Kuric, Smith show their dedication to Louisville hoops

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Rick Pitino solved Louisville’s scholarship problem. All it took was having three guys revert to walk-on status for next season.

The notable aspect? Two players – Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith – were starters. The other is sophomore Elisha Justice. That’s some program commitment.

The school announced the move during a press conference Tuesday morning, which will get the Cardinals to the 13-scholarship D-I limit. That became an issue after a nice recruiting haul for Pitino, who recently landed two notable players in Kevin Ware and Luke Hancock. Ware is eligible this season. Hancock won’t be playing until 2012-13.

It’s not an unusual move, especially for programs that have to juggle their scholarship numbers to accommodate late signings, early player departures and other random stuff that goes with high-profile programs. As Eric Crawford of the Louisville Courier-Journal notes, a similar move worked out for Tubby Smith at Kentucky 10 years ago.

Besides, all three weren’t originally scholarship players. Also from Crawford:

Of this particular scholarship move, Pitino said, “When Kyle first came here, he wasn’t supposed to be on scholarship and he was put on scholarship. Bullet (Elisha Justice) was coming here he wasn’t supposed to be on scholarship, he was put on scholarship. Chris Smith was not supposed to be on scholarship, he was put on scholarship. I told the Kuric family at some point in time throughout his career I might need it for a year and I’ve never had to do that until now. So we’ve been very up front with everybody. As a matter of fact, it’s just the opposite. Those guys weren’t supposed to be on scholarship but they were. And Kyle has more than not only exceeded but deserved the scholarship he’s been on.

“You know, look. We would not even consider asking unless (Kuric’s) family could afford it. His father’s a brain surgeon. That wouldn’t even be a factor. We wouldn’t even consider it.”

Smith is the younger brother of NBA player J.R. Smith. Finances presumably won’t be an issue for him, either. But it’s no small thing to be a walk-on. That means paying for tuition, room, board, team expenses, etc. etc.

Those are some committed players.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

No. 13 Indiana bounces back with 83-73 win over St. John’s

Troy Williams
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LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Yogi Ferrell had 22 points and seven assists to lead No. 13 Indiana to an 83-73 victory over St. John’s on Tuesday in the consolation round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

Freshman center Thomas Bryant had a career-high 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting for the Hoosiers (4-1), who lost to Wake Forest 82-78 in the closing seconds of their opening-round game.

Indiana will play the winner of the Chaminade-UNLV game for fifth place on Wednesday.

Federico Mussini and Ron Mvouika had 17 points each for the Red Storm (3-2), who played much better than they did in their 92-55 pasting from No. 19 Vanderbilt in the first round.

Ferrell had an answer every time St. John’s tried to close in in the second half. Four times the Red Storm got within seven points and three of those times Ferrell replied. He hit a short jumper, two free throws and a step-back jumper to keep St. John’s at bay.

The Red Storm got as close as 76-70 with 1:53 to play on two free throws by Yankuba Sima. James Blackmon Jr., who finished with 12 points, hit a 3 and after a St. John’s turnover he scored on a drive to put the game away.

Troy Williams had seven points and nine rebounds for Indiana.

The Hoosiers led by as many as 17 points in the first half and took a 42-31 lead at halftime.


St. John’s: This game started a little bit better than the opening round. In that game Vanderbilt opened by scoring the first nine points of the game. Against Indiana St. John’s trailed 9-2 at the start. … St. John’s had eight turnovers against Vanderbilt. The Red Storm had that many at halftime against the Hoosiers, They finished with 11.

Indiana: Bryant had 15 points at halftime, two off his career high for a game. … Ferrell was 9 of 10 from the free throw line. The rest of the Hoosiers were 6 of 14.

TALE OF THE TAPE: St. John’s trainer Ron Linfonte and Tim Garl, his counterpart at Indiana, are both in their 35th season at their respective schools. They are the two longest-tenured trainers in men’s Division I basketball.


St. John’s: plays loser of Chaminade-UNLV for seventh place on Wednesday.

Indiana: plays winner of Chaminade-UNLV for fifth place on Wednesday.

VIDEO: Bill Simmons talks Ben Simmons on DP Show

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Ben Simmons will likely be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, and possibly end up with the Celtics, making Boston sports junkie Bill Simmons very happy. Bill jokes about sharing a last name with a future NBA star.