LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville guard Russ Smith is the Cardinals’ offensive catalyst who plays entirely by feel – often frustrating coach Rick Pitino.
Yet, Pitino knows he can’t win without his frenetic playmaker.
The sophomore is averaging 13.3 points per game in the NCAA tournament and his play will be pivotal when Louisville faces Kentucky in Saturday’s rematch at the Final Four in New Orleans.
Smith scored 30 points in the Cardinals’ 69-62 loss to the Wildcats on Dec. 31. It was the most points any individual scored against Kentucky this season.
But Smith has lapses that raise Pitino’s ire. He is often caught apologizing to his coach. Smith sums up his play saying he doesn’t know why he does what he does.
Pitino coined another term for his inconsistency: “Russdiculous.”
Smith’s antics led Pitino to say during a Monday teleconference that Senegal native Gorgui Dieng is not the only foreign-born player on his roster.
“He’s not from a different country,” Pitino said of Smith, “he’s from a different planet.”