Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Drake’s Takes: Nebraska Basketball Transfers and Discussing Deshaun Watson

April 01, 2022

This week’s Drake’s Takes covers recent transfers for both Nebraska basketball teams, along with discussing how Deshaun Watson’s return to the field may be framed.

Basketball Transfers

The offseason for Nebraska men’s basketball has been heavily associated with the transfer portal in recent years, and that process has begun once again.

So far, Eduardo Andre, Keon Edwards and Trevor Lakes have all entered the portal. That’s in addition to some other departures, such as Bryce McGowens declaring for the draft and Kobe Webster and Alonzo Verge graduating.

Andre is the most notable departure of the three transfers. The second-year big man played in all 30 games, averaging just over three points and three rebounds. If he stayed, he may have had the opportunity to find his way onto the court, but with former four-star Wilhelm Breidenbach returning from injury and seven-footer Oleg Kojenets being available after redshirting last season, the frontcourt is going to be a lot more crowded.

Early on, the Huskers can live with these transfers. The frontcourt looks about as good as it could as of now, especially with Derrick Walker choosing to return for another season. The guard spots are a lot more shaky, so we’ll see how those get filled out over the course of the offseason.

The women’s side has also seen a good amount of movement. Bella Cravens, Mi’Cole Cayton and Ruby Porter all won’t be returning to the Huskers next season. On paper, these departures may seem a bit more alarming. All three played at least eight minutes per game for the team, and Cravens in particular averaged over five points and five rebounds on 52.2% shooting.

However, I don’t see any reason to be too worried. The Huskers surely would have loved to have a player like Cravens back, but this team has done well in managing departures of key players in the past few years. After the 2019-20 season, Nebraska lost multiple key contributors, including Leigha Brown, who was the team’s leading scorer and has since become a star for Michigan. They also lost multi-year starter Hannah Whitish to graduation, and key starter Ashtyn Veerbeek to the portal. Taylor Kissinger, one of the program’s best 3-point shooters ever, also retired.

Still, the Huskers managed to go 13-13 the next year, which wasn’t outstanding but impressive given the circumstances. Then, star center Kate Cain left the team. Cain owns a lot of records at Nebraska, and is one of the team’s best players in recent memory, but the Huskers still made it work this season without her to reach the NCAA Tournament.

All of this is evidence that coach Amy Williams has built up a strong program. The return of guard Sam Haiby will help continue this year’s success as well, and the Huskers could bring in more contributors through the transfer portal.

Narratives around Deshaun Watson

Two weeks ago, the Cleveland Browns traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson.

That’s still a somewhat jarring sentence to type. 

While two grand juries have declined to indict Deshaun Watson over the past few weeks regarding 10 total criminal complaints of sexual misconduct, the quarterback still faces 22 civil lawsuits. 

I’m not in a position to say what exactly Watson did or did not do. However, the fact that 22 women are accusing him of such behavior should at least sound off some alarms, along with other details such as the fact that he was accused of deleting Instagram messages

Despite all this, a significant part of the conversation around Watson, within the league, media and fans has returned to normal, as if nothing happened in the first place. That’s one of the most frustrating parts of this situation. 

Watson very well may still end up suspended by the NFL. In fact, his contract details suggest that he’s preparing for it. His base salary for 2022 is just $1 million, meaning that he’d only be losing about $55,555 per game missed. That’s nothing in the scope of his five-year, $230 million dollar contract. 

The Browns and other teams in the league pursued Watson knowing that there was a decent chance he’d be suspended for his off-field conduct. To say the least, that’s troubling. There were no real morals involved in this process, just whether he’d be able to play or not. 

Apart from the league itself, one thing I’ve noticed in my sports fandom is that the media and fans generally handle these situations poorly. 

The most prominent example that comes to my mind is Derrick Rose, who was one of my favorite athletes growing up. 

Rose and two friends were accused of rape in a civil trial, then cleared in 2016. The trial contained several questionable moments, including Rose saying he didn’t know what consent meant and posing for pictures with jurors following the verdict.  

In 2018, when Rose scored 50 points for the Timberwolves, the guard was praised for being able to “overcome” the accusation. 

“He’s got a lot of stuff going on off the court, and I’m not a judge and I’m not a jury, and to my estimation he’s not been convicted of anything … but he plays hard,” the commentator said of Rose after the buzzer sounded.

I remember a similar narrative around Antonio Brown being promoted last year, as the receiver was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2017 and 2018 but still found his way onto the 2021 Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Even if you feel strongly about letting the legal process play out in these situations, there should be the acknowledgement that being able to return to competition does not mean that a person clearly did no wrong. That should be enough to not turn the cases of Rose, Brown and Watson into positive narratives. 

In his introductory press conference last week, Watson said he desired to “get back to that brand, that person I was” prior to these accusations. Many will be willing to help him do that and more.

When the NFL season begins five months from now, I just hope that fans and media can resist treating Watson as a hero. 

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