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Molloy guard dedicates March Madness to Curran

Louisville guard Russ Smith is dedicating his post-season play to his former Coach Jack Curran. AP Photo/John Bazemore
TimesLedger Newspapers

Somewhere Jack Curran is smiling as former Archbishop Molloy guard Russ Smith helped the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals get in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The junior guard has done so while dedicating the post-season to his former high school coach, who died two weeks go. Smith believes Curran has been watching over him.

“Man, I feel it all over, and every time before a game I go out there and say, Coach wants me to do all the right things,” Smith said. “Coach Curran and Coach [Rick Pitino], those guys have been a great influence in my life, and in high school I just remember Coach telling me, when you get to this level, you have to really focus because you have trouble focusing, and Coach P has done a tremendous job with me.”

Smith has proved that statement correct by scoring 23 points on 10 of 16 shooting from the field in a 79-48 first round win over North Carolina A&T. Smith followed that up with a monster 27-point night that included four three-pointers to help the Cardinals (31-5) get past Colorado 82-56 in the second round. Pitino couldn’t be happier with Smith’s play.

“I’ve been proud of a lot of guys at BU, Providence, Kentucky and Louisville,” Cardinals Coach Rick Pitino said of Smith. “I don’t think I could be any more proud of a young man.”

Smith and the Big East tournament champions face No. 12-seeded Oregon, the Pac-12 champ, March 29 at 7:15 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Cardozo alum Southerland keeps Cuse alive: James Southerland, who starred at Benjamin Cardozo, scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help Syracuse slip past California 66-60 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. He thought the Orange really executed on offense.

“We did a good job moving the ball around, which made it easy to get to the basket and we took advantage of that early in the first half,” said Southerland, who had nine points in an opening round win over Montana.

No. 4 Syracuse (28-9) now faces No. 1 seeded Indiana in the Sweet 16 at 9:45 p.m. March 28 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

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