On this week’s edition of “Justin Time,” I talk about two of the most beloved Louisville Cardinals of all time, Teddy Bridgewater and Russ Smith. Both guys are beginning that next chapter in their lives and careers, but they will always be Cards. I also talk a little bit about why this Syracuse football game is so much more exciting than it has ever been before, and a little bonus video at the end of the post.
Teddy Bridgewater: Pondering
It was the last Summer League game for the New Orleans Pelicans and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The game is full of a lot of guys just trying to make the roster, some I haven’t even heard of. I am not on the couch watching the game on my nice TV. And that’s because the game is not even on TV. It is on ESPN3. Sure, I probably could have hooked my computer up to the TV and watched, but then this wouldn’t have been as interesting. So I sit here on my Google Chromebook, headphones in, watching an NBA Summer League game on a Friday night. And you know what? IT WAS AWESOME!
Russ Smith and the Pelicans squared off against Gorgui Dieng and the Timberwolves. Both guys played over 25 minutes in the 40 minute game, so there weren’t many times where neither was on the floor. For what it’s worth, the Timberwolves beat the Pelicans 97-78. Gorgui Dieng finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Russ Smith finished with 21 points and 3 assists.
Three former Cards were in action on Thursday in the NBA Summer League, and here is how they did…
*Gorgui Dieng – Gorgui posted another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Timberwolves lost 100-86 to the Kings. He also had 3 assists and 3 blocks, along with 5 turnovers. He shot 5-15 from the field and was 5-6 from the free throw line. He started and played 35 minutes. I would say that Gorgui is in line for a very good season. But if Kevin Love does get traded, he could have a great season. The Timberwolves may not, but Gorgui sure will!
Russ Smith had one heck of a debut in the NBA Summer League on Friday night. Against the NBA D-League Select, Russ played 27:12 and had 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, including an assist on the game-winning basket as the Pelicans won 83-81. 10 of his 20 points came in the 4th quarter, and Russ was a key part of an 18-0 run to take the lead near the end of the game.
Here are highlights from that game.
Rick Pitino met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to give a summer update on the team. It’s only July, and there wasn’t any breaking news, but it sure was nice to hear Coach talk some hoops and about this year’s team! I expected it to be about a 20 minute press conference, but it ended up being just over 45! You can click here to watch the video of the press conference from CourierJournal.com. Below, I will give you the key notes from it…
The new Pelican…
-Pitino started out by talking about Russ Smith. He said that Russ wasn’t pleased with dropping to the 2nd round in the NBA Draft, and wanted to prove people wrong. Instead, Pitino said he should prove people right, and that’s the people that believe in him.
-Also with Russ, he got a guaranteed contract from the Pelicans. That is huge news, as second round picks have to make the team and are not guaranteed a spot just by getting drafted.
Former Louisville Center Samardo Samuels will join Russ Smith on the New Orleans Pelicans summer league roster. Samuels went undrafted in the 2010 draft before signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Samuels averaged 9.5 ppg and 3 rpg for Olimpia Milano in Italy last season.
The Pelicans will play in the Las Vegas summer league that starts July 11th.
New Orleans will play NBA D-League team July 11th 7:30 CST, the Lakers July 13th at 1:30 CST, and San Antonio July 14th at 3:30 CST before beginning Pool play.
If you have any doubts that Russ Smith will succeed in the NBA then watch this video now!
It was a long night for Cards fans watching the draft, but it finally paid off. With the 47th pick in the draft, the Philadelphia 76ers picked Russ Smith. Before that moment could sink in, Russ was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans.
This puts Russ on the same team as former Kentucky Wildcats Anthony Davis and Darius Miller. What is even more interesting is the fact that the Pelicans play the Miami Heat in an exhibition game at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday October 4. Very cool storylines with that team and the local connections. Obviously in that game, you could also have LeBron James if he stays with the Heat. And also, the Heat traded for former UConn guard Shabazz Napier. So Russ vs Shabazz in the Yum???
It is always a good insight into the team when former players (weird to type that about Russ) chime in about the current team. Russ Smith has made a couple of predictions on twitter in the last day or so regarding the Cards and a couple members of the backcourt.
Alhaji Mohammed is all of the above once again. Last night he led his team to his second consecutive Romanian league championship. He led the way with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists for the back to back to champions from Ploiesti. Alhaji, a proud University of Louisville Cardinal, was a part of the past two. Most people don’t know that Alhaji is around the city for most of the summer and does a lot for the community. In my opinion, he has also been key with the development of Preston Knowles, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith as he works out with them all summer and they respect and look up to him. They have a strong bond between them, he refers to them as his Thundercats. This is the tenth year overseas for Alhaji and he hopes the titles aren’t done yet.
