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Smith is Louisville’s great unknown -- in a (mostly) good way


Mike Miller


Mike Miller

My favorite lead from any college hoops story of the last week? Gotta be this from C.L. Brown of the Louisville Courier-Journal:

University of Louisville guard Russ Smith doesn’t always have the best shot selection.

That’s some understated gold, right there. Smith, a cat-quick, 6-foot guard, is famous among Cardinals fans for his questionable shot selection. The guy rarely sees a shot he doesn’t like. He takes 32 percent of Louisville’s shots when he’s on the floor – though he only plays 40 percent of the Cards’ available minutes – and is the team’s least efficient scorer.

Still … the guy’s a gamer. And that’s the other half of Brown’s intro graf:

Yet he drilled his biggest shot in the offseason when he gambled by returning to U of L for a second season after a rocky freshman campaign.

Smith’s game is developing. Slowly, sure, but it’s developing. And there’s little doubt that Louisville’s needed Smith’s skills with the plethora of injuries. He’s incredibly quick, can beat pretty much anyone off the dribble and is even learning how to play the point.

He’s even managed to endear himself to Pitino. Somewhat.

“The good thing about it is it kills everybody’s scouting report when you put Russ in the game because Russ doesn’t know any plays,” Pitino told the paper. “They’re going to look at their coach and say, ‘Wait a second, this isn’t what we practiced.’ Russ goes in there and makes up all kinds of plays.”

He’s a gamer. He’ll frustrate fans and Pitino at times, but Smith’s teammates know he plays hard and is capable of doing great things. And for those of us who aren’t Cardinals fans, he’s quite the show.

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