A Column of Enchantment: Robert Upshaw, URI and Honestly Fixing College Hoops

Posted by Joseph Nardone on January 29th, 2015

Looks like another week of people getting on their soapboxes to tell the world how horrible other people are. Stuff like that happens to be one of the things I hate about social media. You know, some guy or gal behind a keyboard pounding away on some keys to tell other people who aren’t even in remotely the same position as the person or group of people who they are bashing how horrible they are. Good times, right? A lot of the soap-boxing is going on in the world of the NFL where Marshawn Lynch is getting scorned by old white guys for not doing what they want him to do. But this is a college basketball column (kind of), so let’s move on to another weird situation going on in that sport. This one has to deal with an ultra-talented big man who also happens to have first-round NBA Draft talent.

Robert Upshaw (USA Today Images)

Robert Upshaw (USA Today Images)

Robert Upshaw has been dismissed by the Washington Huskies for violating team rules. The seven-footer has no one to blame for this but himself. Between his rocky stay with Fresno State and his seemingly tumultuous time with Washigton Upshaw, reportedly, has failed multiple drug tests. That is completely on him. Not a soul to blame, regardless of his drug of choice, for not learning to make better decisions. However, none of us “really” know this kid. Few probably know what personal demons he might have or what insecurities come with being a seven-foot human in a six-foot-ish world. Passing judgment on him over reports that aren’t that detailed just seems silly to me. But man, you have a hot take about people choosing drugs over money (or here, the potential of money), so get to your keyboard!

People do realize that is not the choice people are making though, right? It is not as if Upshaw or any other athlete is thinking about losing out on millions of dollars over one more hit of weed or whatever. Not to mention, in Upshaw’s case, he is a kid — a kid in college. He probably thinks he is invincible. I know I did in my early twenties. I don’t know what you were doing in college or in your early twenties, but I doubt you were spending your Friday nights giving blankets out to the homeless. I mean, if you were, then give yourself a gosh slam gold star. These athletes live in a microscope that no one on the outside could even comprehend. Maybe we should stop pretending we can.

There’s also some dirty little code stuff going on whenever someone gets in trouble over getting busted for weed or drugs or booze. People mostly don’t seem to think the actual offense is that bad, but that the person who violated should be punished. Here is a question I have for that: If it is weed, which most people think is not that horrible of a thing, why are you so mad at that person? Do you just want him to be punished for breaking a stupid rule or do you care about that rule so much in the first place? Answer that question honestly because it will tell you a lot about yourself. If you honestly care that much about the letter of the law then I guess it is what it is. But if you’re the person who doesn’t really care about the rule but still wants the person punished, why? Why is punishment always the preferred method instead of getting people help? Then again, if it is something so blah that you don’t think they actually need help (like weed not being addictive), why are you so mad? Don’t know if you can tell what I did there, but basically you’re all a bunch of scumbuckets for judging other people and wanting punishment for punishment’s sake.

One more thing to touch on as far as Upshaw goes. The idea that he might slip out of the first round of the NBA Draft is almost laughable to me. He has first-round talent, you see. If a team is picking between the #20-#30 range and all it needs to round out its team is a rim-protecting big man, Upshaw would be a perfect fit. Provided he stays out of trouble until the draft, I just can’t see him falling to the second-round. NBA teams will pretend to care about the morality play that is people judging other people from a distance, but if Upshaw grades so much higher on their boards than other players, especially ones who might not even make a roster, he is going in the first-round.

Oh, and it is also a wee bit funny how we all seem to agree that Upshaw is better off going to the D-League to develop as a player, but that the move would hurt his draft stock. So, let me get this straight. Traditionally big men take longer to develop than other basketball players. Upshaw may have the opportunity to continue to keep developing while prepping for the NBA by playing in the D-League. Yet, because the mystery of the skills of the big man will become less of a mystery, his stock will drop. I get it. I do because that is just the way NBA scouting works, but what a strange, strange way to go about evaluating talent.

—————

I want to do a real quick hit on Rhode Island basketball before I hurl 1,000 more words worth of bad jokes at you. The Rams recently landed former Memphis player Kuran Iverson. This is a big deal for so many reasons, outside the obvious fact that it will make Rhode Island a much better team when he becomes eligible, it also changes the dynamic of the A-10. There’s something far more important going on in Rhode Island, though. A member of the famed Hurley family is putting it together in all sorts of awesome ways.  Not to mention that the Rams, which are currently 13-5, will return leading scorer E.C. Matthews next year. While Iverson didn’t really live up to the hype at Memphis while he was there, this could be a game changer for the Rhode Island program and Danny Hurley’s career. Hurley hasn’t had a winning record since coming to the program in 2012, but he has always been highly thought of as a head coach. If he is able to squeeze together a few good years, using Matthews and Iverson as the catalysts for his success, the Hurley stock will shoot sky high.

Rhode Island's Dan Hurley (USA Today Images)

Dan Hurley Might be Turning the Corner at Rhode Island  (USA Today Images)

Okay, bad joke time.

—————

Because college basketball has returned to its rightful place at the top of the college sports food chain now that something called the football is finally over, many are paying more attention to it. Moreover, those members of the human species who usually prefer to talk about elite quarterbacks, clutch quarterbacks, quarterbacks who have the “it” thingamabob, are now pickings the nits of all the wrongdoings of the sport. I’m not talking about the kind of reform from behind the scenes, either. Granted, that needs some fixing too, but we are mainly seeing folks gripe about the tempo, speed, timing, etc., of the game itself as well as end-game situations.

Thrilling!

Thrilling!

