BOZICH | Monday Muse: Russdiculous on fire; Paying Shaq; Recruit - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Monday Muse: Russdiculous on fire; Paying Shaq; Recruiting buzz

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Rick Bozich delivers the Monday Muse. Rick Bozich delivers the Monday Muse.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Sometimes I can’t help myself. I watch the University of Louisville basketball team make four field goals in one half and then labor to crack the 40-point barrier against Virginia, and this is what I wonder:

What would Russ Smith do?

How would Smith shake away from Virginia defenders to get points for himself as well as for his teammates? Wouldn’t he force the Cavaliers out of their deliberate comfort zone?

We’ll never know. Smith left Louisville before the Cardinals made their move into the Atlantic Coast Conference. Two seasons later, he is still trying to find his place in the NBA.

And, he’s still worthy of the leadoff position in the Monday Muse because some of the things Smith does remain Russdiculous.

1. Give Russ A Chance

A note to NBA general managers who have become fans of the Monday Muse: Take a good look at what Russ Smith is doing in the NBA Developmental League. Take a look at the stiffs you’ve got on your rosters.

Fix it. Give the kid a chance.

Smith is playing like a guy who is ready to leave the Delaware 87ers as soon as he can be driven to the Philadelphia airport.

He’s scored at least 30 points in three of his last four games. He made 12 of 20 shots Saturday night. Don’t ask if he was playing Hero Ball. He had 18 assists to go with his 30 points. Smith made 16 of 17 free throws Friday night. He’s not all jump shots. He drives. He passes. He certainly defends.

Smith has only played eight games for Delaware since he was released by Memphis, but he’s already climbed to the No. 3 spot, behind Ronald Roberts Jr. and Elliot Williams, on the list of top prospects at the D-League web site.

All Russ Smith needs is a legitimate chance.

2. Ken McDonald and DeAndre Liggins Sightings

Smith isn’t the only guy with local connections who is trying to take advantage of another opportunity in the D-League.

Add former Western Kentucky coach Ken McDonald and former Kentucky guard DeAndre Liggins to the list.

McDonald will coach the Western Conference all-stars at the D-League all-star game in Toronto Feb. 13. He works for the Austin Spurs. Liggins will play for the East team. He’s averaging 13.3 points for Sioux Falls.

McDonald was fired by former WKU athletic director Ross Bjork four years ago in the middle of the season. He had a pair of decent seasons with Darrin Horn’s recruits but when things started to go bad, they went very, very bad. His career was on the rocks. Maybe he can save it.

Credit to Liggins. Some guys would have headed to Europe by now. He is still grinding.

3. Did Shaq Get Paid?

One of the biggest (non) stories in college basketball over the last 10 days has been debate about whether Shaquille O’Neal was paid during the three seasons that he played for Dale Brown at Louisiana State.

O’Neal started the fuss by telling an interviewer that he was paid during his time at LSU. Then, predictably, O’Neal said that he was kidding. Hah-hah. Even the line about the statute of limitations was a joke, everybody.

What do I think?

Not sure. But I do know this:

I have no doubts that freshman Ben Simmons went to Louisiana State strictly for the coaching that only Johnny Jones could provide.

4. Recommended Reading

I hear the things that basketball fans say to officials and cringe. I watch the way that coaches stomp their feet and howl at nearly every call and wonder if they ever tell the guys in striped shirts they have done good work. They should.

Is there another side to the story?

You bet there is. And Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated did a wonderful job telling it in this piece he wrote about college basketball official John Higgins, one of the guys who worked Louisville’s 2013 title game victory over Michigan.

Read the story. It’s worth your time. You’ll even discover how much money the top officials make per game. You’ll be surprised.

And maybe you'll stop screaming personal insults at the officials. But I doubt it.

5. Harbaugh Mania

Don’t ask me which school is going to sign the nation’s best college football recruiting class. We won’t have the answer for three, three or maybe five years.

You can ask me this: Which school is going to stage the most elaborate signing day party?

Michigan and Jim Harbaugh.

The guest list for the Wolverines’ signing party reads like the ESPYs: Derek Jeter, Tom Brady, former pro wrestler Ric Flair, musicians Migos and Mayor Hawthorne, former Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan; former big-league manager Jim Leyland; NASCAR driver Brad Keslowski, Lou Holtz and more.

I’ll stand by my prediction that Harbaugh will win a national title at Michigan during his first five seasons on the job.

Who's with me?

6. Where Are the Top Football Recruits Now?

Apparently, I’m not the only one who believes the best time to evaluate recruiting classes is after guys have played a healthy chunk of their college careers.

Noah Trister of the Associated Press is operating on the same frequency. As recruiting addicts hold their collective breath waiting for the decision of Rashan Gary, allegedly America’s top overall prospect, Trister looked back at the careers of the top recruits over the last 10 seasons.

Guys like Ronald Powell. And Terrelle Pryor. And Matt Barkley. And Jimmy Claussen.

Who?

You can read the list – and the story here.

7. First-Round Pick for Hoosiers

Nobody was hyperventilating when Kevin Wilson announced his recruiting class at Indiana four years ago. It included a tight end from Elkhart, Ind., who had yet to completely grow into his massive 6-foot-7 frame.

His name was Jason Spriggs.

According to Rivals.com, even though Spriggs grew up less than 30 miles from Notre Dame and 150 miles from Ann Arbor, his only other FBS scholarship offers were from Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan.

He signed with Indiana. He moved to left tackle. He started for four seasons.

Last week Spriggs participated in the Senior Bowl, the all-star game that draws the most NFL scouts.

And he was voted the top offensive lineman.

Not bad for a three-star recruit who couldn’t get a sniff from any other Big Ten schools.

8. The Last Word

Cam Newton is not the only NFL quarterback that some fans love to fuss about. There is a considerable knot of Chicago Bears fans who cannot wait until somebody other than Jay Cutler plays quarterback for the Bears. (Sorry, Dave Ragone, who was recently name the Bears’ quarterbacks coach.)

That list of fans included Elizabeth Porter Bowman, of Northbrook, Ill., who passed away in early January.

How do I know that?

I read Bowman’s obituary, which was published in the Chicago Tribune. It included this paragraph:

“She was a woman of loyalty, integrity, opinion, curiosity and intelligence. She was a lifelong fan of the Cubs, Blackhawks and Bears (except Jay Cutler.)”

Ouch.

But as a Bears’ fan, I’m with you Elizabeth.

9. The Todd Frazier Report

My weekly reminder that Item Nine is reserved for baseball until further notice. Several quick items:

*Former Louisville Bat and Cincinnati Reds infielder Todd Frazier was a major hit in his debut with White Sox fans and teammates last weekend. He’ll play third base and hit cleanup in Chicago, providing protection for White Sox slugger Jose Abreu.

The adjustment his teammates will have to make won’t be to Frazier’s bat or glove. It’s Frazier’s voice. Said Sox center fielder Adam Eaton:

“It’s seems like he’s extremely East Coast. I feel like I’m talking to somebody from the mafia.”

Sounds like Frazier made Eaton an offer he couldn't refuse.

*Two members of Louisville’s 2013 College World Series team have drawn invitations to spring training camps with their major-league clubs. Center fielder Adam Engel will report to camp with the White Sox in suburban Phoenix while relief pitcher Nick Burdi will have a chance to make the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers, Fla.

Engel is likely at least a year away. Don’t be surprised if Burdi pitches in the big leagues this season. Guys who throw 101 mph with 91 mph sliders move fast.

10.  Poll Results

Which team would you like to see win Super Bowl 50?

Denver 65 percent.

Carolina 35 percent.

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

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