Gary B. Graves | The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Asia Durr credits her Louisville women’s basketball teammates for creating opportunities that have allowed the junior guard to score from all over the court.
Durr is putting up career-best offensive numbers while making sure other Cardinals are involved. Their unselfish philosophy is one reason they’re unbeaten and enjoying the best start in school history — and have an eye on winning the national championship.
Louisville’s chances begin with Durr, who’s showing growth on the defensive end as well.
“I don’t want to be one-dimensional, just a pure scorer,” Durr said. “I want to be a player who passes the ball well, who can rebound the ball well and can guard. I’m trying to become a player who can do more than one thing.”
The Douglasville, Georgia, native is succeeding in many areas for Louisville (18-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which seeks its third Final Four appearance under coach Jeff Walz and first since 2013. Durr began the week tied for 31st nationally in scoring at 20.2 points per game, an average jump-started by her school-record 47-point performance in the Cardinals’ 95-90 overtime win at then-No. 5 Ohio State on Nov. 12.
Durr shot 9-of-15 from long range against the Buckeyes and offered a hint that this season could be different for her and Louisville. The first team all-ACC selection has remained accurate from behind the arc and ranks seventh nationally in 3-point shooting at nearly 48 percent, with her 56 baskets on 118 attempts tying for 10th.
“I really worked on my shot,” said Durr, who is currently 13th in career scoring at Louisville with 1,378 points. “My teammates are doing a really great job of finding me on the court and the staff is doing a great job of putting together a great game plan to give my teammates a chance to find me on the court.”
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Durr’s 47-percent shooting is more than five points better than last season and her solid defensive numbers have held steady. Her approach to defense is what pleases Walz most.
“She has taken pride in that, but defensively is where I’ve been impressed,” the coach said of Durr, who averaged a team-best 12.7 points playing under him last summer on the U.S. Under-23 squad. She also participated in the national team camp with teammate and senior forward Myisha Hines-Allen.
Walz added, “She is rebounding the ball better. All of the things that you might not look at first on the stat sheet, she’s really focusing on.”
Good as Durr has been, the Cardinals’ depth and selflessness means she doesn’t have to do everything.
Hines-Allen, a two-time All-ACC selection, is having another strong season at 13.2 points per game. Louisville’s three other starters — forwards Sam Fuerhing and Jazmine Jones and junior point guard Arica Carter — average from 6.5 to 8.9 points per contest. Freshman reserve guard Dana Evans has a team-high 71 assists.
The Cardinals’ rotation can go 10 deep, flexibility they’ll need in Thursday night’s ACC showdown against No. 2 Notre Dame (15-1, 4-0). The Irish’s lone loss came against top-ranked UConn, which Louisville visits on Feb. 12.
— Louisville Athletics (@GoCards) January 10, 2018
Louisville has lost its last 11 to the Irish and is 4-14 lifetime against them. As Walz tries to focus on big-picture goals for his team, he acknowledges this meeting’s importance towards the Cardinals’ hopes of winning its first ACC title.
Then again, wins against Top 25 opponents this season — Ohio State, Michigan, Oregon and Duke — have Louisville believing it can beat powerhouse programs and establish itself as a title contender.
Durr sets the tone for the Cardinals.
She has combined for 30 first-quarter points the past two contests, demonstrating the green light Walz has given her.
“Sometimes he has to tell me to stop shooting,” Durr said, laughing. “But it’s a good thing when he has to tell a player to stop because that means you’re being very aggressive.”
Louisville is hoping all those good things happening for Durr — and the Cardinals — continue.