They are all right, too. College basketball should never be longer than two hours and a baker’s dozen worth of minutes. There is no reason that a sport with two 20-minute halves should take two-and-a-half hours. Specifically, though, most functioning humans are talking about the last few minutes of the games. You know, that point where two minutes of game time is actually 10 minutes of real life time because too many timeouts, too many fouls, too many free throws, too many high fives during free throws  —  just too many too many-s (manie? manies? whatever the plural of many is) — are going on. And, again, all of these people are right.

Now, most smart and insightful members of the media have already taken a strong stance on how these things should be fixed. Luckily for all of us, however, I do not consider myself smart nor insightful. Instead, I fall more into that “check box for other” category — other being incredibly handsome, obviously.

So, yeah, you and I are about to fix college hoops, but the correct way. I mean, especially not with all that fancy rule talkie-talk all those other fine folks are doing. To do so, though, we have to acknowledge something that people seem to have a hard time grasping; college basketball is a sport, but to the viewing audience it is used as a means for entertainment. Meaning, people who watch college basketball and the people who want people to watch college basketball need the sport to be as awesome to watch in as consumable a way as the Constitution of these United States allows. All of which means, let’s not necessarily fix college hoops as much as make it more entertaining.

Let’s go.

  • TV timeouts are scheduled. We know this. However, coaches do not seem to grasp that using a timeout with 16:02 left in the first half is not actually ideal. That is why going forward any coach who calls a timeout mere seconds away from a scheduled TV timeout is forced to watch a TV timeout’s worth of Dane Cook stand-up.*
  • Before all commercial breaks, Dustin Diamond is allowed to run through the stands with a knife and no legal recourse.
  • Upon returning from any breaks of action, a member of the broadcast team shall and will recite the chorus to any of Nickelback’s songs from its latest album. If latest album is more than four years old, said broadcaster can choose a chorus from any Limp Bizkit or LEN album.
  • Jump balls are no longer up to the possession arrow. Instead, all tie-ups will be solved in an arm-wrestling match with Frank Stallone as the referee. Since Mr. Stallone, obviously, cannot be at every single game at every time, any celebrity that is only a celebrity because of blood will do. However, and this goes without exception, Stallone is to do every day’s most important game.**
  • If a team or coach are clearly and most certainly circling the wagons in the attempt to kill time (mostly because their offense stinks), only to hurl shots at the general direction of a basketball rim with mere seconds to go on the shot clock, a random member of that team will serve a five-game Arby’s suspension. Arby’s suspension is employed by forcing random player to eat a pound of Arby’s food within 30 seconds of each of the five following games’ opening tips. Medical staffing will be provided by the Marty Jannetty relief fund.
  • Marty Jannetty is to be a referee for at least one Big East Conference game per month. Whatever fines coaches, universities, etc., are forced to pay during that time are to go strictly to the Marty Jannetty relief fund.***
  • Zones are no longer allowed to be employed. In fact, neither are man-to-man defenses. All defenses can now only be implemented with four players on that side of the court. The fifth player, on his team’s offensive side, needs to recite as many passages of On The Road as possible until his team regains possession of the ball.
  • Any members of the audience who do not seem amused by the game and turn to Twitter for their own amusement, which alters the rowdiness of crowds, will be relegated to hang out with Sandra Bullock — on a Tuesday afternoon… watching Dino Dan reruns.
  • Charges are no longer an actual call made by a referee. Any instance where it seems like a defensive player may have actually drawn a foul against the offensive marvel will result in one of two different scenarios. Option one: A Twitter poll decides if the defensive player(s) was indeed in place to take the charge. Option two: Player is banned for life from playing any form of basketball.
  • A timeout called by a coach right after the other team comes out for their called timeout, even if it is just to see how the opposing team is setting up out of mentioned timeout, is to immediately ride a mechanical bull at midcourt. If said coach lasts longer than eight seconds on the bull, his team will be granted the timeout. If not, however, the opposing team is granted two foul shots and the ball.
  • If any game runs over (with the exception of overtime games) two hours and 13 minutes, all players and coaches involved will be forced to be split up and relegated to play for the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.
  • There are no longer studio halftime shows. In its place will be on-air, in-arena, live performances. Things such as clowns doing their best Tim Curry impressions, to the kiss-cam being changed to the forced-to-be-married-right-now-cam, all the way to watching a woman give birth to triplets, are all examples of acceptable halftime performances.
  • Whatever game Joseph Nardone plans to watch on any given night should have Christina Ricci doing play-by-play, color commentary and narrating any profiles of players — with all her talking referenced directly to Joseph Nardone. Ex.: “Rysheed Jordan has done really well tonight. Right, Joseph? Boy, you sure are handsome. Why don’t you come over…” You get the idea.****
  • A basketball game is to be played.*****

*– If coach laughs at any Dane Cook jokes, he is to be immediately barred from helping mold any young person grow into adulthood.

**– Frank has asked that any “over the top” maneuvers are barred. His request has been granted.

*** 80 percent of the Marty Jannetty relief fund goes to Marty Jannetty. 18 percent to Joseph Nadone-related bail issues. With the final two percent to the menial staffing.

****– If by some weird, strange and by some cosmic turn of events Christina Ricci is reading this, I didn’t mean any of that. I mean, unless you liked it. Then I was serious. Love you, babe.

*****- Most controversial new rule. Still currently being debated on by NCAA rule makers.

Hooray basketball, kind of!

Joseph Nardone (22 Posts)

Joseph has covered college basketball both (barely) professionally and otherwise for over five years. A Column of Enchantment for Rush The Court on Thursdays and other basketball stuff for The Student Section on other days.


Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *