Skip to content

Why Russdiculousness is a good thing for Louisville

Apr 7, 2013, 1:55 PM EST

Russ Smith

ATLANTA — On Saturday night, we got a glimpse of Russ Smith in all his glory.

His dizzyingly-talented, frustratingly inconsistent glory.

He shot 6-17 from the floor. He was 5-12 from the free throw line, missing the first four free throws of the game and two of six in the final minute, which left the door open for the Shockers down the stretch. He had four first half turnovers and five on the game. He played as terribly as he had all season long for about the first 10 minutes of the game, but he never stopped attacking. He never stopped being aggressive. He never hesitated when he saw a gap in the Wichita State defense or had space on the perimeter to fire up a three.

That’s who he is. That’s Russdiculous.

“I stay aggressive. I don’t change my game for anything,” Smith said on Sunday. “We had two games left. If I keep the same game-plan and play the same way, eventually the shots are going to go in. That’s the way I feel.”

And it paid off for the Cardinals on Saturday. Smith finished with 21 points and made some key plays late in the first half to keep Wichita State from pulling away, and his defense was a major factor in Malcolm Armstead’s nightmare performance. Armstead was 1-8 from the floor last night.

That’s what you get when Smith plays.

And it’s taken a while for Pitino to learn that, to learn that Smith isn’t going to change.

“I don’t even bother [yelling at him] because he doesn’t listen to a word I say,” Pitino said.

But here’s the thing: he has. As out of control as Smith has looked at times this season, as crazy as some of those shots that he took last night appeared to people that hadn’t watched Smith play at all this season or in his three years at Louisville, he’s dialed it down this year. He’s making better decisions. He doesn’t shoot the ball every time he touches it this year. He’s making better decisions. He’s becoming more efficient. That’s why he’s an all-american as a junior after a sophomore campaign where he was more of a sideshow than an NBA Draft prospect and a freshman season where he played so few minutes Smith nearly transferred.

Seriously.

He had his bags packed, but a teammate convinced him to show up for a January 26th game against West Virginia. Smith had regular boxers on instead of compression shorts. He wasn’t taped up. Instead of his wearing multiple pairs of socks, he had on just one pair. He happened to play nine minutes that night, but if he didn’t, who knows what would have happened.

Perhaps more than anything else, the reason for Smith’s development has been Pitino’s acceptance that Russ is always going to be Russ. He understands that, on the whole, Smith does more good than bad. Trying to control him isn’t going to make him a better player. You can channel that aggressiveness and eliminate some of the worst shots, but taking away Smith’s aggressiveness would nullify his usefulness.

Pitino gets that.

Barely in control just the way that Russ plays.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Pregame Shootaround: Multiple top-25 teams in action during a solid Saturday

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

    Terran Petteway, Nigel Hayes AP

    A solid Saturday slate features multiple ranked teams in action.

  2. Lauren Hill surprises teammates, fans with another layup in her second college game (VIDEO)

    Nov 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EST

    Lauren Hill AP

    A tremendous story continues to get better as Lauren Hill surprised teammates and fans by checking into her second college basketball game and scoring again on Friday night.

  3. Late Night Snacks: No. 10 Texas wins the 2K Classic without Isaiah Taylor

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:55 PM EST

    AP AP

    Here is everything you need to know from Friday night hoops.

  4. No. 8 Florida needs overtime to defeat Louisiana-Monroe, 61-56

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:45 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Florida nearly coughed up another win on Friday.

  5. The ‘Chaminade Crew’ and how Jonathan Holmes has changed the culture of Texas hoops

    Nov 21, 2014, 11:05 PM EST

    AP AP

    Like the rest of the 2011 recruiting class, Jonathan Holmes could have left Texas. Instead he made the decision to stay, and he and the Longhorns are better because of it.

  6. Early struggles of Syracuse, Kaleb Joseph example of the downside of early entry

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:48 PM EST

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Syracuse is in this position because Tyler Ennis turned out to be better than anyone expected.

  7. UPDATE: Texas loses starting point guard to left wrist injury, out 4-6 weeks

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:00 PM EST

    Anthony Clemmons, Isaiah Taylor Anthony Clemmons, Isaiah Taylor

    Isaiah Taylor injured his left wrist on a hard fall with just over two minutes remaining in Texas’ win over Iowa Thursday night.

  8. UConn advances to Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship game with 75-64 win over Dayton

    Nov 21, 2014, 4:45 PM EST

    AP AP

    UConn will play the winner of Boston College-West Virginia.

  9. Burning Questions: If you could change one on-court rule in college basketball, what would it be?

    Nov 21, 2014, 4:30 PM EST

    ncb_g_shot_clock1x_600x600 Getty Images

    Let’s just say that we aren’t too fond of the current shot clock or the rules regarding hanging on the rim.

  10. Four-star power forward becomes Mississippi State’s second 2016 commitment

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:43 PM EST

    Rick Ray Rick Ray

    Mississippi State’s taken steps forward when it comes to improving the depth and talent in their program.

  11. Burning Questions: Who’s poised to surprise (or disappoint) people in the Big Ten?

    Nov 21, 2014, 1:53 PM EST

    Tom Izzo Tom Izzo

    Two of the four writers picked Indiana as a team that can surprise people in the Big Ten.

  12. Texas A&M receives good news regarding transfer guard

    Nov 21, 2014, 1:02 PM EST

    Danuel House Danuel House

    Less than a week after TaShawn Thomas was cleared to play, Danuel House received the good news regarding his waiver request.