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Where are they now? Dusty Rychart

07/31/2007, 12:00am CDT
By Nadine Babu

Where Are They Now?

If you asked many Gopher Fans who their favorite Gopher of the past decade was, an overwhelming number of them will immediately answer "“ Dusty Rychart. Dusty is not flashy or high profile, but he was workhorse and the backbone of the Minnesota Gophers from 1997-2002. He withstood an academic scandal, a coaching change, sanctions, numerous players coming and going, yet despite this still came out on top. I researched high and low to try to find some dirt on this beloved player, and could not find one negative word that anyone has ever said about his character, work ethic, or hustle. It's no wonder why he is a fan favorite; you will not find many more likable, competitive or hard working players than Dusty. Rychart just recently added another accomplishment to his resume; he led his Brisbane Bullets to become NBL Champions. Dusty shares his thoughts with GopherHole on the scandal, his career, former teammates, and even his love life.

GH: How did your time at The U both as a student and an athlete prepare you for life's endeavors?
DR: The time at the U was a life changing experience both on and off the court. Off of the court it was the first time in my life that I was on my own. I had to grow up really fast as there wasn't a mother or father taking care of me cooking and cleaning. I had to learn to manage my time with basketball and studying. It was overwhelming at first and I was close to quitting and going home two weeks into it all, but a talk with my parents quickly changed my mind. As for on the court, it was totally different level than I was used to. The athletes were quicker, smarter and stronger for someone like me, coming from Northern Minnesota. You quickly learn that an athlete on the range isn't an athlete on the National level in basketball so I had to learn how to be effective in different ways. These were all hurdles in my life that I had to overcome. It wasn't easy, but it taught me that if I work hard and never give up anything is possible.

GH: Thinking back to your playing days, what are the most memorable games?
DR The most memorable game for me was probably the most non-memorable game for all Gopher Fans. It was the 1999 NCAA Tourney game vs. Gonzaga. That was the game after the scandal came out but it was the game that gave me the chance to prove that I deserved to be on the court and could play at a high level. The 2001 comeback vs. Indiana from 13 down with 3 minutes left is another.

GH: Speaking of the scandal, were you ever offered any kind of academic assistance by Coach Haskins?
DR: Nope. I was never offered help by anyone. I was offered tutoring by the college but that was it. I did my own work.

GH: How did the other player get involved in that? Was it forced upon them, or just offered under the table?
DR: To be honest I didn't even see it happening around me. I didn't know that guys like Antoine Broxsie (roommate freshman year), Kevin Clark, Jason Stanford or Miles Tarver where involved in anything like that. Maybe I was too young and naive but it shocked me as much as it did everyone else.

GH: Even though you didn't know about it at the time, what were your thoughts on it? On one hand, your basketball career took off as a result, on the other hand - you were working your butt off and others were receiving "assistance."
DR: I was just shocked about the whole thing. As we all know some athletes aren't smart enough to be in college, but have amazing athletic talents and need a little extra assistance. Then there are those that can do it but are too lazy. That's what I didn't get about the whole thing. Going in you get the speech about doing your own work or you might jeopardize your career, and most of the guys just thought that it couldn't happen to them, but it did. I didn't care too much about others getting help and I had to work my butt off. I can't control what others do so I just did what I came there to do and that was work hard both on and off of the court.

GH: In your last BT game against Illinois, you pulled down one of the biggest boards I've ever seen... how did it affect you to see that game slip away?
DR: That game will always stick in the back of my mind. If we win we probably go to the NCAA Tourney. But up by 4 with 30 seconds to go Frank Williams hits that 3 and then they full court press us while Kevin Burleson throws the ball behind me and Illinois wins the game. You don't even know how that 10 seconds plays in my mind. That ball rolling out of bounds looked like it was in slow motion, but I was moving even slower. I wanted to win that game so bad and make it back the NCAA again. That never happened but you learn. I always thought that when I made the NCAA my freshman year that we would make there at least once again but we never did. That was probably the saddest day of my Gopher career.

