With the 2012-13 college basketball season quickly approaching, The Cardinal Connect will provide a brief preseason player profile for all 15 members of the team. We’ll take a look at each player’s production from last season and provide what their reasonable expectations should be in 2012-13.
#2 Russ Smith: 6-foot, Guard, Junior
2011-12 Season Review: Russ Smith may have been one of the most improved players in the country last season. Anyone who says they expected Russ to be one of Louisville’s most valuable contributors in his sophomore season is a liar. At times he frustrated me more than any player I can remember, but there were also plenty of other times that he saved the team. Had Russ not provided the spark that he did at times last season, Louisville could have possibly been an NIT team. He averaged 11.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals in 21.5 minutes per game.
2012-13 Expectations: Coach Pitino has spoke very highly of Russ throughout the off-season about how much stronger he’s gotten and how hard he’s pushing Peyton Siva in practice. As odd as it may sound, I’m a little stumped at what Russ’ reasonable expectations should be this season. It’s almost unfair to expect him to be as heroic as he was at times last season. Plenty of fans think it’ll be hard to keep him out of the starting lineup, but when you look at the makeup of this year’s team, I think his role fits perfectly off the bench. I think he will play the majority of his minutes at the two-guard position. The duo of Siva and Smith will be the best defensive back-court in the Big East. If he continues to progress like he has over the past year, Russ will without a doubt be one of the best 6th men in the country.