Jack Curran, the New York State’s all-time winningest high school coach and a legend in both basketball and baseball at Archbishop Molloy High School, passed away on Thursday morning.
A lot of talent passed through Molloy during Curran’s 55 years at the program, including such notable names as Kenny Smith, Kenny Anderson and Jim Larranaga.
Louisville’s all-american guard Russ Smith also played at Molloy, and on Thursday night, he had to take the court in his final Big East tournament with a heavy heart. To get an idea of just how much Curran meant to Smith, take a look at his facebook status from Thursday morning:
Smith wasn’t a highly-regarded recruit coming out of high school. In fact, when Rick Pitino began recruiting Smith during his prep season at South Kent, a lot of people thought he was crazy. But Smith wound up at Louisville, and has made his way from bench-warmer to sparkplug to an all-american as a junior.
On Thursday, it all came together as Smith put on one helluva show to honor his old high school coach.
Smith went off for 28 points, hitting 7-12 from the floor and 4-6 from deep while playing catalyst to a nightmarish press that had Villanova paralyzed. The Wildcats finished with 24 turnovers, and while Smith only had two steals, his on-ball defense contributed to at least a third of them.
More importantly, Louisville advanced to the semifinals of the Big East tournament with the 74-55 win, where they will play either Marquette or Notre Dame in tomorrow’s nightcap. The win also gets Louisville one step closer to that elusive No. 1 seed; it may require a Big East tournament title to land it.
And it was Smith that led the way, heavy heart and all.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.