Tag Archives: Russ Smith

Photo by Austin Lassell

Men’s basketball run ends as it falls to Kentucky in Sweet Sixteen

By Annie Moore

The Louisville men’s basketball  team saw its season come to an end in the Sweet Sixteen against in-state rival Kentucky, 74-69.  The loss marked what head coach Rick Pitino called ‘the end of an era’.

 

“We’ve done a lot of celebrating, so we’re going to be gracious in defeat,” Pitino said. “It’s the end of an era.”

 

The game marked the last for seniors Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Tim Henderson and Stephan Van Treese. It also marked the probable end for sophomore Montrezl Harrell — who will be discussing with his family and Coach Pitino options for his future, including entering the NBA.

 

Louisville led its final game of the season for 37 minutes, but Kentucky won the battle on the boards and with all of the Cards’ big men in foul trouble, the Wildcats drove in the paint to take the lead down the stretch.

 

“It hurts,” Harrell said. “For us to be that close, to have a lead like that and give it right back, it just hurts. There’s no other way you can put it.”

 

Smith finished his final game as a Cardinal with a team-leading 23 points, three assists and two rebounds. Hancock had 19 points, and Harrell had 15 points and eight rebounds.

 

“I just want to be looked at as a great competitor,” Smith said. “I respect the game a lot, and whatever it is, I just want it to be a positive legacy.”

 

Van Treese weighed in on his teammate of four years, and what he thinks Smith’s legacy will be.

 

“[Smith] is a Louisville legend, they should probably hang his jersey up,” Van Treese said. “He’s one of those types of players that is very rare to come into someone’s program and do the things he’s done.”

 

Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson and Aaron Harrison all had 15 points for Kentucky. Andrew Harrison added 14 points and seven assists. Randle also added 12 rebounds, while the Harrison twins added eight rebounds.

 

The Cards finished the season 31-6, none of its losses were by more than nine points.

Men’s basketball coasts through AAC Tournament

By Sam Draut

Louisville defeated UConn 71-61 to win the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship in at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. Saturday.

Montrezl Harrell led the Cardinals with 22 points and 11 rebounds.  The sophomore forward’s eleventh double-double of the season was also his third against Connecticut, 26-8.

Senior guard Russ Smith, who had a career-high 42 points the previous night against Houston, scored 19 points and added five steals and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.

Both teams battled back and forth through the first half, but after leading 27-21, Louisville (29-5) closed the final three minutes of the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 37-23 lead into halftime.

Smith and Harrell each had 10 points to pace the Cardinals in the first half.

“These two guys were spectacular, Montrezl is similar to Gorgui, he came in a very good athlete and he will leave us someday as a very good basketball because his passing and shooting skills have improved and he may be the smartest player on the team in terms of a scouting report. Certainly no words to describe Russ Smith, he just is having a spectacular senior year,” Rick Pitino said.

In the second half, Louisville extended their lead to 20 points, their largest of the game, with 14:23 left.  Connecticut cut the deficit, but could not bring the game within single digits in the final minutes.

American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Shabazz Napier, was held to four of 12 shooting, finishing with 16 points and four rebounds.

Napier’s backcourt mate Ryan Boatwright struggled, shooting three of 10 from the field and scoring seven points, five below his season average of 12 points per game.

Junior guard Chris Jones finished with 11 points and four rebounds. Senior center Stephan Van Treese pulled down eight rebounds and scored four points.

Louisville has won five games in a row, and 12 out of their last 13.

Louisville tore through Rutgers and Houston in the first two rounds of the AAC Tourney. Beating Houston by 29 and Rutgers by 61.

Over the three-game stretch the Cardinals had 39 steals and forced 64 turnovers.

“We take it one game at a time and we buy into Coach’s game plan. We try to focus on the defensive end because we know if we get a defensive start that’s going to lead to our offensive break,” Harrell said. “Look at our scouting report, pay attention to every little thing to win the game.”

The win marked Louisville’s third consecutive conference championship and Pitino adamantly stated after the game he believes his team deserves a number one seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

“I judge it from the eye test,” Pitino said. “I’m impressed with our guys and what they have done to win a regular season, the conference tournament, the way we have done it in the fashion we have done it fits the eye test.”

