Wally Ellenson hasn’t played a single minute in the Big Ten this season. And apparently, he didn’t like that.
Ellenson has decided to leave the men’s basketball team, the University announced Tuesday afternoon. The Rice Lake, Wis., native will instead join the men’s track and field team full time.
Ellenson is a world-class high jumper. He won a gold medal at the 2013 Pan American Junior Championships last summer. And before that, the sophomore tied for eighth at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The Gophers needed an interior offensive presence, and Mo Walker needed a significant role.
But the match seemed to fit as perfectly as peanut butter and ketchup. Walker had lost 60 pounds in the offseason and showed glimpses of offensive production, but he hadn’t done it on a consistent basis — not even close.
Walker’s early college career certainly didn’t suggest that stardom was on the way. He’d played two seasons, one cut short by an injured knee, the other plagued by the fact that he was overweight.
It took one game this month for Gophers head coach Richard Pitino to notice the alarming trend fans have stewed over for the past few seasons: Come February, the Gophers tense up, and the season goes awry.
On Sunday, the Gophers fell 55-54 at Williams Arena to Northwestern — their second straight loss to a team ranked below them in the conference standings.
It wasn’t the loss that worried Pitino, though.
“They’re a good program. They’re a good team. They’re doing a lot of really good things in the league,” he said.