Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Player of the Week, Jan. 4

Player of the Week: Ashton Gibbs, G, Pittsburgh

Many people say that the week between Christmas and New Year's Day is the least-worked period of the year. However, that was certainly not the case in college basketball this season. This week featured plenty of outstanding performances, starting with Jimmer Fredette's 49-point effort at Arizona. William & Mary's Quinn McDowell averaged 17.0 points in two wins at Maryland and Hofstra, while New Mexico's Darington Hobson averaged 19.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists in wins over Texas Tech and Dayton. Also, what about Purdue's JaJuan Johnson putting up 25 points and 10 boards against West Virginia? Or Kentucky's Demarcus Cousins' 18 points and 18 rebounds vs. Louisville? Gonzaga's Elias Harris averaged 17.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in impressive wins over Oklahoma and Illinois, and Radford’s Art Parakhouski averaged 32.5 points, 9.5 boards and 3.5 blocks on 83 percent field-goal shooting. Additionally, Wisconsin’s Trevon Hughes averaged 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in two wins over Ohio State and Penn State. Also, you can’t forget Virginia Tech’s Dorenzo Hudson and his 41-point performance against Seton Hall. Finishing as the runner-up this week was Oregon’s Michael Duniga, who averaged 21.0 points and 13.0 rebounds per game in road wins at Washington and Washington State.

The most impressive overall performance this week, though, came from Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs. The 6-2 guard from New Jersey led the Panthers to a 2-0 Big East start with wins over DePaul and at Syracuse, the latter being the Orange’s first defeat this season. He averaged 23.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two games, knocking down 9-of-13 three-point attempts (69.2 percent). Furthermore, Gibbs was perfect from the free-throw line (10-for-10), breaking the Pittsburgh record for most consecutive free-throws made. Against Syracuse, Gibbs almost single-handedly kept the Panthers in the game, as he knocked down six three-pointers, including three in a four-minute span in the first half.

Pittsburgh came into the season with more questions than answers after the departure of four starters and the absence of Jermaine Dixon and Gilbert Brown. However, Gibbs has kept them in contention, averaging 17.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He is shooting better than 40 percent from long-range and 94.2 percent from the charity stripe. Pittsburgh is currently 12-2, and the primary reason is Gibbs.

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