GH: What did you learn from that experience?
DR: You never take anything for granted. You never know if you will get that same opportunity ever again so you have to make the most of your experiences.

GH: Who was the best teammate you played with? What made them so good?
DR: The best teammate that I have played with was probably JB Bickerstaff. Just because he was a smart player and just wanted to win, played tough defense, played hard and made others around him better. He was a great roommate as well... Even though he could never beat me in 1 on 1 or Mario Kart. ;)

GH: How did Coach Haskins differ from Coach Monson? How did they affect your career?
DR: Those two were as different as fire and ice. I mean both coaches helped me out with my career and made me who I am today so I owe them both a lot. Coach Haskins was more like a father figure to me, and the only man in America that saw or thought that I had some talent. He gave me a shot to walk on where no other college in Division 1 program in the country did. He also taught me a lot on the court and teaching me to be a smarter player. And he also had so much passion for his players and would do anything for them. Coach Monson on the other hand was way different. When he came in it didn't seem that he wanted any of Coach Haskin's guys and that was hard my first year. I soon got used to Coach Monson, but he wasn't as much a father figure to me or a teacher on the court, rather he just gave me the opportunity to play and play big minutes which made me better. He allowed me to make mistakes on the court and still play me and that was huge for me as a walk on.

GH: Who was the best opponent in college that you ever matched up with?
DR: Personally for me it was Andre Hutson from Michigan State. Just a solid player that did it all. Smart, tough, played hard and very consistent.

GH: Word on the street is that before your last home game, you did something special for the band members. What was that?
DR: I just let the band know that even if I probably never talked to many of them, they were appreciated by me my whole career. So I sent them a letter and just said that I valued their support and loyalty at games even when we were losing. I wish we had a committed band at the pro level. I just wanted to show some appreciation.

GH: Which former players and coaches do you keep in contact with, and are you the closest to?
DR: I keep in touch with a lot of guys: Antoine Broxsie, John Aune, Mitch Ohnstad, Travarus Benett, Kerwin Fleming, Quincy, Coach Haskins, Coach Peterson, Coach Monson, Rick Rickert, Managers Dave Ross, Ryan James, Mike Dale, Terrance Simmons, Mike Bauer, JB Bickerstaff, Brent Haskins, Manager Marc Devoe, Trainer Roger Schipper and Strength Bod Rohode Jeff Hagen, Brent Lawson, Steve Esselink, Kyle Sanden, Aaron Robinson, Tyree Bolden"¦should I keep going?

GH: No. Who are you really close to - that you would seek advice from?
DR: Seek advice from? Hmmmm...Coach Haskins or Coach Peterson, Roger Schipper, Bob Rohde, and Quincy Lewis.

GH: Did the hiring of Tubby Smith surprise you? What do you think he'll do differently from the previous coaches?
DR: Yeah I was a little surprised that Minnesota got such a high profile coach. I think that he will be good for the program, and I hope that he can restore the passion and love of Gopher basketball, pack The Barn, and make it the hottest ticket in town, once again.

Dusty's career Gopher stats
DNP - Redshirt
GH: There is constantly an ongoing debate about internet message boards, such as GopherHole - do you think they play a role in deterring or attracting a recruit?
DR: I sure do. I know when I was playing or deciding on coming to the U of M I would read the forums and see what the fans would say. Everyone today is on the Internet chat sites, seeing what people are saying, and also adding their two cents as well. If you are a recruit you want to see what people are saying and if the recruit doesn't, I am pretty sure someone from their posse will want to find out and then tell them what is going on or give them advice.

GH: Did you read/post as a Gopher? Or now, as a professional player?
DR: I was a GopherHole reader when it first came out in 1997. My family and friends would read it and tell me what was being said. I would check it out from time to time and most things were positive, but some would be negative so I decided not to read any media at all or watch anything on the news. I didn't want to ride the media roller coaster of highs and lows. So stopped reading after freshman year.

