COLUMBIA — Last year, Andy Rosburg had to sneak onto the court inside Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse. This year, he returned to Allen Fieldhouse as a member of the Missouri men's basketball team.
As a player on Missouri's club basketball team in 2010-11, Rosburg attended a recreational league's regional tournament in Lawrence, Kan., that was held in Kansas' recreation center. Between games, Rosburg and his teammates decided to try and explore the storied building.
No. 2 seed Missouri (30-4)
vs. No. 15 seed Norfolk State (25-9)
WHEN: 3:40 p.m. Friday
WHERE: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM, 100.5 FM; KCMQ/96.7 FM
The Missouri men's basketball team is inviting fans to Mizzou Arena for a sendoff celebration for the Tigers. Coach Frank Haith will address supporters at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday on the south side of Mizzou Arena before the team boards its bus for Omaha, Neb.
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"I'm kind of, I don't know, maybe a little mischievous. I pulled on a few doors to see if any would open, and one happened to be open," Rosburg said.
The dance team was practicing on the empty court.
Rosburg has come a long way from having to sneak into Allen Fieldhouse. Now, he's a full-fledged Tigers basketball player, taking part in all the action.
He walked on to the team in October after accompanying his younger brother, Ryan Rosburg, on a recruiting visit. He wanted to be there to support his brother and also get a glimpse of the inside of Mizzou Arena, including the weight room and the locker room, which he had never seen before. In his three years at Missouri, he had always been a fan in the stands.
"About halfway through the day we sat down to lunch with all the coaches and assistant coaches, and I don't think they realized that the kid in high school they were looking at has got a 6-8 brother in college who plays a little basketball. They suggested, 'Hey, why don't you come and try and come to walk-on tryouts?'' Andy Rosburg said. "I came to tryouts, and I guess I must have impressed them enough to give me an opportunity to play with them."
Andy Rosburg played all kinds of sports growing up — basketball, baseball, soccer, football — and in his pee-wee league pictures for all of those sports, he said he was always a foot taller than everyone else. His basketball career started in kindergarten when parents at his school assembled a team. His team didn't suffer its first loss until third grade.
"I wasn't crying, I don't think, but I remember kids were crying, like 'This isn't supposed to happen to us,'" he said with a chuckle. "But it's part of the game, and we had to learn then."
At Marquette High School in suburban St. Louis, Andy Rosburg amassed 250 rebounds in one season and averaged 9.6 rebounds per game during his senior season. His high school coach Shane Matzen said Rosburg played with finesse and called him one of the most intelligent players he has ever coached.
Even though he hasn't played for the Mustangs in almost four years, Andy Rosburg stays in touch with the Marquette coaching staff and the team on which his younger brother played.
"He's such a genuine guy," Matzen said. "It always touches me when the guys stay in touch and remember us."
Andy Rosburg's busy schedule kept him from seeing a single game his brother played this season, but during Marquette's run to the state semifinals, Andy Rosburg would tweet words of encouragement to his former coaches and his younger brother.
"We've always been close," Andy Rosburg said of his relationship with his brother. "It started with him coming to my basketball games when I was the older one, and he would be shooting on the side, trying to do things that I would do in games. When I went to college, he was in high school. I wasn't on a team anymore, so I was more than glad to be helping him and giving him tips. I'm glad all his hard work has paid off for him."
Ryan Rosburg signed with Missouri and will begin play for the Tigers next season, but he won't get to play with his older brother. After graduating from MU's school of engineering, Andy Rosburg will begin working for Anheuser-Busch.
"It's kind of cool they're not going to have to fight over that No. 44," Matzen said. "I'm sure he'll hand it down to him."
But Andy Rosburg will still be wearing that No. 44 as Missouri faces Norfolk State in the second round of NCAA tournament play Friday in Omaha, Neb. He said he's incredibly thankful for the time that he's has seen on the court with Missouri this season.
"It's just crazy to me because I wasn't expecting any of it. To be put in any amount of time is just a cherry on top," Andy Rosburg said after seeing time in Missouri's quarterfinal round of the Big 12 tournament against Oklahoma State.
The tight-knit Missouri team, especially the seniors, have taken Andy Rosburg in and made him a part of the team this season. He has gotten especially close with senior Laurence Bowers, who he rooms with on road trips, and his teammates joke with him about the crazy neon-colored socks he wears under his ankle braces.
"It's been quite an experience. I was not expecting my senior year of college to be like this. I was expecting it to be much more relaxed, but it's been a good busy," Andy Rosburg said. "It's great that we're having such a successful season so far and being a part of this all. I'm just enjoying it while I can."