One of the hottest teams in the Country, the Cardinals have won seven straight since a 5 OT loss at Notre Dame. Louisville is led by the great combo of Peyton Siva at Guard and Gorgui Dieng at Center. However, the biggest key in the recent success for the Cardinals, has been the help of their role players. Luke Hancock has shown that he can constantly knock down the long-range jumper; coming off the bench and shooting over 50% from 3 pt land in Big East play. Kevin Ware has also been a bright spot for Louisville. Ware has played over 16 minutes his last six games, and has shown that he can give a big lift with his critical 8 pt, 5 rebound performance at Syracuse.
The one fear for Louisville may be Russ Smith. Russ Smith, or Russidiclous, has shown that he can be a dynamite player but also a ‘legend in the his own mind’…at times. Russ Smith’s helter skelter play has been indicated by his last five games. He’s had great performances like against Syracuse and Cincinnati where he scored 18 points each game shooting over 45% from the field. But, like anything with Smith, he’s had forgettable performances. In the home finale against Notre Dame, Smith had 5 points on 2 of 8 shooting; against DePaul he had 17 points but shot 38% from the field and had 4 turnovers.
Will Russ Smith shoot Louisville out of a game in the Big East Tournament or NCAA Tournament? We’ll go with yet to be determined at the moment. But one thing that has been determined, Russ Smith is absolute critical piece to Louisville in the Post Season.
If Russ Smith can play within himself and ‘pick his spots’, Louisville should not only go the Big East Final with relative ease, additionally, they should be a shoe-in for Atlanta. If not…well…who knows. The biggest encouraging sign at the moment? Despite Smith’s frantic play at times when ‘he’s bad’, he’s still managed to post 4 assist or more in Louisville’s last Five games.
Louisville’s Post-Season success may not squarely be on the shoulders of Russ Smith- but he’s surely a factor- whether he’s winning…or losing a game for the Cardinals.