Marquette's 2003 Final Four team returns for MU golf outing

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WALES, Wis. (CBS 58) -- For the first time since 2003, the full Marquette team that made a run to the Final Four was in the same place.

"I just like the fact that everybody came back and everybody look good. You see the guys, everybody in shape and stuff. Look good," laughed Dwyane Wade, a consensus All-American in 2003 and former Marquette guard who played two seasons in Milwaukee.

The players returned for the 20th anniversary of that season at the Marquette Athletics annual golf outing.

"Twenty years later, obviously we're all living different lives, but we come back, it's like we never left," said Travis Diener, a former Marquette guard from 2001-2005.

"Coach Crean said it best, I haven't laughed like that in so long," said Wade. "And it's good for us, I went to sleep last night and my soul felt happy."

The 2003 Golden Eagles returned to the Final Four for the first since the program won a championship 26 years earlier against North Carolina 67-59.

"We knew coming in that the 1977 team was the team. Everyone talked about it," said Wade. "I remember us talking about it like, 'we want to be remembered.' It was the 'why not us' mentality."

"They were on a mission before we (freshman) even got there. Just to be one of the youngest guys on the team and see older guys already having expectations of the year that was coming. That was huge for me," said Joe Chapman, a freshman guard on the 2003 team.

As a No. 3 seed, Marquette's run started with a close 72-68 win over Holy Cross where Travis Diener had an at the time career-high 29 points. MU then took down Missouri 101-92 in OT. Next, Marquette took down Pittsburgh 77-74.

In the Elite Eight, Wade had a triple-double with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists against top-seeded Kentucky that sent Marquette to the Final Four. Along the way, everyone had a chance to shine.

"When Dwyane was speaking last night, he touched on that. It wasn't - and he alluded - it wasn’t the Dwyane Wade show. Everyone stepped up in different moments throughout the tournament."

The Final Four run was a springboard for so many of the players, none bigger than Wade. He left Marquette and played 16 seasons in the NBA for the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls winning three NBA titles. He will one day be in the Naismith Hall of Fame but says the tournament will always hold a unique place.

"This is special in a whole different chapter and book in our lives that it doesn't even compare to anything else. Not saying that it's more special than anything else. Nothing compares to the beginning, when you were just a kid with a dream and a hope and you did everything you could to try to accomplish it," said Wade.

"The Final Four, the rings, the memories, those are great memories. But the memories of how we did, which is what's talked about last night and in environments like this, those are the lasting things," said Crean, former Marquette coach from 1999-08.

Those lasting memories stuck with fans as well.

"You can hear people talk about the Final Four. They can tell you what they were doing, where they were," said Wade.

"You know it always goes back to that team and that season," said Diener. "So, I take a lot of pride in that. I think everyone on our team does."

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