After injury, Upchurch
•raig Upchurch finished his year at UH as
one of the school's most honored hoops players.
Upchurch joined former UH Ail-
Americans Elvin Hayes and Michael Young
as the only three players in UH history to
score 1,800 points and grab 750 rebounds. The
feat made him only the sixth Southwest Conference player to reach those mileposts.
The point scoring forward came out
with a bang in his first season (1987-88) when
he played all 31 games, and was named SWC
Newcomer of the Year.
'Church' then proceeded to earn all-SWC
honors the next two
years, building his
reputation with his on-
the-spot shooting and
season went on with
out the 6' 8" forward as a building pain during
his junior year finally caused major trouble. In
a preseason practice Upchurch bent over, and
couldn't get up. Later tests showed two ruptured discs in Upchurch's back. Surgery was
recommended, but there was the long recovery time involved.
"It wasn't all that hard sitting out last
year," said Upchurch. "There was nothing I
could do about it. It was either have the
surgery or not be able to play again."
Healthier and huskier, Upchurch's return was the reason for a stronger, more balanced team this year. It also lead many sports-
writers to pick Houston as the preseason
favorite for the SWC title.
A St. Louis native, Upchurch had
plans toattend the University of St. Louis,and
had even signed a letter of intent, but due to
some summer problems, his entry into the
school was denied. The Billiken's coach then
back to win
led him to UH.
This year, Upchurch had the chance
to play a game against the team he originally
hoped to play for.
A game had been scheduled in St.
Louis, but the back injury had left him out of
it. A game at Hofheinz was scheduled this
year, and the Coogs trounced them, 110-88.
Upchurch only played nine minutes.
"I can't ever remember in my career
not playing in a second half," said Upchurch.
Upchurch's goal this year was to win
the conference championship.
"It took me five seasons to do it, but we
finally made it,"
Upchurch said. "This
was my last chance. It
was time for me to do
whatever I could to
help the team."
The SWC Tournament was certainly
a resume builder for Upchurch, as he made
the move in the second half of the championship game to give Houston the definitive lead
over the Longhorns. Upchurch was named to
the All-Tournament team, and received his
third All-Southwest Conference honor.
On the stats side, Upchurch averaged
15.7 points a game, 6.5 rebounds, and an
amazing 55.6 shooting percentage.
"Craig has come back from a devastating injury to play at a very high level," said
Coach Pat Foster. "Because of the contribution
he's made and the kind of person he is. Craig
is very special."
While Upchurch wasn't chosen in the
two round NBA draft, There is little doubt
that he will play professional basketball. With
his jumping ability, physical play, and quality
shooting, he should be taken as a free agent.
If not, his resiliency should allow him to
bounce back, he has before.-Michael Edwards
photo by Thomas Nguyen
raig Upchurch finds that the ball has been sligh tly
mis-handled. According to the UH basketball press
guide, Upchurch's greatest moment was: Passing
the SAT. Good thing that he did.Photo by Thomas
oha! I'm only trying to block you! Newcomer
David Diaz seems bowled over by Rice. Maybe Diaz
read lastvear'sscouting report, but Rice proved to be
improved and gave the Coogs trouble. Photo In/
Here come the
louring the middle of EH5 season, every team invds a
Mere's where the Gauche>s come in.
At anawaygameagaii^Baytor,Coach Pat Foster took
Sam Mack out of the starting line up and replaced him for
JessieDrain. The starting five of I )rain,( raigUpchuich,Bo
Outlaw, Derrick Daniels and Derrick Smith would Ihen
play,until Fosterwanti'd them loresl.Thenall fivestarlers
would sit for Mack, Tyrone Ivans, Roger lernainles,
Rafael Carrasco and David Diaz.
"It was used to better utilize the t.ikMit on t he heiuh, said
Foster. "We felt at that point of the seasc >n that we needed
to get people involved. We had some of that group that
were better on defense, some were better on offense. We
felt like, in combination, it really gave us a spark."
The strategy may work for the six or so games it was
used, but Foster doesn't want to take it farther than that.
"It's something you just can't do all the time," said
Foster. "It breaks up the continuity of the game."
But then again, Tulane pulled the five-for-five switch
all season long, with their second team being called 'The
Posse'. Perhaps a name should be made for our second
Leave it up to the Houston Post's Gene Duffey, who
covers SWC and UH sports to come up with the Gauchos.
With three South Americans (Fernandes, Diaz and
Carrasco) in the second five, the Spanish cowboysof South
America seemed appropriate, but what about Mack?
"I asked him if he minded being named a (iauchoand
he said it was O. K., he had a passport," said Dufh \.
Foster insists that, "The players never got into that.
They never really got behind the name, ^md after a tew
games, Foster changed strategy, g( ring with his starters 1< *r
games, but never substituting the entire five
"There's 300 Division I teams and we can think of 'only
one that did it (all season)," said Foster. "So it's obviously
something that's not popular."
The name caught on with the television broadcasters,
but Duffey seemed sad that it never appeared in the
Houston Chronicle, the rival paper.
"It was just a fun thing, kind of a kick for the players ,md
me," said Duffey. "Butit will never be as big as PhiSlamma