Nov. 24, 2008
By Michael Wittliff
The role of walk-on isn't as glamourous or as high profile as a spot in the starting line-up or an incoming five-star recruit. Nonetheless, any walk-on is just as important to the success of a basketball program. Sophomore guard Robert Frozena, from Sherwood, Wis., is entering his second year at Marquette after walking on to the team last season and understands the role he plays on the squad.
"I know Coach Buzz (Williams) has said to me a number of times that I have improved at being a teammate," said Frozena. "As a walk-on that probably is your number one thing, being a great teammate. Your not looking to get minutes unless you are outstanding. Definitely not the thing I am looking for, just being a good teammate and helping the guys."
After seeing action in seven games during the 2007-08 season, Frozena has already played in the two of this season's first three games and recorded a rebound in each.
"I'm not looking to get in there and get a ton of minutes and that sort of stuff," Frozena said. "When I do get in there at the end of the games all I'm looking to do is enjoy the few minutes that I am on the court because it is a fun experience."
A honorable mention all-state selection as a senior at St. Mary Central High School, after averaging 24.0 points per game and helping the school to a conference championship, Frozena probably could have gone to a Division II or III institution and been a key contributor. Although he acknowledges basketball as his best sport, the three-sport high school athlete claims that he loves being on the baseball diamond as much as the basketball court.
"Baseball wasn't my best sport, basketball was always my best sport, but baseball was the one I loved the most growing up," said Frozena. "For basketball I was looking to go to a few D-III schools but I got a full scholarship here for academics. So I decided to come here and give it a shot. $27,000 a year, I'll take that any day."
The Mark L. Schmidt Memorial Scholarship, which Frozena was awarded, is a full tuition scholarship given to a Marquette student based on high school grades and extracurricular activities, among other things. Frozena is focused on academics but he has yet to declare a major.
"I'm leaning towards a finance major with a math minor, possibly a double major with marketing also."
Frozena had a call made on his behalf by a family friend to former Marquette coach Tom Crean last season and after walk on tryouts and a few injuries, Frozena was added to the roster where he would develop a bond with fellow walk-on Tom Brice.
"Tommy and I became great friends and he showed me the ropes," said Frozena. "Becoming a walk on is not the easiest of tasks, me coming on in the middle of the season, he could have been upset after he worked so hard and I just came in, but he was really accepting of me and a good teacher."
Brice's thoughts on his former protege echo Frozena's sentiments.
"Rob is a hard worker and really fast learner," Brice said. "He does whatever it takes to make the team better. A lot of people don't really know what that is as a walk-on, but he comes in and works hard on his game, just like the other guys do, in the weight room and in the practice gym. He knows what his role is and he is very humble. He realizes that there was this opportunity given to him and he is making the most out of it by giving everything he can."
Frozena understands his daily responsibilities to the team and takes great pride in everything he does.
"My typical role is more of an intellectual one, more of a basketball I.Q.-type thing," explained Frozena. "At practice I am constantly helping the guys know where they have to go in the offense. My role is more knowing what has to be done so I can help the other guys. Just looking out for the areas that the guys can get better."
As the season has begun Frozena's responsibilities have increased. Just as former Marquette great Dwyane Wade did during his redshirt season, Frozena has the task of mimicking the upcoming opponents.
"With the season starting, my role is increasing because of the scout team," he said. "I get in there and try to give them a look on offense and defense. My role stepped up because I have to learn the other team's offenses."
Frozena really has enjoyed his time spent with the team thus far and credits that to the people he spends most of his time with when he is not in classes.
"I enjoy the experience and I love basketball, but I think the guys and the coaches have kept me motivated," Frozena said. "The guys are a group of characters. I enjoy being around them. They accept me. I accept them. We have fun together."
Starting his second season at Marquette, Frozena still has over two years remaining, were he to exhaust his eligibility on the Al McGuire Court, but cherishes every moment he has as a Golden Eagle.
"It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that not a lot of people will say that they had the oppurtunity to do," he said. "I am just living in the moment and taking advantage of it."