For college basketball players, encouragement and indications from their coaches that they’re doing a good job can come in many forms. Slaps on the butt. Bear hugs. And so forth.
If you’re a Louisville Cardinal, the ultimate sign of respect from Rick Pitino is that he names one of his horses after you.
Russ Smith — the mercurial “shoot first, ask questions later” who was an unlikely star during UL’s run to the 2012 Final Four — is the latest player to be so honored.
According to Bloodhorse, a Pitino-owned thoroughbred named “Russdiculous” was sold to Dennis O’Neill on June 19 for $145,000. Dennis O’Neill is the brother of Doug O’Neill, trainer for Kentucky Derby and Preakness Winner “I’ll Have Another.”
Like Smith the two current Cardinals players who Pitino also named horses after, Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva, were instrumental in Louisville’s successful 2012 campaign.