Reusse: Track and field now, more basketball later for Gophers' Ellenson

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 23, 2013 - 12:05 PM
hide

Gopher's Wally Ellenson tried to save a ball going out of bounds.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Richard Pitino was hired as Minnesota’s basketball coach on April 3. The first order of business in that situation is to start meeting with the players scheduled to return for the next season.

Pitino’s meeting with freshman Wally Ellenson included this information: Ellenson was competing as a high jumper on the track and field team.

“He didn’t understand at first,” Ellenson said. “He’s OK now. We’re going to talk after the season.”

Ellenson was a high-level basketball recruit out of Rice Lake, Wis. He said one reason for choosing Minnesota was an agreement that he could participate in two sports. The basketball coach signing off on that, Orlando “Tubby” Smith, is now working in Lubbock, Texas.

The two-sport schedule did put Ellenson through three hectic weeks at the end of April and into May. The daily schedule included classes in the morning, track practice, weight training and team workouts with basketball, and tutoring/study sessions.

“You’re tempted to sleep in in the morning, but you can’t do it,’’ he said.

Ellenson said “basketball is definitely my first love,” but he’s also motivated by the individual challenge of track and field.

“It’s just you,” he said. “In high jumping, you either get over the bar or you don’t. There’s nobody else to take the credit or the blame.”

Ellenson’s first event of the season was the Hamline Invitational on April 6. He cleared 7 feet, 1 ½ inches, a half-inch better than his top mark as a Rice Lake senior.

“They didn’t have a jersey for me, so they didn’t count it officially,’’ Ellenson said. “But it was a meet, and I competed, and I cleared the height, so 7 feet, 1½ is my career best.”

The official bests for Ellenson this spring are a pair of 6-11 ½ leaps — good for fifth place in the Drake Relays and third place in the Big Ten championships. That puts him in the delegation of 25 Gophers (in 13 events) who will be competing in the NCAA West preliminaries starting Thursday in Austin, Texas.

“It’s going to be great going back there,” Ellenson said.

He was in Austin with the Gophers basketball team two months ago, first for the 83-63 rout of UCLA, then for the 78-64 loss to Florida.

Ellenson didn’t play in either game. He played a total of 48 minutes in nine games, with 29 of those minutes in the Big Ten. Those are numbers you expect to see from a walk-on, not a touted freshman recruit.

The 6-5 lefthander broke his shooting hand before the first exhibition game. He missed 12 nonconference games. The expectation among the Dinkytown faithful was that Ellenson would redshirt.

That didn’t happen. It was advertised as a decision insisted on by Ellenson and his family, and against the wishes of Tubby.

“Looking back at how much I played, it would’ve been smart to redshirt,” Ellenson said. “They [Smith and his staff] told me one thing and that’s not what happened. Obviously, I wasn’t going to pull off my redshirt to play 48 minutes.”

This will look more like bitterness in print than it sounded in a conversation with Ellenson. What’s his lingering view of Tubby?

“He’s a good person,” Ellenson said. “As a coach, he’s demanding and taught me there’s a lot more to the college game than shooting the ball. I don’t have bad feelings, but there’s no doubt, this coaching change is going to be good for me as a player.

“[Pitino’s] style fits me, without a doubt. I’m better when a team is playing fast.”

Ellenson sees himself as a jump shooter and finisher on the break. He’ll also have to show the ability to play pressure defense to earn big minutes, if Pitino’s vision of what he wants in the Gophers actually comes to fruition.

The departure of Joe Coleman should provide more opportunity for Ellenson to start at small forward or as a third guard. Did Coleman’s decision to transfer come as a surprise?

“No … you’re on a team, you hear how players feel about a situation,” Ellenson said.

For now, Ellenson’s team is track and field, where there aren’t minutes to worry about … only the bar that menaces in front of you.

“One goal is to finish in the top 12 and qualify for the NCAA meet next month in [Eugene] Oregon,” Ellenson said. “What I’d really like, though, is to clear 7-foot-3 before this season is over.”

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays at AM-1500. preusse@startribune.com



 

  • related content

  • Wally Ellenson played only 48 minutes for the Gophers basketball team as a freshman. He thinks new coach Richard Pitino will be good for his development.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco 2 Bottom 8th Inning
Kansas City 7
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Houston 90 FINAL
Orlando 89
Brooklyn 86 FINAL
Boston 100
Washington 100 FINAL
New York 103
Cleveland 92 FINAL
Memphis 96
Minnesota 110 FINAL
Milwaukee 91
Atlanta 117 FINAL
San Antonio 107
Portland 37 3rd Qtr
LA Lakers 50
Phoenix 35 2nd Qtr 10:25
LA Clippers 33
Toronto 0 Postponed
Ottawa 0
Philadelphia 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Washington 2 2nd Prd 1:15
Edmonton 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Chivas USA 0 2nd Half 15:00
Real Salt Lake 2
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close