Originally written on Louisville Card Game  |  Last updated 2/13/13
From all indications, Russ Smith isn’t comfortable as a team player. More comfortable in a lead role. Russ will continue to dazzle at times, scoring plenty of points, making awe-inspiring dunks, creating chaos for opposing guards on defense, with a few steals here and there, causing his fans to rant and rave. But he will also continue to be a ball hog, taking contested shots while ignoring open teammates.  Russ Smith will almost singlehandedly win some games, he will lose some games. He isn’t comfortable with anyone besides Peyton Siva handling the ball when the game is on the line. If Siva has fouled out, as he often does, so much the better for Russ Smith. He wants the ball in his hands, apparently not having much trust in his teammates. He may have reason to be insecure, with all the bobbling and fumbling that goes on under the UofL basket. But it’s not conducive to building unity and cohesion for a team with high post season aspirations. That’s a growing problem for Rick Pitino as his University of Louisville basketball team enters the stretch. At a time when he would normally be focused on tweaking his team for peak performance, Pitino has a key player who often ignores anything he tells him. For two years now, we have witnessed the coach attempting every means possible to effectively communicate with Smith. Sitting Smith on the bench, joking with him, yelling at him, ignoring him, even naming a horse after him. There have been extended stretches of playing under control, only to be offset by inexplicable deviations at crucial times. Russ listens, laughs or frowns, provides some kind of feedback, learns the lessons, then goes out and does whatever he thinks works best, rarely coinciding with the instructions from his coach. Pitino was totally frustrated after the Notre Dame loss, clearly at a loss, running out of motivational and/or behavioral techniques to use with Smith. Should he sit him a game, two games, ask him to transfer after the season, give him free reign? All of these options have to be going though Pitino’s mind at one time or another, distracting him during a crucial part of the season. Obviously, UofL’s 20-5 won-loss record wouldn’t be nearly as good without Russ Smith. However, Louisville basketball is supposed to be about a team coming together in February, getting ready for a run in March. Right now there’s too much concern about Russ Smith and what’s he’s going to do next, and that’s counter productive for the coach, the team and for him.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tom Coughlin calls Jason Pierre-Paul situation a ‘fiasco’

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Tom Brady lawsuit transferred from Minnesota to Manhattan

LeGarrette Blount failed conditioning test

Trent Richardson 'reclamation project not going so well'

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Geno Smith laughed at being ranked last in QB poll

Penn State trash talks Notre Dame Twitter over 'Rudy'

Report: Aroldis Chapman unlikely to be traded

Mets’ trade for Carlos Gomez called off despite reports

Report: Rangers to acquire Cole Hamels from the Phillies

WATCH: Tulo hits first home run with Blue Jays

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Terry Collins writes letter to widow of longtime Mets fan

Jets fans fly "Cheaters Look Up" banner over Patriots practice

Dodgers upgrade rotation in unexpected, intelligent way

For some NFL players, life begins at undrafted

NBA's Africa game: A tribute to Hakeem Olajuwon

Top storyline for each NFL team heading into training camp

Texas QB commit has great anti-Oklahoma T-shirt

WATCH: Tim Tebow does monster leg workout

Farrell: Sandoval's conditioning 'continues to be addressed'

Revis won't wear Super Bowl ring around Jets teammates

Former NBAer Vin Baker now works at Starbucks

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Can Preller fix the mess in San Diego?

Next summer's top 10 NBA free agents

Who is the NL's new top shortstop?

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians calls Jen Welter a 'trailblazer'

Mets still act like a small-market team

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong

NFL upholds Tom Brady's suspension, legal battle likely

Cardinals hire first female NFL coach

Larry Bird: Michael Jordan would kill me in 1-on-1 now

Seau family: HOF broke their word

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker