By Bailey Putnam, deputy sports editor
Junior guard David Walker was the backbone of the Northeastern men’s basketball team on its road to a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship and subsequent bid into the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament.
The 6-foot-6-inch Ohio native was on the court for 1,258 minutes this season and averaged 37 minutes a game, the most of any Husky. Walker was only absent from the floor for three total minutes in the CAA tournament that spanned over three games.
Walker also shot 39.4 percent from beyond the arc, pouring in a team-high 67 3-pointers this season. Redshirt senior forward Scott Eatherton was the only one to top him in total points, netting 495 as a opposed to Walker’s 454.
Walker shot 86.6 percent from the free-throw line. That statistic earned him the 28th spot among free-throw shooters nationwide.
Walker dished out 119 assists this year, averaging 3.5 per game. He also led his team in steals with 40 this season.
It’s easy to see why Head Coach Bill Coen credits much of NU’s late-season success to Walker’s efforts.
“Over the last four to five weeks, he’s been our best player,” Coen said. “He just does so much for us; he handles the ball, he gets us in the offense, he has great vision so he makes the game easier for his teammates.”
Some of Walker’s best performances came down the final stretch of the season. On Feb. 12, he knocked down seven field goals and went five for six from the line to rack up 20 points against Hofstra University.
A week later, he went went four for six from beyond the arc and tacked on five free throws for 21 points as the Huskies toppled over a top-seeded College of William & Mary team.
Three days after that, he poured in a career-high 25 points in a thrilling overtime win over Drexel University on Senior Day. Walker was a perfect 12 for 12 from the line and added six more buckets on the Dragons.
In the two games leading up to the CAA tournament, Walker had 19- and 17-point performances.
He averaged 14.3 points per game in the tournament and played a full 40 minutes in both the semifinal game against University of North Carolina-Wilmington and the championship matchup with William & Mary. Walker only missed one free throw the entire tournament and buried three 3-pointers in each game.
It’s easy to look back at his phenomenal season, but Walker’s focus is aimed solely ahead at his first appearance in the NCAA tournament.
“Notre Dame is a great team,” Walker said. “I’m anxious to get out there and play the first game.”
The bright lights and large stage can be intimidating to any player who has never been on the Big Dance court before.
According to Walker, the key for his team of first-time tournament players will be to keep their nerves in check and simply play their brand of basketball.
“We just have to go out and play confidently,” Walker said. “We can’t play scared. We have to go out and execute, keep the ball moving and not let the ball stick.”
The Huskies have relied on fast-paced ball movement all season to create opportunities for shooters to get open looks. That style of play will be their best ally against a red-hot Notre Dame team that dropped 90 points on University of North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
Walker will likely be called upon to have another marathon performance come Thursday. According to him, he’s ready to do whatever it takes.
“If that’s what coach needs me to do, I’ll do it,” Walker said of playing another full 40 minutes. “I’m just happy that Coen trusts me enough to play me so much. Luckily I’m in shape and uninjured, so I’m able to play. I’m just happy to be able to play in this game.”
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics