At the University of Louisville jersey retirement is not something to be taken lightly. There are hundreds of players who have made outstanding contributions to the program that deserve recognition. Suggesting a jersey retirement is serious business. But Louisville’s Russ Smith is a SERIOUS player and a WORTHY candidate to have his number forever honored in the rafters of Cardinal Basketball.
Russ’ contribution to the Louisville Basketball Record Book is made even more significant when considering that Russdiculous only played 96 minutes (17 games) during his freshman year (in which he wore #24, giving way to senior Preston Knowles). Russ came to Louisville as an unheralded player, forgotten on the bench and nearly transferred. But as a Sophomore Russ Smith transformed Louisville Basketball & Rick Pitino out of necessity on a team that lacked a natural scoring option, and a coach that had to ‘Let Go’ and allow the world to see the greatness (and craziness of Russdiculous).
Russ’ sophomore year sparked a Final Four run and a Big East Tournament Championship. Fans enjoyed his antics off the court as much as they admired his ability to ignite the Cardinals on the floor. Smith broke the single season steals record at UofL off the bench as a sophomore. His junior season Russ became a National Champion and scored more points in a single NCAA Tournament in school history. During his junior season, Russ began his transformation from a scorer to a complete basketball player and it started with a summer in Europe between his sophomore and junior seasons with Team USA: East Coast All-Stars. After winning the Big East Championship, Russ DOMINATED the first four games of the NCAA Tournament for the Cards who would go on to win the program’s 3rd NCAA Championship.
Finally as a senior, Russ cemented his place in Louisville History with a completely renovated game that included reversing his assist to turnover ratio, elevating his FG%, while maintaining his status as a premier scorer and defender. Russ would led the Cards to yet another conference championship, this time with Smith as the MVP, before falling in a thrilling Regional Semi-Final in Lucas Oil Stadium. Russdiculous leaves with numerous honors, and while some are still yet to be announced, Russ Smith leaves Louisville basketball as one of the most decorated and impactful players this program has ever seen.
2013-14 was the 100th Season of Louisville Basketball. There has not been another player like Russ Smith and it may take 100 Years or more to have another player like him on Louisville’s Belknap Campus. His accomplishments and accolades are worthy, Russ’ attitude, humility, and respect are deserving. He’s given Cardinal Basketball his heart and provided the fans a cornucopia of memories to store. Russ Smith left his stamp on Louisville Basketball, it’s time to honor him for his effort & execution and taking the fans on the ride they asked for.
Retire #2. Let it forever hang in the rafters of Louisville Basketball.
2013 NCAA Championship
2014 American Athletic Championship
2013 Big East Championship
2012 Big East Championship
2014 USBWA 1st Team All-American
2014 Sporting News 1st Team All-American
2014 Associated Press 1st Team All-American
2014 NABC 2nd Team All-American
2014 John Wooden Award All-American
2014 Senior CLASS Award
2014 Naismith Trophy Finalist (winner announced April 6th)
2014 Oscar Robertson Trophy Finalist (winner announced April 4th)
2014 John Wooden Award Finalist (winner announced April 4th)
2013 Associated Press 3rd Team All-American
2013 USBWA 3rd Team All-American
2013 Sporting News 3rd Team All-American
2014 1st Team All-American Athletic Conference
2013 1st Team All-Big East Conference
2014 American Athletic Tournament Most Valuable Player
2013 NCAA Tournament MidWest Region Most Outstanding Player
2013 Big East All-Tournament Team
1st Career NCAA Tournament Scoring, 248 Points.
1st Single NCAA Tournament Scoring, 134 Points. (2013)
2nd All-Time Season Scoring, 748 Points. 2012-13 Season
t4th All-Time Season Scoring, 673 Points. 2013-14 Season
5th All-Time Career Scoring, 1908 Points.
3rd Season Field Goal Attempts, 560. 2012-13 Season
4th Career Field Goal Attempts, 1501.
10th Season Made Field Goals, 232. 2012-13 Season
10th Season Field Goal Attempts, 481. 2013-14 Season
620 Career Made Field Goals (12 short of the Top 10).
t8th Career Made 3-Pointers, 180.
8th Career Attempted 3-Pointers, 521.
1st Season Made Free Throws, 222. 2012-13 Season
1st Season Attempted Free Throws, 276. 2012-13 Season
2nd Career Made Free Throws, 488.
3rd Career Attempted Free Throws, 642.
8th Season Made Free Throws, 153. 2013-14 Season
9th Season Attempted Free Throws, 217. 2013-14 Season.
1st Career Steals, 257.
1st Career NCAA Tournament Steals, 25.
1st Single NCAA Tournament Steals, 15. 2013
2nd Season Steals, 87. 2011-12 Season
8th Season Steals, 83. 2012-13 Season
t9th Season Steals, 74. 2013-14 Season.
7th Season Assists, 172. 2013-14 Season.
378 Career Assists (41 shy of Top 10 All-Time)
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