1. Russ Smith the All-American?: Louisville coach Rick Pitino is typically joking with or yelling at junior guard Russ Smith. On Saturday, Pitino lauded Smith for what he's been doing on the floor, calling him "one of the premier guards in the country." Pitino said he wouldn't campaign for All-American honors but it was clear he believes Smith deserves the mentions and former Western Kentucky and South Carolina coach Darrin Horn, who was doing the game for ESPN3 said he was surprised at how good Smith was. "He can do it all." Smith had a career-high 31 points and seven rebounds, five assists and five steals. He only lost to the entire Missouri Kansas City team by 16. We've all heard Russdiculous and all the joking, but not Smith is getting the last laugh. The kid can play.
2. Luke Hancock the "best player": Pitino raised some eyebrows earlier in the year when he called Luke Hancock "our best player." On Saturday, Pitino said that Hancock is showing that "he can do it all. He does everything you want a basketball player to do." Hancock had 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. He scored on a three-pointer, a runner, an old-school drop step, a mid-range jumper and a drive down the lane and flush between defenders.
3. Taking good shots: U of L started the game hitting 11 of 13 shots and while most were in close, the Cardinals passing was the reason. The Cardinals made the extra pass, which gets them such easy looks. For the game, the Cardinals were 37 of 66 from the field and I can only remember a few bad shots. If they take good shots – which means a lot of layups and dunks – and distribute the ball like that did (19 assists on 37 FGs) against the Kangaroos, it will be a special season.
4 A week with no games: The Cardinals now won't have a game until they play at Memphis next Saturday. The players have finals beginning early this week, so that will be a top priority. Coach Pitino will be out recruiting until Tuesday and then the team will spend a lot of time this week on fundamentals and individual instruction, using the time to try and get better. Pitino said on Friday this was one of his favorite times of the season because the players are not rushing around and he can let them sleep in a bit before they practice.
5. A few leftover observations: Tim Henderson came off the bench and hit two three-pointers in the first half. He finished with six. . . . The 15 points were a U of L career-high for Luke Hancock. . . . The Cardinals had 11 players in the scoring column, while 10 had a rebound and eight had a steal. . . . Russ Smith had the most minutes of any player with 27. . . . Ohio State beat Kansas City by 46 and the Cardinals turned around and decked the ‘Roos by 52.