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SIDELINED AGAIN : Haupt's Bad Luck Is Back Again--It May End His Basketball Career

November 06, 1986|CHRIS ELLO

SAN DIEGO — For the longest time, Mike Haupt has been unable to avoid bad breaks. He has always been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He got offered a scholarship once and said he wanted to think it over. When he decided to accept, he discovered the school had given it to someone else.

Another time, he was a member of a championship basketball team. But when the team won its title, Haupt was home in bed with a kidney stone.

Until a month ago, it seemed that the bad breaks would never end. And, after a brief spell of good luck, it now seems the bad breaks will never end.

Mike Haupt, a former star at Mira Mesa High School and the second-string guard as a freshman for San Diego State's 1984-85 Western Athletic Conference tournament champions, was going to play basketball again this season for the University of San Diego.

But, now he's not.

Haupt, who had transferred to USD from SDSU after his first season, then sat out last season because of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. rule for transfers, was to become eligible to play again Dec. 21.

Then, while working out with weights in June preparing for his return, he felt a tingling in his leg.

"You know how it feels when your leg falls asleep?" he said. "That's how my left leg felt for an entire month."

Finally, the feeling went away. And, one month ago, Haupt began practicing with his new team. At the time, he felt his troubles were behind him.

"You know, that's just what I was thinking the other day," he said. "I'm practicing and playing basketball again. With all that has happened to me, it just feels great to be playing again."

But sometimes bad luck just won't go away.

Two weeks ago, while running sprints on USD's football field, he felt the same tingling sensation in his leg.

Last week, doctors confirmed that Haupt had a herniated disc. The enlarged disc is causing discomfort in his left leg when he does anything strenuous. He will miss the 1986-87 season. And he may never play basketball again.

"It's truly a shame," USD Coach Hank Egan said.

Egan had expected Haupt to fit nicely into USD's plans this season.

"The hardest thing for me to adjust to is that I feel fine when I'm not doing anything," Haupt said. "I don't feel any pain when I'm just watching practice. But I can't play. I guess it's safe to say that bad luck just won't stay away from me."

He seems to be taking this latest bit of bad fortune pretty well. But, then again, he's had a lot of practice.

Haupt, a 6-foot 5-inch, 190-pound guard, was on San Diego State's 1984-85 team that won the WAC tournament and went to the NCAA tournament--but without Haupt. He was home trying to pass a kidney stone. As luck would have it, Haupt passed his kidney stone two days after the Aztecs were eliminated from the playoffs.

"Can you believe it?" Haupt said. "Just two days later. It was pretty disappointing."

Bad luck is nothing new to Mike Haupt. When he was 3, he spent two weeks in the hospital.

"I had something like double-pneumonia," he said. "All I remember was that I was in the hospital with IVs in both of my arms and legs. I guess they thought I might die."

Haupt played his best basketball in 1984 at Mira Mesa High, leading the Marauders to the City Eastern League championship. He was named The Times' Player of the Year.

However, when the Section 3-A championship game was played that year, Haupt could only look on. His No. 1-ranked Mira Mesa team had been upset in the semifinals by Poway.

Haupt had been recruited before his senior season by then-USD Coach Jim Brovelli, but he didn't want to make a commitment until the end of the season. When he decided to follow in his three brothers' footsteps and attend USD, the scholarship he had been offered was gone.

"So many things were going on that year, what with recruiters calling my house and visiting me at school, I was kind of overwhelmed," Haupt said. "When my scholarship was gone, I just kind of chalked it up to experience.

"Thinking back on it, I'm not bitter at all. It was just one of those things."

Haupt then contacted Smokey Gaines about playing at SDSU. Gaines had also tried to recruit Haupt out of high school. Gaines wanted Haupt, but could not offer him an athletic scholarship because the Aztecs were on NCAA probation.

This was only a minor stumbling block, however, because Haupt's grades were good enough to earn an academic grant.

Haupt walked on and even started one game for the Aztecs. His best game that season came against Egan's USD team in the Sports Arena.

He came in with 10 minutes to play, scored a season-high six points and hit two key free throws down the stretch to wrap up a 57-53 Aztec win.

"They were fouling the freshman at the end," Haupt recalled. "I was lucky enough to come through."

Said Egan: "Looking back, I should have taken him when I first had the chance."

After Brovelli tried to recruit Haupt in November of 1983, he was hired to coach USF. And Egan took over at USD.

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