Peak of dream season comes for U walk-on

Michael Dougherty

On a day when Rob Schoenrock was playing Ringo Starr to Sam Jacobson’s Lennon and Eric Harris’ McCartney, the senior walk-on had some people in high places wishing he could return to the Gophers next year.
Gov. Arne Carlson, with a $2 billion budget surplus swirling in his head, had one wish as he watched the Gophers’ 59-54 victory over Northwestern at Williams Arena on Saturday afternoon.
“I only wish he was coming back for three more years,” Carlson said of Schoenrock.
The governor, who sits behind Schoenrock’s parents, Larry and Sandy, said he thinks Schoenrock has been wonderful for the Gophers. He even broke down the contributions the 6-foot-8 forward brings to the team.
“If you look at what he does in keeping the offensive center out of the paint — he’s phenomenal,” Carlson said. “We need somebody with some strength, some muscle and some hustle, and he’s got them all. He’s a good ball player.”
Carlson’s sentiments seemed to be part of a whole mystical experience, as everyone associated with Schoenrock used words like dreams and wishes.
“I wish it wasn’t over,” Sandy Schoenrock said. “The University has been wonderful, the players, Clem, the other parents, everyone has been great.”
With averages of 18.5 points and 11 rebounds per game in high school, Schoenrock led Hinckley-Finlayson to a 74-7 record over three years. After high school, he took his talents to Hibbing Community College, where he was an all-state junior college selection for two years.
It took him an extra half a year to receive his associate of arts degree. At that point he decided to attend Minnesota, in pursuit of his dream of playing Division I basketball.
Despite Rob’s ambitions, Larry didn’t really think he would ever get to play.
“He had talked about it, but we had thought it was pretty much just a dream,” he said.
But Schoenrock was relentless in his chase for his ultimate dream. Last season, he was one of the student managers on the Gophers’ Final Four team. In that role, he was able to experience Division I basketball, but not exactly the way he wanted to.
“We never lost a home game last year,” Schoenrock said. “The whole season was great — just being a part of it.”
In the off-season, he worked hard, and with some encouragement from head coach Clem Haskins, he felt he was ready.
“I just wanted the experience of playing here — a chance,” Schoenrock said.
His chance came in the first Big Ten game of the season.
After Miles Tarver and Kyle Sanden fouled out against Purdue, Schoenrock came into a tight game and provided a good inside presence — something the team had lacked for much of the game.
He pulled down four offensive rebounds, including one where he soared across the lane, grabbed a rebound and hit Sam Jacobson with a beautiful no-look pass for a monster jam.
While he had played sparingly during the non-conference season, the Purdue game was the start of his dream — one that even he didn’t think would be so fulfilling.
“I didn’t even know what to dream when I got here, it just all fell into place,” he said. “It’s been way more than I ever dreamed it would be.”
Against Northwestern, Schoenrock started his first Division I game, and he was understandably nervous.
“I can’t really explain it. All the emotions at once — there’s my last game, and then the emotion of the ankle and not being able to play as much as I wanted and how I wanted.”
An ankle injury Schoenrock suffered in the last seconds against Penn State game Feb. 18 kept him out of Minnesota’s recent rematch with Purdue and limited him to only six minutes on Saturday.
The emotions he talked about got him in some early foul trouble, as he picked up two quick ones in the game’s first two minutes while fighting for position with Northwestern’s Evan Eschmeyer.
“It was my first start, so it was more emotional,” he said. “I just let my emotions get the best of me.
“I tried to settle down in the second half, then I picked up another foul, but it wasn’t as aggressive as the first two.”
It is that aggressiveness and the ability to play through injuries that garners a great amount of respect from Haskins.
“Rob Schoenrock played (today) with a bad wheel,” Haskins said. “He’s playing with courage and a big heart, and that’s the way we played all year.”
Jacobson added, “Rob has done a great job. I think a lot of people don’t realize where he’s coming from. He was not highly recruited or anything, but he loves the competition. He had a great opportunity here, and he made the best of it.”
With praise like that coming from the 1997 NCAA Coach of the Year, a player headed for the NBA and the governor of Minnesota, Schoenrock caught the dream he had been chasing.