 

seniors

No. 11 Louisville beats No. 19 UConn 81-48

By Sam Draut–

No. 11 Louisville celebrated the careers of the four seniors who have seen the most wins in their careers in Cardinal history as Louisville routed No. 19 Connecticut 81-48 on Saturday at the KFC YUM! Center.

Stephan Van Treese, Tim Henderson, Luke Hancock, and Russ Smith were all honored before the game, then started and played integral roles in the Cardinals first victory over a ranked team at home this season.

Montrezl Harrell led Louisville (26-5) with 20 points and 11 rebounds, his ninth double-double of the season.

“He’s an incredible basketball player right now. He’s improved his passing. He’s improved his dribbling. He’s improved his one-on-one moves,” coach Rick Pitino said.

Hancock paced the seniors in scoring, hitting four three-pointers, finishing with 16 points and three rebounds.

But Smith stole the show, passing his way to a career high 13 assists.  In 30 minutes of play, Smith took just two shots from the field, scoring three points and adding four steals.

“I can’t ever imagine Russ Smith, knowing him, on senior night, would pass up all opportunities to score and get 13 assists. It shows you how much he has grown,” Pitino said. “He got to play point guard and he knows the role of a point guard, which is pass before shot.”

Van Treese, starting his ninth consecutive game, pulled down a season high 13 rebounds and scored six points.

“We need him to play exactly the way he played,” Pitino said. “We need him because now he’s a legitimate player that helps us win the game so now we fully expect him to play that way every night.”

Tim Henderson logged 14 minutes in his first career start and scored two points.

Louisville opened the game on a 17-5 run through the first eight minutes.  Connecticut (24-7) started the game 0 of 8 from the field, but settled in an trailed 30-18 at halftime.

“If we can play that stifling defense, we are a tough team,” Pitino said. “We have been playing 90-100% man this season, and tonight we went all zone, which I thought we played awesome.”

Connecticut’s offensive struggles stemmed from a poor performance from the Huskie’s backcourt of  Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright.  UConn’s two leading scorers combined for 13 points on 4 of 24 shooting from the field.

“The biggest focus on the game was wearing those two guys out physically without fouling,” Pitino said.

After going five games without hitting a three-pointer, Wayne Blackshear connected with three on Saturday and finished with 11 points.

Chris Jones added 10 points off the bench.

With the win, Louisville won a share of the AAC regular season title with Cincinnati.

“We are happy with it, as long as we have a share of it,” Pitino said. “I think that is great and they have had a terrific season. We are excited about it. We will share it with anybody and we had a great season. I am very proud of our guys. ”

Russdiculous

No. 11 Louisville beats No. 18 SMU 84-71

By Sam Draut–

Russ Smith scored 22 points in the second half, hitting six three pointers, leading eleventh ranked Louisville to an 84-71 win against eighteenth ranked Southern Methodist.

The Cardinals second road victory over a ranked team this season was sparked by the senior guard, who finished the game with 26 points, six rebounds, and five assists.  Smith was 6 of 6 from behind the arc.

SMU blitzed Louisville early, going up 18-5 through the first eight minutes.  After falling behind 26-12, the Cardinals finished the final six minutes of the half on a 20-4 run, taking a 32-30 lead into halftime.

Chris Jones kept Louisville afloat in the first half, scoring 13 of his 21 points before the break.

Louisville (25-5) led SMU 43-41 with 13 minutes left in the second half when Smith connected with three three-pointers in 84 seconds.

SMU (23-7) cut the lead to 55-54, but Louisville received another 11 point scoring burst from Smith to put the game away.

Montrezl Harrell scored 19 points and pulled down eight rebounds.  Luke Hancock added 15 points.

The sixth consecutive sellout crowd in Dallas saw SMU’s first home loss of the season, the Mustangs had previously defeated three ranked teams at Moody Coliseum.

Louisville wraps up the regular season with a home finale against UConn at the KFC YUM! Center on Saturday.  The Cardinals are guaranteed at least a share of the AAC Regular Season title with a victory over UConn.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Louisville men’s basketball defeats UConn on the road

By Sam Draut

The Cardinals did not get caught up in the emotions Saturday night in Storrs Connecticut, and instead, walked out with their first signature win of the season.