GH: Have you ever posted?
DR: Yeah, I am guilty of that a few times. Only when I was getting bashed. I would say a few positives things. Try to make me look good. Haha.

GH: You seemed to be a constant in all of your years as a Gopher, how was it having some highly recruited players come and go, like Rick Rickert and Joel Przybilla?
DR: It was tough not only to deal with the loss or the addition of someone new but keeping my spot as a player while always being recruited over. Playing with Joel was something special because he was a freak and was just so dominant but that didn't last too long. Then after the scandal a lot of players lasted just one more year and that was tough because I always dreamed of playing with the same guys for my career. Then my junior and senior years were the most challenging because I knew that the coaches thought they needed someone more athletic and stronger than me. They brought in Kerwin Fleming and Travarus Bennett my junior year and then Rick and Jerry Holman my senior year.

GH: It seems like your teams had a ton of talent, and you could have achieved a lot more - do you feel like there were problems with the chemistry?
DR: Yeah chemistry is a huge recipe for success, and that isn't what we had. Guys just had their own agendas most of the time so it was hard to get everyone on the same page. My senior year we had a lot of talent and could have done so much more but just didn't work.

GH: Do you think that had a lot to do with guys more concerned about the NBA than winning?
DR: You know what's the funniest thing about playing at a high Division 1 level - every guy on our team thought they were going to the NBA. I always had that dream of making it but lets be realistic. I am 6'7" on good days, and cant jump ...the only spot for me in the NBA is water boy or mop up boy at the end of the courts.

GH: What is life like playing hoops overseas? How does it differ from the minor leagues in the states?
DR: Life overseas is tough. People think that I have the greatest life, but outside of basketball it's tough. You are alone and don't have anyone around such as family or friends. You learn about who you are real quick but if you can last you build character and adapt. There are many times I sit here and ask myself is it really worth missing out on my friends and family's lives back home. The difference from Minor leagues in America and overseas is money. You really can't make much money in America unless it's the NBA. My whole goal for playing ball is to set me up for a good nest egg. If I was not making money I wouldn't do it. Some people say why wouldn't you do it for love? I would, but you would be finding me playing pick-up at Athletic Clubs instead for the love.

GH: You speak of a nest egg...since you are no longer a poor college student, what has been your biggest splurge/treat for yourself or your family?
DR: Hahaha, you are talking to a guy that is good with his money. Most would call me cheap! I just bought a house and that is about all that I have spent anything on. I don't spend much time at home so it doesn't make sense to buy a nice car or anything special just yet. So I invest in a lot of things, I have a few things going, and working on an MBA. Once I finally settle down and find a home I will definitely splurge on something.

GH: You were NBL Champions this past season. How does that rank in your list of accomplishments?
DR: That would rank top 5 in my basketball career... It was an awesome feeling winning it out here. I have played 5 years in the league without a ring and if you don't win people think that it's your fault and with that win I can now say that I am a winner. I hope that we can repeat or 3-peat.

GH: What were the other four?
DR: 1. Gonzaga game. 2. Winning the Conference title in high school. 3. First state appearance in high school for our school. 4. Nit Championship College. 5. NBL Championship, in that order just because those happen first, but surely just as good of a feeling than anything.

GH: Would you ever want to get into coaching?
DR: I would love to go into coaching at a high Level where the players want to learn and already have some good skills. I would only go into coaching at the entry level with young kids if it was my own kid playing. Coaching is so stressful and I don't think that I want to be that stressed out all the time. So I would say no at this time of my life but you never know how things will change. If the right opportunity arises then we will see.

GH: What is going on with your personally "“ are you married, single, do you have any children that you know about?
DR: Personally I am single. I guess that is by choice, but the reason for that is that I move around way too much. I don't think that it is fair for someone to follow me around the world and have them put their lives on hold. As for babies, I don't have of those. Maybe someday when I find someone to settle down here I come"¦hahahhahahahahahahahahaha!

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Tag(s): Where Are They Now?