The brothers Novak

Much of Steve Novak's basketball career has involved his family. His father coached him at Brown Deer High School. During Steve's senior year of high school, he and his brother Chris played on the same team. Steve chose to play college ball at nearby Marquette, where his parents could watch his games.

Steve, now a senior in college, and Chris, a freshman, will play basketball on the same court again tonight at the Bradley Center, but the circumstances will be a little different.

Steve will sport a Marquette jersey, while Chris will suit up in Michigan Tech colors for the Golden Eagles' opening exhibition game of the 2005-'06 season. Steve said he was not worried about experiencing mixed feelings during the game.

"We're both very competitive," Steve said. "I think once the ball is thrown up, it's going to be a game of basketball. It's not going to be bunch of brotherly love out there. … When you're playing against family, the phrase 'kissing your sister' comes to mind."

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, the brothers were actually good friends growing up.

"We got along pretty good," Steve said. "I mean, we were brothers, so we always had arguments. … We've really just been the best of friends our whole lives."

They've also been exposed to the intricacies of basketball their whole lives because of their father Mike's coaching experience.

"After school, me and my brother would get picked up by my mom and taken to our dad's basketball practice," Steve said. "That's where we really got involved in sports."

Since the brothers' basketball experiences have overlapped throughout their childhood and because they got along so well, you would think they developed into similar players on the court.

And you would be wrong.

"Steve has always been an outstanding shooter," Mike said. "Chris is more of a rebounder, more of a roughneck."

This is rather counter-intuitive, given the respective heights of the brothers. While the 6-foot-10 Steve prefers to shoot from the perimeter, the 6-foot-4 Chris likes to score in the paint as an undersized big man.

"We're kind of opposite in that way," Steve said. "I'm not sure how that happened."

Mike will coach his 22nd year of basketball this season at Brown Deer, and his knowledge of the game has rubbed off on his children.

"They've always been around the environment," Mike said. "That type of familiarity has to breed some leadership."

Marquette fans hope Steve Novak will embrace this leadership instinct as he tries to lead an inexperienced team into the Big East Conference this season.

This shouldn't be too difficult, for it's all downhill after he kisses his sister tonight.

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