Russ Smith headed to New Orleans

The wait was finally over for Russ Smith, 47th pick by Philadelphia in the second round of the NBA draft.Russ-Smith

A huge roar from Philadelphia fans, Russ has made a name for himself, fans ready to embrace him in the City of Brotherly Love. Or were those his New York buddies from Brooklyn at the borough’s Barclay Center?

But wait.

Only to learn a few minutes later that he had been already traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in a deal for guard Pierre Jackson.

The road to New Orleans a long circuitous rout for the University of Louisville consensus All-American. A fun place to play for a guy with a big heart, one who will take full advantage of the opportunity.

Passed over so many times by bigger players but few with as much innate talent and the desire to survive, succeed and win. No one has ever worked harder, so many workouts with so many teams.

Time to go prove himself all over again.

1,700 success stories in UofL’s class of 2014

University of Louisville basketball fans will remember the class of 2014 for Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Tim Henderson and Stephan Van Treese, a class that won a national championship, went to the Final Four twice, and won more games than any other class in the school’s history.

Tim Henderson and Russ Smith prepare for commencement ceremonies.
Tim Henderson and Russ Smith prepare for commencement ceremonies.

Many of the same fans will remember it for Teddy Bridgewater, a quarterback who led UofL to a crushing win over Florida in the BCS Sugar Bowl and a 22-3 record over the past two seasons. With a lot of help from seniors Marcus Smith, Preston Brown, Brandon Dunn, Roy Philon and Senorise Perrry, of course.

Tom Jurich contratulates Sam Swope.
Tom Jurich congratulates Sam Swope.

Receiving an honorary degree was Sam Swope whose local autombile dealerships have contributed millions to University projects like Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and the athletic program over many years.

But there are 1,700 other success stories in the class of 2014, the writers of which, the seniors, who were honored during commencement ceremonies at the KFC Yum! Center last weekend, making the most of their opportunities at UofL, creating memories, preparing for all the challenges ahead.

(Click on photos for slide show or to enlarge.)

Russ Smith’s championship jersey goes missing

The jersey worn by Russ Smith in the University of Louisville’s 2013 NCAA basketball championship game has disappeared and some people at Federal Express are catching some heat.

The jersey was in a frame delivered by FedEx to Russ Smith, Sr. but the glass and frame were broken.

Smith filed a claim, and was told to return the frame, which he returned with the No. 2 jersey still inside, as requested by the company.

A few days later Russ, Jr. is told by someone at Federal Express that that the jersey was thrown away. “So we comply only for them to throw my jersey away and say ‘sorry,’ he tweeted Friday.

Anyone actually believe an NCAA championship jersey was thrown away? Well, if the item was processed in Memphis, home of the Federal Express headquarters and the University of Memphis Tigers, it is entirely possible. A Memphis fan throwing the jersey away out of spite.

Not that difficult to comprehend.  But Jonathan Blue, a Louisville financial wizard and member of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees, apparently isn’t buying either explanation, tweeting this late Friday:

An admirable gesture on Blue’s part but it’s doubtful he will have to make good on the offer. Memphis is a basketball town with more than its share of basketball junkies. NCAA championship jerseys don’t just disappear. [Turns out it was a Louisville packing facility. Was it a UK fan instead?]

We suspect Federal Express, now acutely aware of the jersey’s value and the impending embarrassing publicity, has launched a more robust investigation. Someone at FedEx could be in serious trouble.

Russ Smith adds to list of All-American first teams

Russ Smith’s No. 2 jersey will soon be making its way to the rafters of the KFC Yum! Center, more than likely retired from use by any future University of Louisville basketball players.Russ-Smith-UofLCardGame

He was named a first-team All-American Monday by the Associated Press, the latest in a growing list of such honors, including  the United States Basketball Writers Association, Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News, among others.

Other first-team members are Doug McDermott, of Creighton, Sean Kilpatrick, of Cincinnati, Shabazz Napier, of UConn and Jabari Parker of Duke. If you’re counting that makes three American Athletic Conference members on the first team, the first time that happened since the Atlantic Coast Conference placed three on the first team in 2002.

But back to Russ …

UofL has specific criteria for retiring numbers, and only four players have had their numbers retired. There is one guideline, making it quite clear who can have their number retired, according to Kenny Klein, sports information director.  Link

“To be eligible for retirement of a player’s number, the player must be, at minimum, a consensus All-America pick,” he told Card Game. Only four players in UofL basketball history have earned the honor. They are Pervis Ellison (42), Darrell Griffith (35), Charlie Tyra (8) and Wes Unseld (31).

That leaves room for a little ambiguity but not much, with his contributions to two Final Four teams and the 2013 national championship.