On a day when Rob Schoenrock was playing Ringo Starr to Sam Jacobson’s Lennon and Eric Harris’ McCartney, the senior walk-on had some people in high places wishing he could return to the Gophers next year.
Gov. Arne Carlson, with a $2 billion budget surplus swirling in his head, had one wish as he watched the Gophers’ 59-54 victory over Northwestern at Williams Arena on Saturday afternoon.
“I only wish he was coming back for three more years,” Carlson said of Schoenrock.
The governor, who sits behind Schoenrock’s parents, Larry and Sandy, said he thinks Schoenrock has been wonderful for the Gophers. He even broke down the contributions the 6-foot-8 forward brings to the team.
“If you look at what he does in keeping the offensive center out of the paint — he’s phenomenal,” Carlson said. “We need somebody with some strength, some muscle and some hustle, and he’s got them all. He’s a good ball player.”
Carlson’s sentiments seemed to be part of a whole mystical experience, as everyone associated with Schoenrock used words like dreams and wishes.
“I wish it wasn’t over,” Sandy Schoenrock said. “The University has been wonderful, the players, Clem, the other parents, everyone has been great.”
With averages of 18.5 points and 11 rebounds per game in high school, Schoenrock led Hinckley-Finlayson to a 74-7 record over three years. After high school, he took his talents to Hibbing Community College, where he was an all-state junior college selection for two years.
It took him an extra half a year to receive his associate of arts degree. At that point he decided to attend Minnesota, in pursuit of his dream of playing Division I basketball.
Despite Rob’s ambitions, Larry didn’t really think he would ever get to play.
“He had talked about it, but we had thought it was pretty much just a dream,” he said.
But Schoenrock was relentless in his chase for his ultimate dream. Last season, he was one of the student managers on the Gophers’ Final Four team. In that role, he was able to experience Division I basketball, but not exactly the way he wanted to.
“We never lost a home game last year,” Schoenrock said. “The whole season was great — just being a part of it.”
In the off-season, he worked hard, and with some encouragement from head coach Clem Haskins, he felt he was ready.
“I just wanted the experience of playing here — a chance,” Schoenrock said.
His chance came in the first Big Ten game of the season.
After Miles Tarver and Kyle Sanden fouled out against Purdue, Schoenrock came into a tight game and provided a good inside presence — something the team had lacked for much of the game.
He pulled down four offensive rebounds, including one where he soared across the lane, grabbed a rebound and hit Sam Jacobson with a beautiful no-look pass for a monster jam.
While he had played sparingly during the non-conference season, the Purdue game was the start of his dream — one that even he didn’t think would be so fulfilling.
“I didn’t even know what to dream when I got here, it just all fell into place,” he said. “It’s been way more than I ever dreamed it would be.”
Against Northwestern, Schoenrock started his first Division I game, and he was understandably nervous.
“I can’t really explain it. All the emotions at once — there’s my last game, and then the emotion of the ankle and not being able to play as much as I wanted and how I wanted.”
An ankle injury Schoenrock suffered in the last seconds against Penn State game Feb. 18 kept him out of Minnesota’s recent rematch with Purdue and limited him to only six minutes on Saturday.
The emotions he talked about got him in some early foul trouble, as he picked up two quick ones in the game’s first two minutes while fighting for position with Northwestern’s Evan Eschmeyer.
“It was my first start, so it was more emotional,” he said. “I just let my emotions get the best of me.
“I tried to settle down in the second half, then I picked up another foul, but it wasn’t as aggressive as the first two.”
It is that aggressiveness and the ability to play through injuries that garners a great amount of respect from Haskins.
“Rob Schoenrock played (today) with a bad wheel,” Haskins said. “He’s playing with courage and a big heart, and that’s the way we played all year.”
Jacobson added, “Rob has done a great job. I think a lot of people don’t realize where he’s coming from. He was not highly recruited or anything, but he loves the competition. He had a great opportunity here, and he made the best of it.”
With praise like that coming from the 1997 NCAA Coach of the Year, a player headed for the NBA and the governor of Minnesota, Schoenrock caught the dream he had been chasing.LBRV50 LBLGLOG LBCD07CE0301 LBCT0B06014B LBAULOG LBMD07CE0301 LBMT142F2621 LBRP LBPJ LBCM LBKY
0ÿÅÿ