Haskins boots Minnesota guard off team for violating policy

by Tim Klobuchar

Gophers reserve guard Russ Archambault was dismissed from the men’s basketball team by coach Clem Haskins on Friday, less than a week after he decided not to transfer, his high school coach said Sunday.
“He had talked to Clem about transferring earlier in the year,” said Dave Angell, who coached Archambault at Sartell High School. “I told him that if you stick with that program for four years, your playing time may be limited, but coach Haskins is going to do everything he can for you when you’re done to help you get started with the rest of your life.
“He told me, `That’s just what Coach Haskins told me when I went to talk to him about transferring. I’ve made up my mind, and I’m sticking there.'”
Archambault did not return messages left at his dorm room.
The sophomore was sent home from Champaign, Ill., on Wednesday morning before the Gophers’ game with Illinois for what Haskins said was a violation of team rules. Senior co-captain Eric Harris also broke a team rule and was benched for the first four minutes of that game.
“I have very specific rules that all players in my program must adhere to,” Haskins said. “Russ made some mistakes, and it is unfortunate that it came to this. I will help him in any way I can and wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Haskins has refused to comment on the specific nature of the violation, but in a published report Archambault said he and Harris had left the Gophers’ hotel after their team meeting, a violation of a team rule. Archambault said he and Harris walked four blocks to get snacks.
Archambault said he didn’t agree with his dismissal, saying it was a “poor excuse to get me to leave the team.” He also said “past stuff” probably influenced Haskins’ decision. Angell said he knew of some trouble Archambault had gotten into in the past, but not enough to comment on it.
“Russell and I talked about a few things, and he told me bits and pieces, but it wasn’t something I pressed him for,” Angell said.
“Before he left for Minnesota, I told him some things that fellow students can get away with, you will not because you’re in the limelight.”
Archambault was at Angell’s house on Feb. 1, the last time Angell talked to him, and Archambault expressed some frustration over his lack of playing time.
In his second-to-last game as a Gopher, against Wisconsin, Archambault played less than a minute, turned the ball over once and did not return. For the season, Archambault averaged 14 minutes and 4.5 points per game. He will keep his scholarship until the end of the school year.
“He’s obviously made some mistakes along the way,” Angell said. “But he’s a really good kid. Every time he comes back through here, he stops in, and there’s a lot of kids that won’t do those things.”
Angell said he has left four or five messages on Archambault’s answering machine since Friday, and none have been returned.
“I just left a message on the machine that said, `We’re proud of you, we love you, and don’t make any stupid decisions right now,'” Angell said.