The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette Men’s Basketball: Walk-on does more than walk

Rob Frozena played sparingly as a walk-on at Marquette but said the time and effort it took was worth it. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.

Behind the glamor of traveling the country on private planes and owning more pairs of Jordan shoes than one knows what to do with, the life of a Marquette basketball walk-on requires just about everything but walking.

The Golden Eagles’ coaching staff, which will hold tryouts Sept. 15, is looking for a player willing to work far beyond his limitations each day despite seeing limited minutes, if any.

Assistant coach Brad Autry described the process as similar to recruiting.

“Can you survive practices, and are you bringing positive things to our team through academics, basketball and community relation?” Autry said. “Are you tough mentally and physically, and are you working every day to be a better person and get better like we all are?”

Rob Frozena, who graduated in 2011 as the program’s only four-year walk-on, said his work level never differed from that of his teammates on scholarship.

“You have to give the same effort, the same intensity,” Frozena said. “And even though you may not have Division I talent, you’re expected to be a Division I basketball player.”

A roster spot is not guaranteed to any prospective walk-on, but the Golden Eagles have just 11 scholarship players eligible this season, leaving room for an extra player who can be used in practice settings.

The staff will choose a walk-on based on needs, and this year that need could be at the point guard position. Junior guard Junior Cadougan is the team’s only point guard with college experience and, while a forward or center would be the best-case scenario, even Autry knows seven-footers don’t walk through the door every day.

“Nobody ever has enough big men,” he joked. “Except (Connecticut).”

The one piece of advice Autry gives to any prospective walk-on is that he must be in peak physical condition. Autry said this helps the player in the tryout, but more importantly, it gives the staff a first impression of the player’s commitment level.

When the tryout begins, Autry and the coaching staff look for two specifics.

“What is your physical condition level, and how do you respond when you get fatigued?” Autry said. “Do you just float off into space, or do you keep fighting through it? As much as you can in a limited scope, you try to get an idea about the kid’s toughness physically and also mentally.”

Should the Golden Eagles add a walk-on, it is then that the work begins.

“You have to be the most selfless person,” Frozena said. “You are going to be expected to go far beyond your comfort zone in every stretch of the imagination. You need to completely devote yourself to the team and making everyone better.”

Despite not taking the traditional route to the team, current players have made the acclimation as a walk-on an easy one, finding common ground as skilled basketball players.

“They’re just guys and they’re really good at basketball,” Autry said. “So typically, if (the walk-on) has the kind of personality we’re looking for, he’s able to move in easily.”

Autry described Frozena as “the best,” citing his ability to do everything the team needed and always being a positive influence and understanding his role. While the work put in most likely will not lead to major minutes, Frozena said the experience and satisfaction of being on the team was enough.

“I loved my role, and I got a sense of satisfaction knowing how hard I was working,” Frozena said. “I wanted the experience, and it’s what I wanted to do. I wanted be a part of it.”

The Golden Eagles hope their next walk-on will have that same attitude and will hit the ground not walking, but running.

“Being a walk-on at this level takes a special kind of person,” coach Buzz Williams said. “The work is very demanding, and the rewards, if any, are limited at best.  Hard work and dedication are without question the biggest attributes necessary for success.”

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *