No, truth be told, it could not.
So, the Grande Dame of College Hoops forever and always, World Famous Freedom Hall got its first taste of Russdiculousness.
Russ Smith is arguably the most beloved Cardinal ever. At the very least, he’s in the conversation with Grif and Westley.
That stature was improbably — or not so improbably — enhanced Tuesday night.
In The Ville’s opening round TBT tilt with War Ready (mostly Auburn ballers), the former Cards++ needed six more points to reach the Elam Ending Target Victory Score of 91.
Russ, defying Coach Marc Lieberman’s belief that you shouldn’t go for treys during that unclocked final segment, hoisted one up anyway. You could hear The Rick’s tasseled loafer slamming the hardwood from wherever he was watching.
The possession was saved when stalwart contributor, EKU grad Nick Mayo snared an offensive board. When the hero of that Syracuse finale years ago, Kyle Kuric, fed Russ the orange, he again pulled the trigger.
String Music Freedom Hall Louisville, Kentucky.
After grabbing a miss on the defensive end, Smith drove it up court himself along the right sideline.
And, closely guarded, slightly off balance, almost falling out of bounds from 25 feet away, he launched again.
Of course, he did. Of course, it found the net.
The crowd of 5,000 + went bonkers.
The Ville plays . . . some team or another (Does it matter whom really?) . . . Thursday night at 8:00. Tickets are available.
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Until Russ’s heroics, the real star of the game was former Norris Placer Chris Dowe.
The ex-Bellarmine Knight was solid and steady in relief of the ’13 title tandem of Smith and Peyton Siva. 13 points, 5/7 FG, 3/4 FT. 5 rebounds. 2 assists.
Chinanu Onuaku tallied 16, along with 8 retrievals and four assists.
The aforementioned former Maroon Mayo was also strong off the bench with 16 and six.
(Rakeem Buckles was a DNP. Apparently he’s nursing a leg injury.)
Siva led The Ville with 7 assists. A couple of no look dimes were glorious.
The Ville played relentless, trapping, yes tenacious D. And gave it away a mere 5 times, which is pretty amazing given how few practices they’ve had together. Credit Coach Lieberman.
* * * * *
It was a Cardinal hoops family affair. Plus Jeff Brohm just off the plane returning from his “I don’t know how many interviews I did” ACC pigskin media show and tell. The Cardinal football coach sat next to hoops mentor Kenny Payne, and they seemed totally engaged the entire evening.
Josh Heird was in the house. Along with Cardinal head SID Zach Greenwell.
And a plethora of former Cards. Including Grif, Milt, Silent L, David Johnson and Jordan Nwora.
Also a majority of the current Cardinal squad, who stood entranced at the south end of the court.
It was just too fun being in a raucous Freedom Hall again, watching the glamor and excitement of such as it was Cardinal basketball.
— c d kaplan