Apparently USA Today REALLY wants the award for LCP this year. Rick Bozich is reporting that the USA Today Men's Basketball season preview is now hitting stands. In the preview, they have the Top 10 players for the year. There is one UofL player on that list...and it isn't Russ Smith. It is Trezl. USA Today is apparently drinking the LBA Kool-aid because there are two UK players on the list: Freshman Julius Randle and Sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein. Here is a portion of what Bozich has to say in this article:
People criticize Smith for playing out of control. They're not paying attention. Russ Smith shot 276 free throws last season.
More than Trey Burke, who won the Wooden Award at Michigan last season. More than Cody Zeller, the Indiana big man who was constantly fouled around the rim. More than the sainted Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State. Only one guy in college basketball attempted more. Smith made better than 80 percent of the most controllable points available on a basketball court. That's kind of valuable.
That's one of the reasons that Ken Pomeroy looked at his basketball analytics and declared that Smith deserved to be the national player of the year last season by a comfortable margin.
Now Russ Smith is not one of the top 10 players?
"People say I'm not efficient and I won the efficiency award last year," Smith said. "I just play basketball and I make people's lists sometimes."
How can Smith become a more efficient player in the view of his critics?
"I am efficient," he said. "I can't become efficient in their opinion because they probably never played basketball before. If you win the efficiency of the year award, then you're efficient. I mean, two-plus-two is four."
For the record, these are the USA Today teams:
First: Smart; Doug McDermott, Creighton; Mitch McGary, Michigan; Randle; Wiggins.
Second: Gordon, Cauley-Stein; Harrell; Gary Harris, Michigan State; Aaron Craft, Ohio State
If this weren't enough, if you go to USA Today online, they have Russ as one of their projected 1st Team All Americans. Here is a link to that article
How you have him as a 1st Teamer on your web site and as only an honorable mention in your preview pub is kind of beyond me. I want to file this along with fair catch calls at UConn and on-side kicks in Morgantown.