Plenty of praise will be heaped on Syracuse’s non-traditional point guard Michael Carter-Williams after the way he played down the stretch against Louisville on Saturday afternoon.
In just his fourth true road game as a collegian (we’ll go ahead and discount his freshman season that consisted of garbage time), the 6-foot-6 MCW scored 11 of the last 13 points for the Orange in their 70-68 win over No. 1 Louisville at the Yum! Center. The only bucket he didn’t score came off of a dazzling assist from MCW to Jerami Grant. In the final minute, he had two steals, one of which led to the game-winning dunk at the other end of the floor and the other clinched the win for the Orange.
All in all, it was an incredible way to close out the game.
But it also ignores a bigger point: MCW played a major role in the fact that Syracuse had to dig themselves out of a hole.
In the first half, MCW had six turnovers, which doesn’t include the shot clock violation that came when he didn’t realize how much time was left on the clock. By the time that Gorgui Dieng tipped in a missed Russ Smith jumper with 16:25 left in the game, Louisville was up 48-40 despite Brandon Triche playing like a lottery pick. MCW was 1-5 from the floor with five points and seven turnovers. Even while he was in the midst of winning the game down the stretch for the Orange, MCW still managed to find a way to go 1-2 from the free throw line twice in the last minute.
The thing that is concerning about MCW is that this was not an atypical performance from him. Blessed with the kind of length and athleticism that makes NBA scouts drool and the passing ability to justify comparisons to Jason Kidd, MCW is on the radar of every team drafting in the lottery. But he still shoots far too often for a players that, frankly, cannot shoot, he has a tendency to dominate possession of the ball in the half court, and there are times where he seems more concerned with making the sensational happen instead of simply making the right play.
It reminds this scribe of Russ Smith from last season. You could see the ability, if not the decision-making, was there last season, and once Smith became slightly less “Russdiculous”, he morphed into a first-team all-american this season.
Despite displaying every single concerning aspect how his game on Saturday in Louisville, MCW still managed to put the team on his back down the stretch and, quite literally, steal a victory from the Cardinals.
It begs the question: how good can MCW be if he can follow the same path as Smith and eliminate those negative parts of his game?