Russsickulous says Cards are "getting better"

INDIANAPOLIS – It's been the biggest question over the course of the past 24 hours – the health of the University of Louisville basketball team. The Cardinals have been battling colds, coughs and some strep throat this week heading into Sunday's NCAA Tournament Elite Eight game against Duke. Cardinal Authority has an update on the health status of the team the night before the game.

The always quotable Russ Smith didn't even have an answer for comment made to him by a member of the media on Saturday afternoon.

Smith, often referred to as Russdiculous by University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, was told that some U of L fans were referring to the junior guard as "Russsickulous" after Friday's win over Oregon.

"I don't even have a comment for that one," he said with a smile, adding that the thought of that nickname "is pretty amazing."

The new moniker came from Smith and many of the other members of the U of L basketball team spending the week under the weather.

The health update was the biggest question posed to the Cardinals on Saturday, just 24 hours before a game against Duke in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

"I think we're getting better," Smith said. "We're all getting better."

Smith said he has been sick much of this week and was couching and "gasping for air" during his 31-point performance on Friday night.

Peyton Siva said he was "at the early stages" of strep throat before getting a Z-Pack on Thursday, while Chane Behanan said he "was the first to have it," the previous week. Most of the team has battled a small case of the bug.

Siva noted that Pitino let the team sleep in on Saturday morning and that "really helped a lot. Our energy was better."

Smith said he was just 70 percent on Friday night and noted he felt about "80 percent" on Saturday afternoon.

"I don't think it's going to be a big deal for us," Smith said about Sunday. "I'm on Mucinex, antibiotics and a pill schedule. I'm definitely not 100 percent from a conditioning standpoint, but I'll be good."

Junior guard Luke Hancock said he's feeling fine and noted that "it's not like any of us are deathly sick. We're going to play and we're going to be fine."

Pitino isn't worried about it. He said the Cardinals didn't play their best defensive performance against the Ducks on Friday night.

"The guys basically defensively had a night off, so they're going to be very, very fresh against Duke," Pitino said.

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