The eighteenth ranked University of Louisville men’s basketball team defeated Connecticut 76-64.

Midway through the second half, while in the act of shooting behind the three point line, Connecticut forward Niels Giffey was bumped by Louisville forward Wayne Blackshear, but no call was made, as the ball was deflected out of bounds.

The apparent no call enraged Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie, who was quickly charged with a technical foul, and seconds later, received a second technical foul and ejection.

“I lost my composure. And I told my guys that. In the heat of the moment, you can’t lose your composure,” Ollie said. “I just thought it was a foul. We were down by nine, and Niels is a pretty good shooter.”

While Connecticut was fuming, 16-3 U of L quietly extended its lead to 16, leading 54-38 with less than 11 minutes left to play in the second half.

Connecticut came out resilient to start the second half, going on a 6-0 run in the first eighty seconds to tie the game, but Louisville responded with an extended eight minute 20-4 run.

Russ Smith scored 23 points and hit 12 of 15 free throws, scoring ten points in the final four minutes to close out the game.

Montrezl Harrell commanded the low post, scoring 18 points and adding 13 rebounds.  Luke Hancock added 13 points and five rebounds.

With guard Chris Jones out with a hip injury, freshman guard Terry Rozier played extended minutes, contributing with five points, seven rebounds, and two assists.

Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatwright were the only two Huskies who scored in double figures.  Napier finished with 30 points, hitting five 3 point field goals.  Boatwright added 10 points.

The victory over Connecticut marks the Cardinals first win against a team in the RPI top 25, Louisville was previously 0-3 in match ups against teams rated in the RPI’s top 25.

“We’re really starting to play good basketball. Our defense has picked up, our rebounding has picked up,” U of L head coach Pitino said.

U of L will continue its road trip when it faces South Florida in Tampa Wednesday night at 7:00.

 

Photo By Austin Lassell

The Russdiculous-ness continues

By Noah Allison

There is only one team in the nation that has a player like Russ Smith, and that is the

team that has Russ Smith. The Louisville Cardinals’ senior shooting guard may prove to be

one of the most unique, special and potent basketball players not just to come through U of

L, but college basketball in general.

A senior captain for the 2013-14 U of L men’s team, Smith has already been named a an

AP Pre-season All-American, U of L’s first since Pervis Ellison in 1986. Smith has also been

named as one of the 15 members to the Oscar Robertson Trophy Watch List, the award

presented to the nation’s top Division I basketball player.

As a sophomore coming off the bench, Smith led the Cardinals in scoring and steals. As a

junior starting for the National Champion Cardinals he proved to be automatic points as the

team’s leading scorer and a shutdown defender as a pivotal part of the nation’s top defense.

Now, as a senior, Russ may prove to be more Russdiculous than ever.

But the day after the Cards had cut down the nets, the news had been released that Smith

was forgoing his senior year to declare for the NBA Draft. Card Nation held their breath on

the matter, hoping that their beloved hero would come back to help defend the title.

“I really realized how much I love playing with my teammates and how much fun it is

to win and be a national champion. Coming back for me was mainly because of coach, my

teammates, the Louisville campus, the community and graduating,” Smith said. “I love to

win and with the group we got coming back I want to be able to go out as a winner as well

as get my degree.”

Basketball’s only one-man fast break averaged 18.9 points as a junior. He led the Cardinals

in scoring with 748 points. The second-highest team total is 401 points. Smith clearly

understands that the mores shots you take, the more shots you make as he led the Cardinals

in shots attempted at 560, the second highest being 344, and shots made at 232, the second

highest being 152. Smith was also second on the team in steals with 83, and assists with 116,

both behind senior point guard Peyton Siva.

“We needed him to score, we had a big void in our scoring and I gave him total freedom

on offense to take some of the bizarre shots he takes every now and then. But I needed him

to do that. He needed to play a role for our basketball team. He had to score, without his

scoring ability, getting to the foul line, we wouldn’t have won a National Championship,

gone to two Final Fours and won three Big East Championships. He has done everything

I’ve asked him to do at the offensive and defensive end,” Head Coach Rick Pitino said.

