It's safe to say that in nearly four seasons at Canisius College, Robert Goldsberry has done more to shake up the psyche of opponents -- not to mention press row -- than any player in recent memory.
Last Friday night against Siena, Goldsberry dived for a loose ball and was parallel to the floor when he tried to cradle it and call a timeout. He landed on the floor with a thud and the official ruled he didn't have possession. On Sunday, Rider's Novar Gadson was called for a foul after elbowing Goldsberry in the face. Good thing the ref didn't see Goldsberry push Gadson on the hip seconds before the elbow landed.
Whether it's the reckless loose-ball pursuits or brushing himself off after a cartwheeling crash into an opponent (or teammate), Goldsberry loves the challenge of basketball.
"When I see a ball I think, 'Why not be the one who gets to that ball?' " said Goldsberry, a senior guard. "They say those are 50-50 balls but I think it's 90-10. Ninety percent my ball, 10 percent the other guy."
Sure he plays each game like it's his last but Goldsberry takes it a step further. He plays as if world peace was riding on the outcome. Take aim on each loose ball and play defense as though he enjoys it. That's his niche.
That kamikaze nature may lead Goldsberry to his next endeavor: Playing football at Michigan for his uncle, new coach Brady Hoke. But first, Goldsberry is trying to change his image just a bit. Throughout his career the 6-foot, 175-pounder has always been the guy trying to secure extra possessions and to be in the right place defensively all while grasping the nuances of the offense. This year he's evolved into a better basketball player.
Goldsberry ranks in the top 10 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in five categories and the top five in steals (third, 1.7), free-throw percentage (fifth, 81.8) and assist to turnover ratio (fifth, 1.6).
"He's become pretty skilled and a good basketball player, and he still has all the things that we loved about him when he was coming up," Canisius coach Tom Parrotta said. "We'll be hard pressed to replace those intangibles. Tough kid, toughest I've ever been around."
But it comes with a price. Goldsberry visits a chiropractor weekly, takes ice baths after practice and receives regular massages. The play against Siena resulted in a bruise on his right elbow. Goldsberry shrugs and walks it off.
"I'm definitely going to have an ice bath in my house when I get older, sitting next to the toilet and the shower is going to be a huge silver tub in there," he said. "It definitely takes a toll, but you only get four years of college basketball. I'm very fortunate to be able to play here and I'll do everything I can for Coach P and this team. If it means sacrificing my body every day then that's what I'll do for Canisius."
He could be doing the same thing for the Michigan football program next fall. Goldsberry originally planned on playing for Hoke at San Diego State but playing for the Wolverines would be a dream. Goldsberry is a native of Ohio but said, "Always been a Michigan fan. I'm not going to say we hated Ohio State, but we didn't care for them that much."
"I've always thought about doing it when he was at San Diego State and if it works out academically, I'd love to go to Michigan and play," added Goldsberry, who played wide receiver and safety in high school. "We've always joked around that I'd be the third-string holder. Whatever position they need me to fill I'd love to do it."
The Golden Griffins (7-8, 1-4 MAAC) play at Manhattan (2-14, 0-5) at 2 p.m. today in Big 4 action while Niagara University (4-13, 1-4) plays at Saint Peter's (8-8, 3-2), also at 2 p.m. On Sunday, the University at Buffalo, which lost to Miami (Ohio) on Thursday, hosts Akron at 2 p.m., while St. Bonaventure (9-6, 1-1) plays at Rhode Island (9-6, 0-1) at 4 p.m.