Would-be stars take their shots

Jim Schortemeyer

The search for the next Hosea Crittenden began Monday morning at Williams Arena.
Would-be Gophers arrived at 7 a.m. for the 13th annual walk-on tryout with gym bags over their shoulders and beat-up hightops on their feet.
But these weren’t basketball novices. Most played three or more years on their varsity high school teams, and some — like freshman Dan Peterson — had played for coach Clem Haskins on the Minnesota Select team.
Peterson, like most of the others trying out, realized his chances for making the squad were slim.
“Well, I guess just for that chance,” Peterson said. “Then I won’t have to say that I didn’t try out and give it a chance.”
Others were like Troy Wheeler, a freshman from New Mexico. Wheeler had never met with Haskins or most of the players present and had no clue what to expect.
Before the 20 walk-ons took the floor, most opted to sit in the stands to watch the varsity squad’s workout. When it was the walk-ons’ turn to hit the floor, a few of the varsity members returned the favor and watched from the steps leading to the dressing room.
Seated next to those steps was Haskins, who admitted it would take a rare talent to make the team this year.
“We have 18 players on the team at the time, so I don’t think we’ll take anyone today,” Haskins said. “Right now they might not make it, (but) those freshman can keep working like Hosea Crittenden. Hosea’s a legend here. He wound up being a star.”
So with finding the next Jermaine or Jason Stanford out of the picture, Haskins stayed out of the way while his assistant coaches Bobby Jones and Charles Cunningham ran the tryout. Haskins stressed the most important thing wasn’t the quality of players found at the yearly tryout.
“The most important thing is getting as many young people out here as we can,” Haskins said. “Our first year we had three or four guys show up, and I don’t think two of those were even in school.”
The tryout only lasted 45 minutes, but Haskins said he saw a few “nice” players who piqued his interest for next year.