The No. 1 Louisville Cardinals have been great during the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but it is Russ Smith’s play that should have everyone’s attention.
Smith is averaging 18.9 points per game on the season, but in the Big Dance he is putting up 26 points per game. You could say that is a pretty big increase and you would be right. It is important to note that Smith is also averaging 3.25 steals per game. That number may be a little inflated thanks to an eight steal performance against No. 16 North Carolina A&T, but it is still pretty impressive.
Louisville will be going up against a very good No. 9 Wichita State team, that has been great on the defensive side of the ball. Maybe not as great as the Cardinals, but still pretty good. Can the Shockers stop Smith though?
My guess is no. Smith has scored 23, 27, 31 and 23 points in four tournament games. What makes anyone think that he is going to stop that high scoring trend there? He and the rest of the team now want to win more than ever, since Kevin Ware went down with a gruesome injury. So, Smith and the rest of this team will be playing with a new kind of motivation.
Smith may not be making the most three-pointers in the tournament as a guard, but he sure can make it rain from everywhere else on the court, plus he gets to the free throw line like it is his job. Smith has attempted 40 shots from the charity stripe in the tournament and he has made 32 of them. This 80 percent mark is below his season average, so he could be scoring a couple of more points per game.
Needless to say, Smith is going to find a way to score and there is not much the Shockers can do about it. I guess they could triple cover him. That would maybe work.