Louisville, Michigan look to create lasting bond

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He still gets into it with Pitino from time to time _ remember, the coach dubbed him “Russdiculous” for some of his wacky shots and perplexing antics _ but it’s hard to envision where this team might be without him.

“I just try to make winning plays,” Smith said. “I don’t look at myself as a point guard or a shooting guard. I look at myself as a winning player.”

Pitino is certainly a winner.

He’s already the first coach to lead three schools to the Final Four. Now, he’s got a chance to become the first to win national titles at two schools, having led Kentucky to a championship in 1996.

Pitino isn’t worried about personal accolades.

He’d rather have a lifelong connection with this team.

“I haven’t thought about it for one second,” Pitino insisted. “Everything we do is about the team, about the family. I’d be a total hypocrite if I said (winning another title is) really important. It really is not important. I want to win because I’m part of this team. That’s it.”

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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