I asked my Twitter followers (follow me here if you are so inclined) to give me a one word definition of Russ Smith. Here are a few of the responses:
Spastic. Unpredictable. Unbridled. Catalyst. Random. Unbelievable.
I love Russ Smith. Maybe it is because I see how he is the Yin to Coach P’s Yang. I love how he shrugs off losses and laughs off wins. He genuinely seems to really be enjoying himself almost every game. My youngest son acts a lot like Russ and maybe that is why I am drawn to him (and want to strangle him sometimes- haha).
After the Notre Dame meltdown (I think he got far too much of the blame from the fan base after that game), I wanted to write a review of Russ. He is easily this team’s most fascinating player. Here are a few of my thoughts on Russ.
The way Russ scores and plays is baffling to me- in a good way. If you have seen him up close, you are astonished by how small he is. Not only is he short (5’10” I would guess at the most) but he is small. Built like Lil Wayne small. Seriously, he wears a pair of headphones that are bigger than he is. Has anyone else seen those things he wears? To do the things he does like score in the paint, defend wings (which is beyond belief sometimes), and rebound like someone much bigger (he trails only Dieng and Behanan in total rebounds- let that settle on you for a moment) are very impressive.
Russ is inconsistently consistent. His scoring average has stayed consistent between 18.2ppg and 23.0ppg all season. Would you believe that he has more assists (72) than turnovers (65)? I was surprised by that statistic (although Russ haters will say that many of his FGA are turnovers that don’t show up on the stat sheet). He shoots 82% from the line. Russ is a volume shooter meaning that he needs lots of shots to get his 20 points. He is just as capable of a 12-18 game (like against Miss-KC) and following that with a 3-11 game (like he did against Memphis). Check out his game by game stats for this season and check out how he goes from a terrible shooting game to a great shooting game (click here).
Russ is the prototypical NYC player. Guys from NYC have several things in common:
1) Every player from NYC that I have been around thinks they are the biggest and baddest dude on the court (even if they are built like Russ).
2) Every player from NYC thinks every possession is a challenge to their manhood.
3) Every player from NYC can have their games deteriorate into a glorified game of HORSE or 1-on-1 with their opponent if they feel challenged or threatened.
4) Every player from NYC will be the most maddening player on your team to coach. Their greatest strength- their toughness, is their greatest weakness- their stubbornness. You will love them for their toughness. You will hate them for their ridiculous, childish competitive streak. I wonder if Coach P’s coaches had the love/hate relationship with him when he played?
You are going to get super-human effort from Russ every day. Russ played 56 minutes against Notre Dame. 56 minutes. And we all know that 56 minutes in a Pitino system is like 75 in other systems. Russ’ motor is what impresses me most.
I am an unashamed Russ lover. You have to accept and look past some blemishes to truly cherish the gift we have in him. If UL makes another deep run this year in the tournament, I will be happiest for Russ. He is a guy that has gone from afterthought in recruiting to working his way into the rotation to becoming a bona fide player to being talked about for national POY to being heavily criticized by his fans.
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