During the Chris Mack Era, U of L has had a periodic celebrity courtside guest.
Assistant coach Luke Murray’s dad.
I mean, you know, Bill Murray is Bill Murray, right? Buster of Ghosts. Scarlett Johansson whisperer. Looper for the Lama. A cool presence.
All that said, and it’s most cool having Carl Spackler in the house for a Cards game, but with all due respect, it’s time for a change.
We need Danny Ainge courtside every game.
Because . . . and do I really need to spell it out for you . . . because the Cardinals alpha dog Jordan Nwora looked over during warmups, saw Ainge, and surely said to himself something like, “Hmmm, the Celtics GM is in the house, must have come to watch me play. OK, Danny, you want to see what I got? Here it comes.”
Nwora was, as it is said, en fuego from the get go.
At both ends, lest we overlook his hustling effort on defense.
How to put in perspective the giddy overwhelmingness of his offensive show?
Because of his anschluss of scoring early on, Boston College coach Jim Christian called for a timeout with 5:59 to play in the 1st. Nwora had just drained his third consecutive trey, this one off a Darius Perry feed for a 37-31 Louisville lead, the Cards’ largest to that juncture.
It was Nwora’s 7th FG in 8 attempts. It was Nwora’s 5th threeball in 6 attempts.
There were spot threes. And step back threes. From the left corner. From the right corner. And the FT line extended.
His 2d half was a redux. He tallied 16 after intermission, crafting a career high 37 for the evening in Chestnut Hill. After the break, he grabbed 6 rebounds for 9 total, and was 6/6 at the line.
Big Hitter, the Nwora.
It was giddying to watch.
So, Danny Ainge, you’ve got an open invite to be in the gym when the Cards ball.
Bill, you too, I was just joking about moving on.
* * * * *
While it’s easy to overlook, given the stellar nature of Nwora’s offensive show, how about Darius Perry?
For the second game in a row, he had 8 by the first media timeout. The points came on a couple threes, one a stepback, and a nifty baseline J.
He finished with 14 points, two assists and two steals. Plus lots o’ D.
* * * * *
Unlike recent weeks, the Cardinals got off to a great start after halftime, scoring on four straight possessions after coming up empty on their first. A couple of Dwayne Sutton FTs on its second foray, then scores on three consecutive follow shots, one by Nwora, one by Steven Enoch, one by David Johnson.
(Louisville had 10 offensive rebounds, and 12 second chance points in the 2d.)
When U of L, thanks to that quick start, pushed it’s lead to 53-47, Christian called for a stoppage at 16:19 without waiting for the media break.
During which 30 seconds of instruction, Chris Mack said, “Let’s go zone.”
Clever ploy, that.
The Eagles scored a follow in the first chance after the short break. But Sutton countered with a deuce. Then Johnson stole the rock and got it ahead to Nwora for a fastbreak snowbird.
U of L was off and running. Literally. Figuratively. BC never got closer than 5 the rest of the way, as U of L stayed mostly with the zone.
86-69 was the final.
* * * * *
Though it came late in the proceedings, and Louisville had the game well in hand, Ryan McMahon had one of those quick strike interludes of his that are ever so heartening.
He made a deft feed to Sam Williamson in the corner for a triple. Twenty five seconds later, he netted one of his own for a 79-64 advantage.
* * * * *
David Johnson continues to be the Energizer Bunny.
Yes, he had four turnovers, and he was only 2/9 from the field, but remember, these are really Novemberish frosh numbers. The rookie’s only been getting significant minutes for a couple of weeks now.
His stat line included six points, six assists, eight rebounds (5 offensive), and three steals.
Those long arms of his at the top of the zone: Daunting.
Dwayne “Solid” Sutton scored 10 with 3 retrievals.
Malik Williams secured 13 rebounds.
Sam Williamson had 5 and 4 with a pilfer. More interesting, to this observer anyway, was that he led the team with a +24 in his 18:22 of action. And was on the floor late for his defense when the Cards were in Let’s Close This Out mode.
The Cardinals turned it over but thrice in the 2d. While forcing 7 Eagle giveaways.
Louisville’s D tightened up. BC connected on 10 of their first 15 shots. But made only 14 of 45 the rest of the way.
U of L’s FT shooting was again mediocre in the 1st. But the Cards hit 11/13 in the 2d, to finish a respectable 20/27.
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We’ve all got our own little quirks and mojos, right? The things we do to aid the Cards in victory.
I’ve got a new one, and thus feel compelled to take some, albeit small credit for the W.
Shopping at the Kroger’s there on Bardstown Road in the Highlands last Saturday morning, I made an impulse purchase of an Atherton Rebel ballcap. Wore it to the Clemson game, an 18 point Card blowout. Wore it last night during BC game, a 17 point W.
So, with the hat, Louisville is 2-0, average margin of victory 17.5, and has ascended to sole possession of first place in the ACC, 1 1/2 games ahead of Duke and Florida State.
Yes, last night’s W was against a less than formidable BC team. But the Cards lost in Chestnut Hill last season. And every league win on the road is huge.
Next: @ NC State on Saturday.
— c d kaplan