Russ Smith: ‘I don’t understand what I have to do’

Russ Smith Rick PitinoFormer Louisville star Russ Smith was drafted a lot lower than he had hoped for on Thursday night. The 2014 consensus first team All-American was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers — who then traded him to the New Orleans Pelicans — with the 47th overall pick. Some players would be thrilled just to be drafted, but that was clearly not the case for Smith.

“I’m not really mad, I’m just more frustrated, as far as what do I have to do,” Smith told reporters, via WDRB’s Eric Crawford. “I don’t know what I have to do to gain the respect of the people I need to gain the respect from.

“They say we want a guard who’s 6-3 and 180 (pounds) or 6-2, 190, I can’t argue with that. That’s beyond my control. I can’t give you that. But what I can give you is wins beyond wins. I can give you — every time I’ve matched up against one of their highly touted guard I’ve come out victorious, not only this year, but last year and my sophomore year.”

Smith is undersized at 6-feet and 160 pounds. He was clearly annoyed that the Miami Heat traded to get Shabazz Napier with the No. 24 overall pick. Napier, 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, was 0-4 in his four career head-to-head matchups with Smith and Louisville. Napier scored 67 points in the four games and Smith scored 68. Smith shot 53% from the field, while Napier hit just 32% of his shots.

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Camera guy wipes out on Russ Smith during interview (Video)

Cameraman-falls-on-Russ-SmithRuss Smith had a crowded locker after Louisville’s loss to Kentucky on Friday night. Almost every writer and reporter wanted to talk to Smith, who had just finished playing in his final collegiate game. One cameraman even tried to sit on his lap.

Just kidding, but a guy actually did take a spill and drop his camera on Smith. One of the videographers holding a massive camera near him leaned on a chair and lost his balance, leading to a pretty funny exchange. Maybe I’m immature, but I started dying laughing.

To Smith’s credit, he was very kind to the cameraman. We wouldn’t have expected anything less from the guy who visited the Kentucky locker room to congratulate his rivals.

Russ Smith visited Kentucky locker room after loss

Russ Smith Rick PitinoRuss Smith saw his senior season come to an abrupt end on Friday night as Louisville lost to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. The eighth-seeded Wildcats gave the Cardinals all they could handle, and free throw shooting and offensive rebounding prevailed down the stretch. Smith was all class after his final collegiate game.

Like Coach K did when Duke fell to Mercer in stunning fashion, Smith reportedly visited the Kentucky locker room to congratulate the Wildcats on advancing.

As you know, Louisville and Kentucky are fierce rivals. They are two perennial powerhouse programs from the same state, similar to Duke and UNC. Despite that, Smith doesn’t seem to hold any ill will toward the Wildcats.

“It’s tough to go out to your rival,” he told reporters after the game. “But if there’s any team I’d want to (lose) to, I wouldn’t mind going out to these guys. It’s an in-state team. Those guys play hard. I respect everything about their program.”

Smith was then asked if it stings worse losing to Kentucky.

“Not at all. Not at all,” he said. “If it stung then I would have something against their program. I don’t get into the rivalries.”

Of course, Smith won a national championship a year ago. Winning multiple championships in college is not impossible, but it certainly isn’t probable. He has every right to feel proud of the way his collegiate career ended.

Rick Pitino: Russ Smith doesn’t understand scouting by other teams

Russ Smith Rick PitinoLouisville head coach Rick Pitino says there is one more thing star point guard Russ Smith needs to work on to improve his game.

Smith shot 3-for-10 and committed 7 turnovers in Louisville’s win over Saint Louis in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

Quick Rick, talking about Smith’s shaky game, says the point guard needs to learn how other teams are going to play him and respond accordingly.

“Russ Smith has grown so much as a basketball player, but he still has one thing left, and I tried to explain this to him at halftime, but he has a very difficult time, he’s a distracted young man, understanding this. I said, Russ, there’s a lot better coaches than me in the other locker room, but picture if I was in the other locker room. Do you think I would even let you breathe any time down the court? Do you think I would let you breathe? He says, no, Coach, you would double me, you would trap me. I said, so don’t you think the other coaches are doing the same thing?” Pitino said after the game via the Louisville Courier-Journal.

“All the great ones from Michael Jordan to Kobe, they don’t try to score 20 points in the first quarter. They get everybody else the ball and they let the game come to me and the other team fatigues and things open up. So his last lesson is to play like he did in the second half and not come out. He doesn’t understand the scouting of the other teams. He’s all Michael, all Kobe. But he doesn’t get that those guys in the other locker room are a lot smarter than me. He doesn’t get it. So we’re going to give him shock treatment on Monday.”

Think Pitino is frustrated with Smith? Sure seems like it.

Russdiculous has shot 46.9 percent from the field this season, which is his career-high. His assists-to-turnovers ratio is also the highest of his career. If he could just get this last thing down, he’d be all set.

H/T College Spun

Russ Smith escorts high schooler who was stood up at homecoming

Russ-Smith-high-school-homecomingLouisville senior Russ Smith attended a high school basketball game in Kentucky on Friday night, and before he knew it he was part of the show. But this show had nothing to do with his basketball ability. Smith was asked to escort a girl’s freshman basketball player who had been stood up at homecoming.

Smith was at Manual High School to support his friend, who is an assistant coach for visiting team Eastern High School. Tonysha Curry, a freshman at Manual, waited for her homecoming escort to show up and he never did. That’s when she spotted Smith.

“I had an escort, and he had won the homecoming for king,” Curry told WDRB in Louisville. “But he hadn’t been coming to the practices. So, he didn’t come to the game apparently. I was like, ‘There’s Russ Smith. Oh my God. What if he escorted me?’ Everybody was like, ‘Go do it! Go do it!'”

Smith asked if that was allowed and was happy to step in when told that he could.

“I didn’t know,” he said. “It just all happened too fast. She said, ‘Please, it would really make my day, make my night.’ It actually made my day probably more than hers. I’m kind of really happy about it.”

While Smith seemed genuinely flattered, I still think it’s safe to say the young lady was more excited.

“I could not breathe,” Curry said. “I was almost in tears crying. We even had conversations. We were talking to each other. Oh my god. Best day of my life.”

It’s very rare that your date not showing up could turn into the best day of your life, so we’re all glad Smith happened to be in attendance. Kudos to him for being a great sport about it.

Russ Smith throws down nasty dunk against Kentucky (Video)

Russ Smith dunkRuss Smith had an average first half against Kentucky on Saturday, but he showed off his skills with a sick crossover and nasty dunk right before halftime.

Smith crossed up Willie Cauley-Stein and then yammed on Julius Randle. Randle shouldn’t feel badly at all about it; he went 7-of-8 in the first half for 17 points.

Video via @cjzero