Smith returned his senior year not only to lead the Cardinals to another championship

but also to improve his game to better prepare himself for the NBA.

“He has a number of goals that he wants to accomplish. Remember now, here is a young

man that wasn’t highly recruited coming out of high school. He was about 140 pounds

when he went to prep school, and came in here and has not only gained 20 pounds, but has

become one of the premier guards in the nation,” Pitino said.

While Card Nation cannot wait to follow Smith’s professional career, they are far more

excited to see what he can accomplish in his final year as a Cardinal. Smith’s journey as

a Cardinal is as unique as his style of play, after a freshman year where he only scored

38 points there was a chance of him not even returning. In his sophomore year he was a

sparkplug off the bench, placing second on the team in scoring with 449 points.

Now as a senior Smith has a miniscule chance at Dr. Dunkenstein’s, the hometown

legend Darrell Griffith’s U of L scoring title. It will be almost impossible as Griffith’s record

stands at 2,333 points and Smith currently has 1,235 career points.

But there is one thing that Smith has a chance to do that the Doctor and no other Cardinal

has been able to accomplish. Win back-to-back National Championships.

Power in the backcourt

By Sam Draut

The Louisville Cardinals add three new pieces to the backcourt this year to go along with

senior Russ Smith, junior Kevin Ware, and senior Tim Henderson.

Junior Chris Jones is a junior college transfer from Northwest Florida State College. The

5-foot-10 point guard was the 2013 National Junior College Division Player of the Year by

the National Association of Basketball Coaches and was a two-time first team Junior College

All-American.

“I think Chris is a terrific basketball player, he was the junior college player of the year for

a reason,” Head Coach Rick Pitino said.

The transition from junior college to Division I can be difficult, especially with Jones

taking the reins of the Cardinal offense.

“I’m learning how to play fast all the time and change speeds all the time, and that was the

biggest transition from juco to D 1,” Jones said.

Jones averaged 21.8 points per game last season, he is a known scorer who uses his

strength and speed to get to the rim, but he continues to work on his game.

“I’ve been working on my shot a lot more,” Jones said.

Jones replaces Peyton Siva, a three-year starter who graduated last season after leading U

of L to consecutive Final Fours and a National Championship. Jones’s score-first mentality

is in stark contrast to Siva’s pass-first mindset.

“There’s no pressure on me trying to replace Peyton because we have two different

games,” Jones said. Despite his small stature, Jones averaged 5.1 rebounds per game

“I’ve always been a rebounder,” Jones said.

Freshman Terry Rozier comes from Hargrave Military Academy where he averaged 29.3

points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists in his one year at prep school. Rozier committed to U of

L in September 2011 as a high school senior from Shaker Heights in Cleveland, Ohio, but

then spent a year of prep school to improve his academic standing.

“When Richard recruited him, he thought he was one of the top three or four players in

the country,” Pitino said. Rozier was rated 74th overall in the 2012 ESPNU Top 100 players.

The 6-foot-1 guard will play both point guard and shooting guard during the year.

“He’s a pro, he doesn’t show a whole lot of emotion, he plays every possession just like a

pro would play,” Pitino said.

Defensively, the transition to high school to college can be difficult, but Rozier has the

luxury of defending skilled guards in practice.

“If you don’t play defense you can’t play for this team, so that’s why I want to challenge

myself everyday guarding guys like Russ Smith,” Rozier said.

Similar to Jones, Rozier understands the importance of rebounding from the guard

position.

“Rebounding is not a skill, it’s all about toughness,” Rozier said.

“Terry Rozier has always been a great rebounder, Chris has always been a great

rebounder, so with those two guys, you don’t look at their size, you look at the size of their

heart,” Pitino said. The two talented guards will be interchangeable at either guard spot.

Their versatility will aid Smith and Ware in a crowded backcourt.

“We’ve been playing with a two point system, it’s worked well because both of those

guys are very difficult to guard,” Pitino said. “Those two guys are very talented, and I’m very

pleased, they are exactly what we needed.”

