We're right around the corner from the two biggest games of the season, so I'll be preparing for a statistical-ass statistical breakdown of both Georgetown and Kentucky. But in the meantime, let's take a look at the most unexpected emergence of 2011, Mr. Russell Smith.
As always, the bolded numbers indicate national ranking of the relevant stat. KenPom only ranks the top 500 players for each statistical category.
Russ Smith's most astounding stat is his steal percentage (1). Russ is creating a steal on 7.4% of defensive possessions while he is on the court. This is the best in the nation. For comparison's sake, Ohio State's rosy-cheeked Aaron Craft is ranked (10) with a rate of 5.33%. Russ is still committing 6.5 fouls per 40 minutes, but his ferocity is paying dividends that no one expected.
Russ's turnover rate is 15.3% (488). Considering the typical fan's general perception, this is surprising, but the fact of the matter is that Russ isn't a turnover machine. Say what you want about Russ's shot selection and its propensity to become a de facto turnover, but at least a bad shot has a chance of going in. Chris Smith is the only player on the team with a better turnover percentage at 12.3% (192).
Russ is taking 32.1% of the team's shots when he is in the game (52). This is absolutely not surprising at all, but I felt it necessary to vindicate Russ's Russness. While it isn't particularly troubling by any means, Russ's overall offensive rating is lower than Siva, Behanan, Kuric, Dieng, and Chris Smith. The rate in which the Cards utilize their most efficient players will be a key to improving their overall offensive efficiency, but sometimes it takes a little more.
I only mention it because sometimes there’s a man, I won’t say a hero, ‘cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talking about Russ here. Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s Russ, in Louisville.