Seven returning athletes, four new recruits — three of whom are from Europe — and one transfer, and yet the CSU women’s basketball team needs to fill up more roster space.
Last week the Lady Rams held an open tryout consisting of eight student hopefuls, in order to perhaps find a few more players for their roster.
According to head coach Kristen Holt, the NCAA allows up to 15 scholarship roster spots for women’s basketball.
“We’re allowed to have 15 scholarship athletes on our team and this year we only have 12,” Holt said. “As soon as you have a couple of injuries, then your numbers are down, and we need people to practice and help us out.”
The athletic department declined to release the names of the athletes who were asked to participate or who were offered a spot on the team. The team plans to release names later this week. In past years, according to Holt, the team did not use walk-on athletes. But this year may be different because of a shortage of players.
“Some years we’ve kept no walk-ons,” Holt said. “This may be a little bit of an unusual year just because typically our roster is filled with scholarship -recruited athletes.”
The team did place some fliers around campus, but most walk-on hopefuls are gathered via word of mouth.
“Usually if people are interested in being a part of your program, they’ll call and ask if you’re having try outs,” Holt said.
According to Holt, these athletes play a critical role for the team, even though they may not actually play.
“What we’re looking for from these kids that we add is to help us out in practice and to be a positive asset to what we’re doing,” Holt said. “If it works out that they develop and they get better, they might get some playing time. But if not, I’ve told them that they should come into this with the idea that they’re not necessarily going to play.”
The tryout process includes background checks, including calls with coaches and people connected to the athlete, along with the expected physical basketball tryout.
“Most of the kids were kids from here in Colorado and played high school ball and had done well and accomplished a lot,” Holt said.
Holt said that once they’ve evaluated what positions they have filled and what they need to fill, the team will bring back athletes if they fit the criteria for making the team.
“We have to make some decisions about what have and what we have need for,” Holt said.
Holt also added, “It’s a huge time commitment, for a walk-on especially. The fact that they’re not getting the finances like our scholarship athletes, that’s a big commitment.”
For senior forward Juanise Cornell, open tryouts allow players that may not have been recruited to show they belong.
“I think most schools hold open tryouts,” Cornell said in a phone interview. “I think it’s good that our team is holding open tryouts.”
As for the role walk-ons have with the team, Cornell said they could have a positive impact as long as they do not cause distraction.
“The most important thing is (walk-ons) to come and not be a distraction,” Cornell said. “As long as they can come in and be positive, I think they can be an asset.”
Sports writer Johnny Hart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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