Looking Back on Anthony Gurley's UMass Career
UMass basketball has indisputably had a rough couple of years since competing in the NIT in 2008. Two losing seasons followed, and while 2010-11 saw the Minutemen finish with a 15-15 overall record, it was as frustrating and uneven a year as this alum has seen. Through it all, however, loyal UMass fans like me could count on Anthony Gurley to shine on the court.
Gurley was far and away the team's star this past year, steadily impressing fans since he debuted in the 2008-09 season after arriving as a red shirt transfer from Wake Forest the year before. Returning to his home state of Massachusetts, Gurley first distinguished himself in a December 20, 2008 match against Hofstra here at the Mullins Center.
Though he was playing with senior Ricky Harris, UMass's consistent points leader at the time, Gurley led the team with 19 points in the 97-81 victory over Hofstra. During that game, Gurley went 7 of 14 in shooting, and was 5 of 7 from behind the three-point line in 28 minutes of court time. Gurley had double-digit scoring in seventeen games that season, hinting at the kind of career he would have with UMass.
Together, Gurley and Harris proved to be reliable threats as the team's two scoring leaders during the 2009-10 season. Harris racked up an average of 19.8 points in 31.2 minutes per game, with Gurley second in scoring with 13.6 points in an average of 24.9 minutes played. That season, which ended with a 12-20 record, was bitterly disappointing for my fellow alumni and I, but the fact that Harris and Gurley were the only ones on the roster with double digit points averages gives some idea of what went wrong.
Gurley declared for the NBA draft before the following season, making headlines when he participated in a workout with the Boston Celtics. Apparently testing the NBA waters, Gurley ultimately came back to UMass to finish out his senior year at the school.
With Ricky Harris leaving after his senior year, 2010-11 was Gurley chance to truly shine. Harris's departure was ultimately a mixed blessing. Although Gurley was now the team's undisputed star, being alone in the spotlight meant that the team was in for a frustrating season. However, things got off to a pretty promising start.
Gurley scored his 1,000th point with UMass during the season opener against Rider, and the Minutemen went undefeated through the first seven games. That winning streak was thanks in no small part to Gurley's consistent scoring. By the time the season ended, Gurley had 560 total points, averaging 18.7 per game, making plenty of top ten lists in the Atlantic 10.
Gurley's A-10 conference records for the 2010-11 season include being ranked 3rd in points per game, 4th in field goals, 7th in three-pointers made, and 3rd in overall points scored. Despite Gurley's disappointing performance in UMass's final game against Dayton in the first round of the A-10 Tournament, those numbers made Gurley an A-10 All-Conference Third Team pick. Gurley's potential NBA future remains to be seen, but this alum will definitely be keeping an eye on him.