A nearly forgotten member of the backcourt is freshman Anton Gill. The 6-foot-4 guard

attended Hargrave Military Academy last year with Rozier and averaged 28.2 points, 5.3

rebounds and 4.1 assists. Gill and Rozier have a particular comfort level after playing with

each other last season.

“I know everything he is going to do before he does it, and he knows the same about me,

so it’s definitely easier when we are on the floor together,” Gill said. Gill was ranked No. 29

nationally in the Scout.com Top 100, 40th in the ESPN 100, and 48th nationally by Rivals

Top 150, but now he transitions to the college game.

“It’s a totally different game, its faster, guys are stronger, everybody is better. I try to

come off the bench and stay aggressive, I find a lot of open shots because guys like Chris,

Terry, and Russ get into the lane.”

With the injury to senior forward Luke Hancock, Gill could see some time at the small

forward position and has played it during practice.

“It’s a little more difficult because I’m not the strongest guy,” Gill said. “But it’s something

I will keep working on.”

Jones, Rozier, and Gill help to form one of the deepest back courts in the country. The

three newcomers will see crucial minutes throughout the season.

Photo By Austin Lassell

Second Red-White basketball scrimmage

By Sam Draut

 

The University of Louisville men’s basketball team held their second intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday at the

KFC YUM! Center. The Red team defeated the White team 70-65.

The Red team was led by guards Chris Jones and Terry Rozier. Jones finished with a game-high 24 points on 8-

of-15 shooting, he also added seven rebounds and four assists. Rozier scored 14 points to go with eight rebounds

and five assists.

U of L head coach Rick Pitino was impressed by the newcomers rebounding ability.

“For Chris being 5’9” and Terry being 6’1” you get 15 rebounds from the one and two spot, which is terrific, the

guards didn’t rebound on the White team,” Pitino said.

Despite having Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell, the White team was outrebounded 42 to 24.

Russ Smith led the White team with 22 points and eight assists, but also committed nine turnovers.

“He didn’t play well today,” Pitino said. “Russ didn’t get a break. He was trying to take on everyone by himself.”

Harrell finished with 14 points and six rebounds while Behanan added 13 points and nine rebounds.

“It was much better defense this week than last week, and hopefully we will combine to see better things next

scrimmage,” Pitino said.

The Cardinals final intra-squad scrimmage is at 1 P.M. on Sat. Oct. 19 at the KFC YUM! Center.

UNBREAKABLE

Unbreakable: Louisville’s Inspired 2013 Championship Run

In celebration of the University of Louisville’s NCAA Championship victory over the University of Michigan, The Louisville Cardinal, the independent student newspaper, is proud to announce the publication of “Unbreakable: Louisville’s Inspired 2013 Championship Run,” an instant book released by Triumph Books.

The 128-page full-color book, available on April 15, is packed with Louisville Cardinal stories and dramatic photos from throughout Louisville’s historic season, including the Cardinals’ inspiring NCAA tournament run!

The softcover book includes profiles of head coach Rick Pitino, Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng, Luke Hancock and other Louisville stars. Plus, there is a bonus section on the Louisville women’s run to the Final Four.

“The staff of the Louisville Cardinal rose to the occasion to produce an instant championship book,” said Mickey Meece, the adviser. “The photography and features and profiles capture the spirit of the team and the jubilation of Card Nation.”

Relive the heart-stopping moments and unforgettable accomplishments of a team that won America’s heart. Enjoy the work of student journalists, with an introduction by Louisville’s renowned sports journalist Billy Reed.

About the book: Full-color glossy, softcover, 8.5 x 11 inches, and 128 full-color pages

Pricing
Only $14.95, plus $6 shipping and handling
Add $1 S&H for each additional book.

How to Order
Contact The Louisville Cardinal; office@louisvillecardinal.com, Call Lisa Potter, business manager: 502.852.0701, Fax: 502.852.0700.

Order online at www.triumphbooks.com

Or call IPG at 1-800-888-4741, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

 

The Louisville Cardinal Inc. is a nonprofit organization. Proceeds from the book will go to buy equipment, train and support student journalists at the University of Louisville. To interview the student journalists, please contact Mickey Meece.

Luke Hancock, sealing the deal. Click to see all of our photos from last night.

