Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass gets the better of Harris vs. Harris showdown

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Michael Phillis/Collegian

Ricky Harris practically dared Darnell Harris to take it.

Darnell, La Salle’s version of a 6-foot-1, 3-point-shooting swingman from Baltimore, Md., was about 35 feet from the basket – with his feet nearly on the “U” in the UMass logo at center court.

Having swished his two previous long-range shots, Darnell launched the shot over Ricky – a 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Baltimore, who just happens to be a good 3-point shooter in his own right – just as he had the two times before. The result this time was another perfect swish, and an Atlantic 10 tying record with 331 career 3-pointers.

“Man, he can shoot the ball,” Ricky said after the game.

“I didn’t think he was going to shoot it. I was right in his face, hands up, everything. Oh, man.”

Darnell will undoubtedly re-hash that shot to his old high school buddy next time they talk, but it will be Ricky that gets the last laugh. Darnell ended his night with 13 points and four made 3-pointers, but Ricky (21 points, five 3-pointers) and the Minutemen surpassed Darnell’s totals, and La Salle’s.

Darnell was frustrated with his team’s performance in the 100-63 loss, but was quick to acknowledge how well Ricky played after the game.

“Ricky is definitely coming a long way. He definitely worked on his game and got better,” Darnell said. “I think he has a real [versatile] game; he can take it to the rack and he can shoot it real well. I give all the credit to Ricky for working hard.”

Ricky was all smiles after notching 20-plus points, sending the five seniors out with a victory on Senior Night and outscoring his buddy. It was Ricky’s defense in the first half that limited Darnell to just one shot (which came nine seconds into the game) and one point in 18 minutes of play.

“Darnell’s a great player. Wherever he went I just stayed with him; on his hip, on his chest and wherever he went I stayed right there,” Ricky said.

“I’ve known Ricky for a long time, we basically grew up together,” Darnell said. “We played a lot of basketball together growing up; he’s like a brother to me.”

The two guards didn’t go to the same high school in Baltimore, but they were on opposite sides of the court enough to know one another’s tendencies. But Darnell downplayed their familiarity with each other as the reason he struggled to get open.

“My game is totally different now than it was in high school. I’m pretty sure that they watched as much tape on us as we watched tape on them,” Darnell said. “I really don’t like to force shots and I didn’t have any open looks so I just swung the ball to my teammates when they were open.”

Darnell’s game isn’t the same now as it was then, but it’s nearly identical to Ricky’s. Both are short, athletic two-guards that can run the floor and consistently knock down 3-pointers.

Darnell has the bragging rights in the shooting department. Of the 102 players in Division I with at least 190 3-point attempts, only Jaycee Carroll of Utah State has hit at a higher rate than Darnell’s 48.9. Darnell has taken 13 more 3-pointers than Ricky, but has made 35 more.

But the versatility of Ricky’s game that Darnell mentioned has enabled the UMass sophomore guard to edge Darnell in scoring average. Ricky averages 18 points per night, while Darnell averages 16.

Coming in a losing effort, the La Salle senior captain didn’t really care too much about that nor his late 3-pointers. But the final one – the shot from nearly halfcourt – was something he’ll think about once his career is over.

“It’s a good accomplishment,” Darnell said about tying former UMass player Monty Mack with an A-10 record 331 made 3-pointers. “I definitely give credit to my teammates for getting me the ball. I’m definitely going to be proud of it after the season.”

Ricky guarded Darnell for much of the night, but Chris Lowe switched out on him at times. La Salle played mostly zone defense, so Darnell didn’t get much of a chance to play defense against him – except for one time early in the second half.

With about 16 minutes left to play, Ricky drove into the lane hard in traffic. Darnell shifted over, and planted his feet. The whistle was blown — a charge on Ricky.

That moment marked the only time in the entire game the two good friends spoke to each other.

“I asked him if he was alright,” Ricky said. “But when we’re out there on the court, we’re just competing. We’re friends off the court.”

Darnell probably enjoyed taking that charge, but Ricky got Darnell once on the defensive end, as well. It was a similar play, where Darnell drove the lane against Ricky. But Ricky couldn’t take the charge as it was much too late.

“He’s so quick, he went past me with his left hand and I couldn’t get back in front of him,” Ricky said. “He brought the ball behind his hip because I think Tony [Gaffney] stepped up and he had to change his shot. And I swiped at it and luckily I knocked it out and stole it.”

It seemed fitting that Ricky’s only steal of the night came against Darnell. Before practice on Tuesday, Ricky talked about how Darnell usually got the better of him back in high school.

This time was different.

Ater the victory, Ricky said he was going to call Darnell later to talk about the game.

Darnell should probably let it go to voicemail.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]

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