As a much-heralded freshman center at La Salle last season, Aaric Murray at times fancied himself to be an updated version of Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, which is to say a big man with a sniper’s long range. The Glen Mills product cranked up 86 three-pointers, draining 31 for a decent 36.1 percentage. Trouble is, Murray’s shots from beyond the arc sometimes left him out of position to go to the offensive glass.
The 6-10, 250-pound Murray presumably hasn’t lost his feathery outside touch, but he’s playing more these days like the low-post banger the Explorers probably could use more than another perimeter shooter, now that senior guard Ruben Guillandeaux has recovered from the stress fracture that limited him to the four early games he played during the 2009-10 campaign. Guillandeaux has swished at least one trey in his last 12 games, and in 16 of his last 17 contests, freeing Murray to use his length and heft closer to the basket.
Heading into tonight’s game at Boston University (4-5), La Salle (5-3) is discovering Murray is as much or more effective as a Clydesdale than as a thoroughbred. He’s attempted only five three-pointers, sinking two, but he’s been a powerful inside presence, averaging 17.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.3 blocked shots and 1.4 assists. He had a school-record nine blocks in the season opener against Morgan State, and is coming off a 23-point, 13-rebound effort in Saturday’s 92-87, double-overtime loss to Oklahoma State in the Palestra, his third double-double of the season.
Coach John Giannini’s Explorers are in the midst of a 35-day stretch in which seven of the eight games they play (six at Gola Arena, one at the Palestra) are at home, with the next such matchup a Sunday afternoon hosting of Big 5 rival Villanova at Gola Arena. But tonight’s “road” game, at Agganis Arena, might not seem like one so much when you consider the Terriers’ extensive Philadelphia connections.
Not only is second-year head coach Patrick Chambers a former Villanova assistant, but associate head coach Brian Daly played at St. Joseph’s, assistant coach Dwayne Killings played at Temple and assistant coach Ross Condon played at `Nova. And if all that weren’t enough, seven BU players have ties to Philly -- Darryl Partin is a transfer from La Salle, while Dom Morris, H.J. Gaskins and Travis Robinson all played at Friends Central, Matt Griffin at St. Joe’s Prep, D.J. Irving at Archbishop Carroll, Chris Kurtz at Penn Charter and Mike Terry Jr. at Northeast Catholic.