Cardinals oust scrappy Shockers with late rally

Louisville to take on Michigan for the NCAA title

Luke Hancock, sealing the deal.
Photo by Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal
See all of our photos from last night.

By Randy Whetstone Jr. – 

Louisville will compete for its third national championship in school history Monday, after coming from behind to beat the feisty Wichita State Shockers, 72-68, on Saturday.

The Cards have won 15 in a row and compiled a 34-5 record – the most wins in team history. Michigan defeated Louisville’s Big East foe Syracuse, 61-56, in the other semifinal contest to set up the title game – Louisville’s first since winning it all in 1986.

After the tense win, forward Chane Behanan said: “Having not been in a national championship in, – I don’t know when – before I was born, and having the most wins in Louisville history, that’s big, too. I’m glad to be a part of this tradition; it’s just an honor and a blessing.”

Luke Hancock came off the bench in the first half but started the second half and led a late rally for No. overall seed Louisville team, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the second half. Hancock hit a clutch three-point shot, which gave Louisville a five-point lead, 65-60, with 2:06 remaining in the ballgame.

That provided enough cushion for the Cards as they nursed a small lead, and a two-possession game. Free throws by Russ Smith and Hancock sealed the win for Louisville 72-68 placing them in position to win a national championship.

As a whole, Louisville didn’t play with the dominant demeanor everyone has been accustomed to see throughout the game. Many starters struggled and Coach Rick Pitino gave credit to Wichita State.

“Four of our starters had their worst night of the season,” Pitino said. “We had to win this game with our second unit of Stephen Van Treese, a walk-on, Tim Henderson, one of the best six men in all of basketball Luke Hancock, and Montrezl Harrell. There’s a reason our starters played poorly: it’s because Wichita State is that good. So we’re really happy to play in the final game.”

Louisville fans tried to rally the team and especially to pull for the injured Kevin Ware, holding “Win for Ware” signs. Ware was present with his teammates physically on the sideline, and present with the team spiritually on the court. In his physical absence on the court Hancock picked up the slack. Senior guard Peyton Siva in a poor shooting night, going 1-9 from the field, 0-5 from three point land, was encouraged by the efforts of his teammate.

“Luke is an excellent player and an excellent person,” Siva said of the co-captain. “He really showed his leadership out there tonight. He showed his leadership when Kevin got injured. He’s just an all-around great player and person. Tonight, he showed the world what he is capable of doing.”

The Cardinals found themselves in unfamiliar territory when they were down 12 in the second half. Russ Smith led the team with 21 points and explained his emotions when his team was so far behind.

“I feel like when it went to 12, I looked at it and the time kept going down and we kept fouling,” Smith said. “I was actually waiting for our run, and it happened; Luke exploded, then Chane exploded. It kept going and going, and obviously I knew it wasn’t my night, but I was so happy to see everyone else contributing; it was so special.”

One unlikely contributor was walk-on guard Tim Henderson. Henderson gave oxygen to Louisville when everyone in red was gasping for air. Behanan, who finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, commended his teammate for hitting two three-pointers to cut the lead to six.

“He does that in practice all the time, and I’m just happy it converted when it counted, Behanan said. “He gave us two big three’s down in the clutch. He contributed with Luke, myself, and Russ and I’m just happy we pulled it out.”

Siva, in assessing his performance with seven points, said, “It was just one of those nights.” After exalting his teammates, Siva said, “I just wanted to win. That’s all that mattered to me, whether my shot was falling or not, as long as we won I was fine with how everything panned out.”

Smith was pleased with the effort as Louisville dug in deep to rally to victory. “We just played super hard,” Smith said. “Nobody wanted to go home. Wichita State did a great job of hanging with us, sticking with their game. We just fought really hard.”

Coach Pitino will be coaching for his second National Championship. His win percentage in tournament play is 74 percent ranking him fifth among active coaches, and 13 all-time. He has led Louisville to three final fours, with this being his first attempt at finishing the season on top. Louisville will have one day to prepare for the grand finale versus the Michigan Wolverines. Both teams have the two best backcourts in the nation, one player being Trey Burke who was recently named national player of the year.

sports@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal