Raphiael Putney has battled expectations throughout his career for the UMass Minutemen. With his rare combination of size and perimeter scoring ability, it has always been easy for fans to expect Putney to do big things for UMass and be disappointed when he landed on the bench in foul trouble more often than not.
That wasn't the case on Tuesday as Putney played a full complement of minutes, notching 14 points and nine rebounds while throwing down one of the best dunks of the Tip Off Marathon. Sampson Carter missed a free throw and Putney did the rest. Oh man, was that beautiful.
Putney is aware of the narrative that follows him around regarding fouls and is eager to shed it.
"A lot of people keep talking about my foul trouble the years I've been at UMass," Putney said. "But I tried to not dwell on that, my teammates and coaches just telling me to keep my head up and play solid defense, and I just came out with a vengeance today. Just tried to rebound the basketball a lot more, which I did, and just going out and playing my game and let it come to me and relax."
His teammates were quick to come to his side as well, notably Chaz Williams.
"Put was with us the whole way," Williams said. "And he told us right there and then, like, 'Let's go. I'm here to ride and do whatever it takes for us to win, so we all looked at him and said, 'Let's go,' and he did what he had to do."
If "Put" is with them the rest of the way, and doing stuff like that, this will be a very successful season for the Minutemen.