Mar 4, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT
Is Russ-diculous now Russ-ficient?: Louisville’s three-game losing streak earlier this season also happened to coincide with a turning point for rick Pitino and his dynamic off-guard Russ Smith. Smith was benched for the third game of that losing streak, as Pitino was efforting to get Smith to reign-in his shoot-first, think-later mindset. After two games where Smith played much better, the situation seemed to reach a head, as Smith went 3-11 in a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over Rutgers and then put on a disastrous performance down the stretch of Louisville’s five-overtime loss at Notre Dame.
But over the last five games, Smith has been as efficient as he’s been effective. He’s averaging 18.6 points over that stretch, with an average offensive rating of 128.0 during that stretch, up from 109.4 for the season. In fact, if you take away the Notre Dame game, Smith’s average offensive rating in his last eight games is 134.8.
Perhaps what’s most telling, however, was Saturday. Smith finished with 18 points on 11 shots. With less than a minute left and the score tied, Smith drove and, instead of forcing a tough shot, he found Luke Hancock for a three that eventually game the Cardinals the win. Given Louisville’s struggles in late-game situations, this is an immensely positive sign.
You don’t want to play USC in the Pac-12 tournament: Back in the preseason, the Trojans were thought to be a team that could be a sleeper to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament this season. With most of their injured talent returning this season, and with a slew of solid transfers getting eligible this year, Kevin O’Neill’s team was supposed to win some games.
But O’Neill was fired midway through the season after some abysmal performances. With Bob Cantu in place, USC is finally starting to find their groove. After beating Arizona and Arizona State at home this week, the Trojans are now 9-7 in the Pac-12 and have won six of their last eight games, which also includes an overtime win at Pauley Pavilion.
Could the Trojans be this season’s Colorado?
What’s going on at Arizona?: While USC is streaking, the Wildcats are struggling. They got swept at the LA schools this weekend, getting exposed defensively as the Trojans and the Bruins did just about whatever they wanted offensively.
There’s a larger issue at hand here. Arizona is now two games off the lead in the Pac-12 with just one game left to play. The only time that they have beaten a tournament team in 2013 is when Sabatino Chen’s game-winning three-pointer was incorrectly waived off. The Wildcats will be prime for an upset, as they will likely end up getting overseeded thanks to some strong — and lucky — non-conference wins.
Towson: It’s a shame that Towson won’t be able to participate in the 2013 CAA tournament, because this may actually be a team that has a chance to win the automatic bid. They set the NCAA record for the largest turnaround in history, going from a single win to 18 wins this season.
How good is the new North Carolina?: Since going to a four-guard lineup six games ago, the Tar Heels are 5-1, with their only loss coming by five points at Duke. Spreading the floor has been ideal offensively, as James Michael McAdoo is a matchup problem for opposing centers and Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston have thrived with opposing fours having to cover them. Throw in the improved play of Marcus Paige, who seems like he’s finally gained the confidence to lead this team, and the Heels are scoring a ton of points.
But can they defend with this lineup? Well, it appears so. Over these six games, Roy Williams’ club has given up just 0.956 PPP, and their adjusted defensive efficiency would rank in the top 20 nationally.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Jul 21, 2014, 11:43 PM EDT
DePaul redshirt freshman forward DeJuan Marrero will play his sophomore season at Chipola.
Malik Newman, Ivan Rabb, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk among 33 members battling for USA U17 roster spots this week
Jul 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
The USA U17 tryouts have a lot of big names and it will also be important for the last week of the July live evaluation period.
Jul 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
Isaiah Briscoe helped lead the New Jersey Playaz to a title at Peach Jam.
Jul 21, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT
Bruce Brown was a promising two-sport athlete, but gave up football to focus on basketball.
Jul 21, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT
Walker is the second commitment for the Cardinal this spring.
Jul 21, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
Seven additional thoughts on Nike’s Peach Jam, including Ben Simmons’ one weakness, Malik Monk and how college coaches look at parents
Jul 21, 2014, 3:46 PM EDT
The whole situation regarding Jacksons recruitment is weird.
Jul 21, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT
Tatum is the best player in the class.
Jul 21, 2014, 1:54 PM EDT
Seven thoughts from my time in Augusta
Jul 21, 2014, 12:28 PM EDT
The Hoosiers will be in shape come September, that’s for sure.
Jul 21, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
The latest in our series of anonymous quotes from coaches on the players they recruit.
Jul 21, 2014, 10:09 AM EDT
Simmons is a much better passer than you’ll see in this video.
Jul 20, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
After playing sparingly last season, Lucas is hoping to take a significant step forward in 2014-15.
Jul 20, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT
Fans may look to compare Gary Payton II to his father, something both hope to avoid this season, but his role as point guard is an important one.
Jul 20, 2014, 7:46 PM EDT
Djambo’s playing time was unlikely to increase had he remained at Clemson, where he played 9.2 minutes per game last season.
Jul 20, 2014, 6:46 PM EDT
McQuaid’s de-commitment leaves SMU with one verbal pledge in its 2015 recruiting class.
Jul 20, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT
Apparently there were some questions at the Peach Jam regarding the possibility of Simmons returning to Australia in 2015 to play professionally instead of attending LSU.
Jul 20, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Brown won Pac-12 Most Improved Player honors last season, helping lead the Cardinal to the Sweet 16.
Jul 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
The 6-foot-4 Walker played just one season at Stony Brook.
Jul 20, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT
It’s the second commit for Rick Pitino this week.
- Four-star Class of 2016 guard Bruce Brown gave up football to focus on basketball 0
- Seven (more) Takeaways from Nike’s Peach Jam 0
- Seven Takeaways from Nike’s Peach Jam 1
- CBT Quotables Part IV: The Lawsons, Stephen Zimmerman, Malik Monk 1
- Peach Jam Saturday Recap: Rabb, Zimmerman go big, Chris Clarke goes hard, Lawson bros advance 0
- Nike Peach Jam Saturday Recap: Jayson Tatum, DeAndre Ayton and Briscoe vs. Trier 0
- Peach Jam Recruiting Notebook: Jamal Murray plays well, Tyler Davis has big day, Juwan Morgan likes two 0
- Skipping college makes Emmanuel Mudiay the most important player in 2014 class (5)
- Study says Louisville has the best fanbase for second straight season (4)
- Chris Walker looks like he’s spent some time in the gym (PHOTO) (4)
- Indiana’s summer workouts look intense (VIDEO) (4)
- Mother of elite recruit Josh Jackson: ‘Josh hasn’t been recruited by anyone’ (4)