CCU Male Athlete of Month: Raffa looks to go out on top

Success has followed the Coastal Carolina men’s basketball team over the last four years. Their overall record in that time has been 88-37.

It’s also about the same time span that Coastal Carolina has featured two of the premier backcourts – not only in the Big South Conference, but around the entire region.

Senior guard Anthony Raffa follows up teammate Kierre Greenwood, who won the December Men’s Player of the Month for Coastal, as the January Men’s Player of the Month. The award comes from the Hampton Inn & Suites Myrtle Beach Ocean Front Resorts through the Grand Strand Sports Report.

“Being a senior and being with Kierre, we know each other and we are the leaders out there,” Raffa said. “In tough situations, they look to us to make plays.”

The two of them have been able to help lead a fairly young Chanticleer squad to some key victories in 2012-13. They have combined for 772 points this season.

“For me and him, we have been together so long we probably didn’t think we would be able to do this well in college, to score a thousand points in college,” Raffa said of their career points. “I give the credit to Coach (Cliff) Ellis and the coaching staff here. They have been pushing us to get better.”

Raffa, who is the son of Andrew and Sallee Raffa of Sea Isle City, NJ, has scored 471 points this season for an 18.8 points-per-game average in 812 minutes.  He is 55-for-148 from 3-point range for a .372 average. He has 88 rebounds, 38 assists and 46 steals in 2012-13.

Among the wins that the Chanticleers have taken this season include an 11-3 record at home in the new HTC Center. They have one of the most impressive home-court records in the nation.

“That is just home court – you have to protect your home court,” Raffa said. “That is what we have been doing. We have had some tough games. We need to keep winning, and that is we need to do to keep that success going.”

Despite being 2-9 on the road this season, CCU has a core group of young players with seven freshmen. They are learning to play together more as a team on the road.

“With a young group, you have to talk them through everything – road games for instance. That is the difference between playing at home and on the road. We have to understand what it takes to win on the road,” said Raffa.

“The first part of conference, we were on the road almost every game. This is the first time since conference play that we have had some home stretches. That is a great advantage for us.”

In the last seven games, the Chanticleers have gone 5-2, and now look to have a good opportunity to garner one of the top spots in the Big South Conference Tournament, which will be held at the HTC Center on March 5-10.

Raffa scored 108 points in those seven games for an average of 15.4 points per game. That included putting up 17 points in a win at home against Charleston Southern. He scored 22 points, four assists and three steals against UNC Asheville in a win at home.

Both he and Greenwood have surpassed the 1,000 point mark in their time at Coastal. They have a 60-30 record in the past three seasons, and they hold a 39-9 record at home – a record the Chants hope to improve upon during the final stretch of the season.

“Being in the Big South Championship, scoring over 1,000 points here – I have had a positive win to loss ratio here at Coastal,” Raffa added about playing for CCU. “In my three(-plus) years playing here, we have had three times the number of wins to losses. It has been a very positive experience.”

Photo by Joel Beachum

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