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Novak Coming on Strong for Missouri Western

Nine months after knee surgery, junior transfer Ariana Novak is leading the Griffons in scoring.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Early in Missouri Western's season, the Griffons leading scorer Ariana Novak is showing why head coach Rob Edmisson is so high on her.

"She's capable of doing more than one thing; she's not one dimensional," Edmisson said. "I think she has the chance to be an impact in the conference as well."

Novak leads Western with 12.3 points per game and pulls down three rebounds each contest, but her career took a turn during her sophomore season at Malcolm X College.

"Unfortunately she tore her ACL in game 15 or 16 of her sophomore year," Edmisson said.

She was averaging more than 19 points and six rebounds per game before the injury sidelined her and steered some big time college recruiters away.

"If she hadn't had that injury, you'd see her playing on TV I think," Edmisson said.

"I was a little upset at first," Novak said, "because I knew I had played hard my freshman year and sophomore year to get those Division I looks."

But that's not getting her down. Growing up playing basketball in Chicago, Novak had toughness built into her DNA.

"Chicago's definitely a rough city. Playing outside, we didn't have too many courts to play inside, so I was playing against boys most of my young years. And then playing AAU was hard, too. It just helped me become a stronger player."

She also got a lift knowing her favorite player went through the same thing one year before. The Chicago Bulls star point guard Derrick Rose tore his ACL in a playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers in 2012.

"That's definitely what I was thinking about the whole time that I was injured," Novak said, "because I had surgery in the same place that he did (Rush University Medical Center in Chicago) so it was really exciting. But I definitely wanted to come back and prove to everybody that I'm the same player I was before I got injured."

Rose missed the entire 2012-2013 season nursing his knee back to health, but Novak got back on the court as soon as she could.

Now just nine months after knee surgery, she's nearing her old form.

"Once she gets 100-percent back to health -- I'd say right now she's probably playing at about 75-percent," Edmisson said, "you're going to see another level than what you've seen already."


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