some things yesterday. At 3:28 I found out and by 4:00 he was on the floor so it was a good feeling.
Question: Can you tell us about tonight?
Coach Crean:I think there’s going to be a ton of excitement. People look forward to it. We tried to make it not just an event but a fan fest where there’s a lot of interaction with everybody that’s young and even the older people that want to come and enjoy it. Our players will be here, we’ll have some of the legends of Marquette back here. I think its going to be fun. The posters they put together, the t-shirts, it might look like toyland tonight with people walking out of here. I think they’re going to enjoy it, and what we’re going to do is get into practice. I’ve got about 45-50 minutes of practice planned tonight and then we’ll scrimmage. After the dunk contest and after the 3 point shootout we really want to get into our work and that’s much what today is like, today is a build up for tonight so that we can hit the ground running and its great to have him with us.
Question: When you got the news was it emotional?
Coach Crean:There was so much anguish that it was almost relief. I think for him it was relief, but there was a lot of pride. The greatest thing for me was to take a step back when I had a chance to tell them, to watch him interact with his teammates for a few minutes, and that was nice. I also had to tell him that we’re not completely where we want to be yet but we are a lot further along than we could have been. When you coach these guys you really live and die with a lot of things that go on, and when you get something really good like that for somebody to get him a step closer to where he wants to be it I s a phenomenal feeling for all coaches.
Question: While this was being sorted out his dad was willing to pay his tuition to Marquette, which is obviously expensive, what does that say to you to have that kind of family support behind one of your players?
Coach Crean: You can’t put that into words. When you have someone that believes in you, your staff and most importantly believes in your university, that’s incredible, but I think he has always believed in Lazar as well and that to me speaks volumes. Lazar was a lot of fun to recruit because as many schools as there were recruiting him, and the other trips that he would have planned, especially in the Big East, it was just relationship building from the beginning. His father, Lazar Sr., was a huge part of that and he will be a huge part of his career here. Lazar has enormous opportunities here at Marquette. He has some very special gifts and our job is to try to bring those out and try to build on some of those other things. Right now he might rate his conditioning at a nine where I rate it as a two so maybe we will be up to three by next week. We’ll get to that point but we’re just real proud to have him with us.