Well now, that was bracing, considerably more nerve rattling than Cardinals fans expected when U of L, humming along harmoniously, was up 23 on Boston College with 9:10 to play.
At which point, the home team was tested. And passed. And hopefully learned some valuable lessons, as this intriguing season moves on.
Have you heard this one before, class? Basketball is a game of runs.
”Why yes, Seedy, we have, more than a few times.”
I inquire because last night’s eventual ten point victory was a classic game of runs.
”How many runs were there, Seedy?”
OK, pardon the reference, but remember when a bunch of pledges from the frat house went to Tijuana over spring break, and came back sicker than a pack of street chihuahuas? More runs than that.
Neither team was clicking early. The game was knotted at 9 at 13:20. Six minutes later, the Cards found themselves down 16-28 to a Boston College team that was ofer the ACC and loser of four consecutive.
After a Jordan Chatman jumper at 4:28, the Cardinals were still down 7.
Then U of L went Nigel Tufnel on the visitors. Between then and intermission, the Cards smothered a lone BC FT with this onslaught: Jordan Nwora layup, on a beautiful fast break where the rock went from Khwan Fore to Christen Cunningham to JN. Next CC found Nwora for a trey. 30-32, Timeout Eagles.
Out of the stoppage, Louisville ran a beautiful set, my favorite favorite offensive sequence of the night, maybe the season. It looked sort of like a classic Phil Jackson triangle maneuver, that I’m not sure I can adequately describe. Fore drove the ball to the left of the hoop. Malik Williams came out for a pick. Then they rotated in a manner that cleared the space, which Nwora filled by drifting over from the top of the key, for an uncontested three from 45 degrees. 33-32.
Then, a Williams layin, Nwora end to end for two, a JN FT when he was fouled after not giving up the rock to either of two open teammates on a 3 on 1 break, a Dwayne Sutton threeball, and a couple charity tosses by CC.
The 18-1 assault put the Cards up 43-33 at the break.
* * * * *
Down 21 at 73-52, BC fashioned its own counterpoint blitzkrieg after a media timeout with 7:35 to play. The Pep Band played “Stayin’ Alive” while Jim Christian was fashioning a trapping press which befuddled the Cardinals, who barely stayed alive.
The visitors scored 16 straight, while the Cardinals went 4:58 without a score. Cunningham started triage with two FTS at 2:56. After another BC deuce, cutting U of L’s advantage to a wobbly 75-70, Nwora drained a seriously huge second chance trey after Sutton grabbed the carom of his own miss to keep the possession viable. 78-70.
After another BC miss, Williams grabbed the board, saw Nwora streaking ahead of everyone down court and alertly hurled a Patrick Mahomes, facilitating an exclamation point slam.
Knees knocking, U of L survived, 80-70.
* * * * *
With an exhale and a smirk of relief, Chris Mack indicated he’d gained some perspective on the ways of America’s best basketball league, starting his post game with this:
”Well, life in a new league for me, in the ACC.”
Jordan Nwora was the topic of much of his meet and greet. Mack had nothing but praise for the soph, who scored a career high 32 on 12/16, 5/9 marksmanship. He also had ten rebounds four assists, a block and a steal.
The coach expressed his pleasure with his star’s improved defense, especially his footwork.
All of which is deserved. Though the nitpicker in me laments that selfishness on the 3 on 1 break, and the lack of focus in the 1st when his casual outlet pass under the Cardinals’ hoop was intercepted for a score and +1. But those are admittedly of minor consequence, and simply a cranky old guy hoping for perfection.
There was a sequence in the 2d which underscored Nwora’s maturation. Up 12, U of L was moving in rhythm on offense, swinging the ball until a man would be open. Nwora took a pass in his favorite spot, only slightly impeded, a situation when he usually fires it up. Instead he made the extra pass to open Khwan Fore in the corner for a three.
Dwayne Sutton was his usual Swiss Army Knife self. The 14/10/ team catalyst.
Darius Perry hit a couple shots late, a welcome sight.
* * * * *
The Cardinals got tweedly down the stretch, unable to handle BC’s press and traps with any dispatch.
But a ten point ACC win is always a good thing.
Next: Georgia Tech in Hot ‘Lanta.
-- Seedy K