A Closer Look: Robert Upshaw

The Wildcats are looking hard at Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial center Robert Upshaw and WildcatAuthority.com asks his head coach, Pat Geil, about the type of player Upshaw is, how he can impact a program, his strengths and weaknesses, and much more.

Arizona is heavily recruiting Fresno (Calif.) San Joaquin Memorial center Robert Upshaw. WildcatAuthority.com took the opportunity to speak with Upshaw's coach, Pat Geil about what type of player Upshaw is, what he would add to a college program, and more.

WildcatAuthority.com: Was he able to practice despite sitting out the year?

Pat Geil: He practiced every day with us.

WildcatAuthority.com: What type of player did you see in those practices?

Pat Geil: He is a post player and a big kid obviously. He is a prototypical big man I guess you would say. He is very good around the basket. He is a very good shot blocker with very good timing. I think the toughest thing for Rob knowing that you are not going to play is getting motivated every single day. That would be a challenge for any kid really, but he did really well with it. I was pretty impressed with how he handled it.

WildcatAuthority.com: It is difficult for any kid to sit out like that, but what type of role did he take on while doing so?

Pat Geil: One of Rob's best qualities is that he is a very good communicator. Sometimes that can be bad when you are not in the game, but when he is in a game, he talks really well on defense. He is a very unselfish player and he really pushed our first group.

It is kind of a funny thing because we never went against a big man of his caliber any time during the season. What he did for our big men is challenged them every day and forced them to get better and more creative around the basket and you could see at the end of the season that really helped our team.

WildcatAuthority.com: Is he the type of player you can build a team around or is he more complementary?

Pat Geil: I will say this, like I said he is a very unselfish player, but he is so good around the basket and is such a good passer that I have been running the same offense for basically five years now and we are changing it because of Rob.

It is not because it doesn't fit Rob, it is because we need to get Rob the ball. We are used to having guards and we still have guards but now we have a kid that we can throw the ball inside to, so we are going to make more of a conscious effort to get him the ball.

WildcatAuthority.com: In terms of competition up there, what is it like?

Pat Geil: I would say it is more guard oriented. There is another good big man in the area but they are a little around the ways, so we might see them in the tournament. We will see a lot of guard oriented teams that try to trap. He will probably get challenged more around tournament time than he will during league.

WildcatAuthority.com: Some people are seeing him for the first time in a year and are surprised by how much he has improved. Is that improvement something that you could see in practice?

Pat Geil: I think that the one area we really saw him improve was on the defensive end. I think a lot of that was due to the fact that he played a lot of defense because he was with our second group every day. We can definitely see a day by day improvement and there were some days that he absolutely dominated.

He did not get to play and that maybe hurt his development a little bit, but I think the one thing it really helped him with is that for a kid who does not get to play all year, it really lit a fire under him. Lately when he plays he has been really aggressive and he just looks like he is really enjoying himself and is excited to be back on the court.

WildcatAuthority.com: What would you say are some things he excels at and that you would like to see him improve at?

Pat Geil: I think he has some real natural gifts. He is a good shot blocker. He does not try to just knock it out of bounds. He tries to block the shot, so his team can get it. He is very good around the basket and big and strong. He has really worked on his upper and lower body and you could see a significant difference in him physically since he has started working with our trainer.

I would say the general area he can work on would be being a better rebounder on both ends. I think sometimes when you are that big, you just assume you are going to get the rebound. We are going to challenge him and challenge the other kids to make him work and really go get the ball and be aggressive doing it.

WildcatAuthority.com: From what you have seen does he fit more of a half-court offense or a running offense?

Pat Geil: We are definitely going to slow things down a bit. I would say in previous years we would run on anything. When you have a kid like Rob, you have to play to your strengths. We will get out and run, but I guess where we might take a chance and gamble a bit offensively, we won't do that now because we know that we have a guy that we can throw it inside to.


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