By Noah Allison
I would have started this story ranting about how sophomore power forward, and the team’s third captain Montrezl Harrell isn’t getting enough credit for his production to the team. But at this point I’m not sure anybody can help but take notice at how important his play has been for the Cardinals this season.
On Saturday night in Storrs, Connecticut, against the University of Connecticut Huskies, Harrell went eight of ten shooting from the field for a total of 18 points. An effort that led to the Cardinals to having 40 points in the paint compared to the Huskies 20. Harrell also had 13 rebounds and three blocked shots in his double-double effort in the hostile environment.
Last year as a freshman coming off the bench, Harrell averaged 16.2 minutes a game. This year as a sophomore he has made the transition to being a team leader, proving his right in earning the position of the team’s third captain along with seniors Russ Smith and Luke Hancock. Harrell played 39 of the game’s 40 minutes on Saturday in his spirited effort against the Huskies.
This year, due to the early on and eventual permanent suspension of last year’s starting power forward Chane Behanan, Harrell has taken on the responsibility of increased play time. He has averaged 26 and-a-half minutes as the team’s starting power forward.
But it has not simply been his play at his particular position that has led to him having such an impact for the Cards this season. It has been his overall contribution to the Cards that has earned him the much due current recognition.
On a team that has struggled to rebound well, Harrell has been the lone bright spot. Despite not being the tallest member of the team at six-foot-eight, he is well in first place as the team’s top rebounder with 160 on the season. The second highest total belonging to six-foot-ten senior center Stephan Van Treese with 91.
Harrell is also the team’s second highest scorer with 228 points on the season behind team leader senior guard Russ Smith, who has 349 points on the season. Harrell’s ability to work the low-post better than anybody else on the team has his shooting percentage at 64 percent, the Cardinal’s best percentage with at least 90 shots attempted.
But the stats don’t tell the true story. Montrezl Harrell is simply out there giving it his all to the get the Cardinals a victory. Winning is all the sophomore knows, last year as a true freshman he was the youngest contributor to the National Champion Louisville Cardinals. Naturally as it is all he knows Harrell’s expectations are to be a National Championship team.
The early struggle for these Cards to adapt to the times and the competition of this year had people questioning the ability of this year’s mens Cardinal basketball team. But there is no doubt the National Championship pride, demeanor and work ethic is there. It is just a question of the right players stepping up when their team needs them most.
That is what the Cards of last season were capable of, and this is what sophomore Montrezl Harrell is ready for in this year of defending the title that belongs to The University of Louisville.