Tony Gaffney (Sr.), Massachusetts. While others may have scored more points, no player helped his team any greater on both ends of the floor than did Gaffney. For the week, Gaffney averaged a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds per game), and also intimidated opponents by swatting away five shots per outing, including a nine block effort against Boston College. A model of efficiency on the offensive end as well, the senior shot 67% in UMass’ two close defeats. He also narrowly missed a triple-double in the overtime thriller against BC (below). For the year, Gaffney has been an iron man, ranking second in the conference in minutes played (37 per game). He ranks in the Top 10 in seven statistical categories, including leading the league in rebounds (13.1 per game) and blocks (5.0 per game), as well as ranking fourth in steals (2.14 per game).
HONORABLE MENTION: B.J. Raymond, (Sr.) Xavier; Ahmad Nivins, (Sr.) Saint Joseph’s.
GAME OF THE WEEK: December 6, 2008. Boston College 85, UMass 81 (OT)
The Minutemen did everything in this game but win. Ricky Harris crushed his previous career high of twenty-seven points by tallying thirty-five in the losing effort. Tony Gaffney was magnificent; scoring 15 points, pulling down 18 rebounds, and blocking nine shots. UMass even orchestrated a furious rally with 23 seconds to play, coming from five down in that span to force overtime. The teams traded the lead six times in the extra frame, but in the end, the Eagles clawed their way to hard-fought victory in Amherst.
GAME OF THE UPCOMING WEEK: No. 14 Xavier @ Cincinnati: It’s a rivalry renewed, as the 2008 version of the Crosstown Shootout will take place in Cincinnati. The Musketeers and Bearcats will be battling for city-wide bragging rights in a game that always proves full of intensity. Last year, Xavier won a battle at the Cintas Center, 64-59. This year’s contest looks to be highly competitive as well, as the teams have combined for thirteen wins, and just one loss (Cincy’s defeat to Florida State).
HONORABLE MENTION: Temple vs. No. 10 Tennessee
RPI BOOST OF THE WEEK: Charlotte; RPI No. 228 (Up 96 spots from 324 last week): The Niners finally snapped their losing streak and, along with boosting team morale, the win over Southern Illinois in Carbondale boosted their RPI… in grand fashion.
RPI FALL OF THE WEEK: Richmond; RPI No. 172 (Down 74 spots from 98 last week): The Spiders had a 1-1 week, but their win was against a weak Delaware State team (RPI No. 199), and their loss to an even lower ranked (RPI No. 254) Old Dominion squad.
Power Rankings (through December 7th, 2008)
Xavier: Holding serve until Holloway returns from injury.
Dayton: Best defense in the league right now (permitting just 54 points per game) has led to the largest scoring margin at plus 14.
Rhode Island: Loss to Providence marks the third time Rhody has lost to a BCS conference team this year (’Nova, Duke). Have a final shot against Oklahoma State on December 20th.
Temple: Victory over a seven-win Penn State team despite just two points from Dionte’ Christmas is a sign of a growing team.
La Salle: Eight days to prepare for nationally ranked Villanova’s arrival at Tom Gola Arena. A huge game in Philly.
Richmond: Twelfth in the league in scoring last season; now second (73-plus points per game) in 2008… without Dan Geriot.
Saint Joseph’s: Lost to Creighton after trailing by twenty-one, rallying late to salvage dignity.
Duquesne: Receiving scoring from freshmen building blocks Melquan Bolding and Eric Evans at six and eight points per game, respectively.
Saint Louis: Liddell and Lisch are combining for twenty-six points per game.
Charlotte: Earned second win of the year against a tough Southern Illinois team on the road. Looking to build momentum.
St. Bonaventure: Backup point guard Ray Blackburn rebounded after a poor outing at Canisius with seventeen points in a win over Princeton.
George Washington: Not ready to hang yet with quality competition, but freshman Taylor’s 33.8 minutes per game and Travis King’s improving health are reasons for optimism.
UMass: Another two-loss week stung, but Gaffney and Harris had stellar games in the overtime loss to BC. Minutemen look for their first D-I win this week at the expense of Holy Cross.
Fordham: Have yet to score over 68 points in a game; shooting just 36% from the floor on the year.