In basketball, shooters—like quarterbacks in football—must have short memories in order to ensure long-term success.
Russ Smith nearly cost Louisville a win against Wichita State in the Final Four, and another poor shooting performance against Michigan will sink the Cardinals on Monday night.
Smith has been phenomenal throughout the 2013 NCAA tournament, scoring no less than 21 points in all of Louisville's five games.
Until his subpar showing in the Final Four, he'd been hitting on a high percentage of his shots, averaging 25 points per game.
Louisville wouldn't be where it is now without his fearless approach on offense. Even counting his 6-for-17 showing against the Shockers, Smith has hit on 50 percent of his 78 attempts, including 30 percent from behind the arc.
Certainly, it will behoove Smith to avoid heaving up 11 three-point shots against Michigan like he did against Wichita State, unless he starts the game on fire from behind the arc. That said, Smith's aggressive approach to scoring has been just as critical to Louisville's success as has the team's disruptive defense.
Michigan is one of the top offensive teams in the nation. Counting its 61-point performance against Syracuse, the Wolverines have averaged 75.2 points per game thus far in the tournament.
Between Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas, this is a starting lineup that can score points in bunches.
Louisville's pressure defense will be a big factor, but the fact remains that the Cardinals must score a lot of points to bring home a national championship.
Smith is the biggest scoring threat Louisville has, and he must have a big game against Michigan for the Cardinals to win this upcoming contest. That won't happen if he's still thinking about the shots he missed against the Shockers.
If we've learned anything about Smith this season, though, it's that he has the mentality it takes to shrug off the bad nights and come to play with extra fire after games in which he's struggled.
Will Russ Smith bounce back and have a big game, or will he struggle with his shot again?
Back in early March, Smith scored just five points on 2-of-8 shooting against Notre Dame. The following contest, he lit up Villanova for 28 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
In the final game of the Big East tournament against Syracuse, Smith scored just 10 points on 2-of-8 shooting. He followed that game up with a phenomenal four-game stretch in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Smith will put last game's struggles behind him and play with intelligence, passion and urgency against Michigan. He'll need to be at the top of his game for Louisville to win, and even if he does play his best game, this contest will likely go down to the wire.
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