We at CSZ also want to congratulate Alhaji on another winning season and hope for many more as well.
Here’s the video that everyone loves featuring Alhaji:
Slots are filling up for Rajon Rondo’s 2014 basketball camp. Now if you ask why I would post something about a camp for a former Kentucky player, I will say this: I don’t even look at Rondo as a former Wildcat. He is from Louisville, wanted to play at Louisville, and still is in town quite often. Also, there are supposed to be former UofL players at the camp, including Russ Smith. And finally, it’s a basketball camp to help kids out. Have to spread the word on that!
Sounds like ESPN Draft Insider is finding out what we all already knew……Russ Smith is good. Last year Russ was a possible late first rounder but chose to come back and work on the things the NBA told him he needed to improve on. Not only did Russ work on those things but he got noticeably better at EVERY thing, yet somehow began slipping down the draft boards as the season went on. Now at the pre draft workouts coaches and GM’s are getting an up close look at just how quick Russ really is and apparently they like what they see. Chad Ford wrote the following in his recent “Draft Rumors”:
Louisville’s Russ Smith is riding on a high since being one of the lone standouts in a two-day league-wide workout the NBA scheduled in L.A. right after the draft lottery.
He’s since gone on to work out with the Celtics, Suns, Thunder and Heat and seems to be moving into the discussion as a possible late first-round pick.
“Everyone knows Russ is one of the quickest players in this draft and he can obviously put the ball in the basket,” one GM said. “But I think he’s been showing off that when he wants to be, he can be a guy who can really play point guard. He seems like a perfect change-of-pace guard who can score and speed
Where Russ will end up is unknown but I, like many, have no doubt Russ Smith will be a name we will hear much more about in the coming years.
The Draft is Thursday June 26th on ESPN.
We all hope to hear Russ Smith’s name called in this years NBA Draft. Here is where the experts see him going:
53. Minnesota Timberwolves (via G.S.): Russ Smith, Louisville, 6’1″, PG/SG, Sr.
I’m not sure there was anything else Russ Smith could have done this year to maximize his draft stock. He maintained his 18-point-per-game average while upping his assist-rate from 2.9 to 4.6 per game.
He even shot 38.7 percent from downtown, his best mark in three years, and measured in a quarter-inch below 6’1″ (listed at 6’0″ by Louisville).
There’s no mystery as to what you’re getting with Smith—an offensive gunner and spark plug who can make things happen with the ball in his hands.
At 160 pounds, he’s not guarding anybody, but in limited doses, Smith can be a guy worth putting in with the hope he catches fire.
PG (Louisville - Senior)
23 years old | 6’1″ | 160 lbs
CBS Mock Draft:
Gary Parrish- 41. Denver Nuggets
Matt Moore- 40. Minnesota Timberwolves
Zach Harper- 48. Milwaukee Bucks
Russ Smith talked with Seth Davis today at the NBA Combine. He talks about what kind of player he is, things he showed at Louisville, and how he has grown as a person.
What confuses me is that of all the highlights they could show of Russ Smith, they chose the Red-White scrimmages? Ok then!
On Friday night, Russ Smith sent out some tweets that were very unfortunate to see. He had sent his National Championship jersey to his dad in a frame. The frame was cracked, so they had to send it back, with the jersey inside. According to this article on Wave3.com, the jersey was marked “yes” to discard, and it was thrown away.
“The employee had marked it to discard yes,” said Erin Truxal, the manager of public relations for Fed Ex Ground.
Truxal said for safety reasons it’s company policy to toss out any returned boxes with broken glass without opening them to see what’s inside.
“You know I don’t have the specific whereabouts,” Truxal said of where the jersey ended up.
She said Fed Ex is now looking for security video that might answer that question. She did not sound hopeful.
“I say this on behalf of everyone at Fed Ex ground. We do sincerely apologize,” Truxal said.
If you haven’t had a chance yet to make it out to one of the autograph signings for Russ Smith, you have another chance on Tuesday. This will be the 73rd autograph session since the season ended. Not really, but it just seems that way.
This one will be at Brownie’s The Shed, which is right off Shelbyville Road just a few minutes past Oxmoor Mall. There aren’t prices listed for autographs, but I think they have typically been in the $10-20 range.