Long wait to play for Minnesota finally over for ex-Pitt guard Marcus Carr | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

Long wait to play for Minnesota finally over for ex-Pitt guard Marcus Carr

Associated Press
Minnesota guard Marcus Carr, who played last season for Pitt, is one of three transfers to Minnesota eligible to play this season as Minnesota must replace its two best players in Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey.

MINNEAPOLIS — The waiting for Marcus Carr is over. Minnesota’s new point guard finally gets to take the court.

“He just wants to play someone different,” Gophers teammate Gabe Kalscheur said. “He’s been playing us for a while.”

When Minnesota hosts Cleveland State on Tuesday night in the season opener, Carr will participate in a game that counts for the first time in 20 months after a year of sitting out following his transfer from Pitt.

As frustrating as that was, not being informed his immediate eligibility was denied by the NCAA until the regular season had begun, Carr tried to make the most of his situation by, well, pretending to be someone else.

Top Sports Videos

“Definitely, the most fun was Carsen Edwards. I got to shoot a whole lot of shots in practice,” Carr said.

His assignment with the scout team was usually to emulate the best perimeter player for the upcoming opponent, and the Purdue star who attempted the second-most 3-pointers in the country (380) and led the Big Ten in scoring (24.3 points per game) in 2018-19 was one of Carr’s most critical roles. The Gophers beat the Boilermakers twice in March to cement an at-large bid.

“I still had to give my best effort, still had to go hard even though I’m not even playing,” Carr said. “If I don’t go hard and try to get better, I’m not going to be helping the guys. It just helped me mature a lot.”

The native of Toronto was recruited by Minnesota coach Richard Pitino and his staff out of high school, but Carr picked Pitt. He was second on the team in points and minutes as a freshman in 2017-18 for the Panthers, but they finished on a 19-game losing streak that led to the firing of coach Kevin Stallings and prompted his decision to leave.

Because the staff that recruited him to Pitt was dismissed, Carr, Pitino and company believed they had a strong case for a waiver to play for the Gophers right away. Prominent analysts like Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale agreed. The NCAA issued the rejection letter on Nov. 7, the day after Minnesota’s first game. Carr’s appeal also was denied the following week.

“I tore my ACL in high school so I had a year where I couldn’t play, but that’s kind of different because I know I physically could play last year,” Carr said. “I was physically fine and could very well play basketball, but I wasn’t being allowed to so that was definitely a rough time for me.”

Putting those feelings on the backburner proved to be the best approach. Carr’s attitude made a strong enough impression on the rest of the team that he was voted as a co-captain for 2019-20 with reserve senior forward Michael Hurt.

“I’m a real competitive person, so I like the challenge of knowing that I need people to follow me,” Carr said. “I like to be always setting the example and leading guys up there, and I want to be a big part of us winning.”

One of seven newcomers this season and one of three expected starters who transferred from other programs, joining guard Peyton Willis (Vanderbilt) and forward Alihan Demir (Drexel), Carr will be counted on as heavily as anyone on the roster. Both Kalscheur and Willis, in separate interviews, described him as a “dog” on the court with the type of confidence and tenacity a young team will need to keep up.

“I’ve played a lot of good players in the Big Ten, and he’s going to be really good,” Kalscheur said. “He’s got it all.”

Categories: Sports | US-World | Pitt
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.