As 2008 left and 2009 arrived, out went non-conference games and in came league play – the meat and potatoes of the college basketball season. The week was packed with big-time match-ups from nearly every conference, and several teams had statement-making wins in an attempt to send a message to the rest of the country regarding their legitimacy. The top two teams in the country – North Carolina and Connecticut – both lost in wire-to-wire defeats at home, while No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 7 Notre Dame also fell in surprising fashion. When the smoke cleared, only a few things were left standing: four undefeated teams and plenty of standout individual performances.
With so many upsets and big wins, this week had arguably the highest number of Player of the Week contenders this season. There was Arkansas’ Michael Washington, who averaged 29 points and 11 rebounds in two games, including a win over Oklahoma; Jeff Teague of Wake Forest, who scored 30 points in a road win over BYU; and Kansas’ Sherron Collins, who had 26 points, five rebounds and nine assists against Tennessee. Of course, there was Florida’s Nick Calathes, who had 32 points, five rebounds and five assists against North Carolina State, including the last 12 points for the Gators and the game-winning shot. Don’t forget about Pittsburgh’s DeJuan Blair, either, who put up 20 points and 17 rebounds in the Panthers’ road win at Georgetown. The honor for Player of the Week, though, has to go to Boston College’s Tyrese Rice.
Rice, the senior guard who has seemingly been at BC forever, had one of the best weeks of his standout career. Of course, the most important moment of the week was the Eagles’ shocking road victory over the Tar Heels, but we’ll get to that in a second. Earlier in the week, Rice had 21 points, five rebounds and nine assists in a blowout win over San Francisco. He followed that up with an 18-point, seven-rebound, eight-assist performance against Sacred Heart on New Year’s Eve. That combination of games would have put him in consideration for POW most weeks, but his game against North Carolina sealed the deal. The 6-1 All-American candidate put up 25 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out eight assists, hitting 9 of 10 from the free-throw line. As the lone senior on Boston College, Rice’s leadership and clutch play helped give the Eagles a huge win. In his three games this past week, Rice averaged 21.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. He shot 47.3 percent from the field and 81.4 percent from the charity stripe.
- Sherron Collins, Kansas
- Jerome Randle, California
- Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
CollegeHoops.net Player of the Week Archive
- Dec 29: Alex Ruoff, West Virginia
- Dec 22: AJ Price, UCONN
- Dec 15: Dionte Christmas, Temple
- Dec 8: Stephen Curry, Davidson
- Dec 1: Jonny Flynn, Syracuse
- Nov 24: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma