By Annie Moore
Louisville’s basketball team will need leadership from its seniors in the quest to defend a national title. Leaders such as Russ Smith, who gave up his starting spot to junior Chris Jones after he had a ‘bad practice’. Moves such as this are what Smith cited as what built the chemistry with he and the members of last years’ national championship team.
“It’s something that, as a team, we understand as a senior, and (Pitino) understands as a coach how much we need to improve,” Smith said. “I haven’t had the best practice, Chris had a great practice. And as far as chemistry goes, we’re just trying to get guys motivated get guys’ confidence up.”
The Cardinals beat opponents, University of Missouri Kansas City Kangaroos soundly, without the help from Smith in the first half. The senior guard had zero points in the entire four half, but had five assists and four rebounds.
Other leaders for Louisville included Chane Behanan, who had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Montrezl Harrell, who led the team in points with 14.
“Well, I thought Chane was the only player on the team that played real well tonight,” said Head Coach Rick Pitino. “I think some guys played mediocre, and some guys played okay, but I thought Chane really played well. Regardless of the opponent, I thought he was doing the right things offensively and defensively.”
The game also pitted Pitino against his former assistant Kareem Richardson, who helped the Cardinals to the national title last year before taking the head-coaching job at UMKC.
“I think his team is playing real hard and that is how you start a foundation of playing hard,” Pitino said. “He is pressing and I wanted to see my team not turn the ball over tonight and we did a good job there. He has to get some talent in there, and he is the guy to that. He is a terrific coach.”
The Cardinals next faced University of Louisiana-Lafayette.