The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Russell, Williams ready for emotional senior night

The SMU men’s basketball team will try to continue its recent hot streak and send out its seniors on top when it welcomes conference rival and defending champion Louisville tonight.

It will be the first time a ranked SMU team hosts another ranked team at Moody Coliseum since February 1985 and the program will honor seniors Nick Russell and Shawn Williams.

“I’m trying not to think about it because that’s senior night for me,” Russell said. “I’m just taking it one day at a time. It will be a great game and a great atmosphere. We are all ready for it, but I’m not trying to think about it at all.”

Russell is averaging 9.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists this year while also being the team’s primary defensive stopper. Shawn Williams is averaging 4.9 points and 3.0 rebounds on 50 percent shooting from the field.

“I’m looking forward to it because it’s my last home game here,” Williams said. “It means a lot to me and my mother is from Louisville, so I will have a lot of people at the game. It should be pretty special.”

SMU head coach Larry Brown has relied on Russell and Williams to be the captains and leaders of the team this season. According to Brown, the two veterans have done a great job being a filter between the coaches and younger players on the roster.

“Nick and Shawn’s leadership is something that we have really needed. They make it easier for the young kids to listen,” Brown said. “Based on what Nick and Shawn have meant to our program and what they have contributed, senior night should be pretty emotional. Hopefully, it’s something that stays special, too. Senior night really means something at great programs, so hopefully we can have that from now on.”

Teammates of Russell and Williams say it’s impossible to measure the impacts of their careers on the Hilltop. Junior guard Ryan Manuel says he wouldn’t be the player he is today if it weren’t for them.

“Nick has been a big part for me and my three years I’ve been here,” Manuel said. “My freshman year I struggled a lot and he was one of the guys I talked to. Both seniors, Nick and Shawn, have played a huge role this year as the leaders of our team. They changed the atmosphere around this program.”

The Mustangs believe the key to tonight’s game will be stopping Cardinals senior guard Russ Smith. Williams says it’s also important for the team to learn from the mistakes they made in their 71-63 loss at Louisville earlier in the season.

“We were a different team last time we played them. We are more mature and we are peaking right now, so we are worried about ourselves and how we play more than anyone else,” Williams said. “We’ve won some big games that prepared us for this moment, so we fear no one.”

Russell has built a reputation as one of the best defensive guards in the country, but wouldn’t talk about how he feels heading into his last game at SMU. However, it’s clear he believes there will be a little extra magic in Moody Coliseum tonight.

“We are just trying to get a win. It’s all about playing good team basketball and doing what we do defensively,” Russell said. “It’s been a blessing and a great experience for me to play here. If we keep playing the same basketball we have been playing recently on both sides of the ball, everything will take care of itself.”

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