When Louisville's basketball team needs a pick-me-up, the answer is not an energy drink. Most often, it's Montrezl Harrell.
It's a role that the 6-foot-8, 235-pound freshman from Tarboro, N.C., embraces.
"I just try to get out there, just fly all over the place and cause havoc," Harrell said after Friday's NCAA Regional practice in Rupp Arena. "That's the type of defense we play. So I just try to be all over the court — on the defensive end, on the offensive end. Just try to stay close around the rim and I hope my teammates find me, which they do."
Yes, they do.
Harrell is shooting 56.3 percent from the field this season, thanks to a high-percentage shot selection — 42 of his 85 field goals are dunks.
He had barely entered Thursday's game against North Carolina A&T when Russ Smith found him for a slam. All three of Harrell's field goals in the game finished with a flush.
Although he has played all 35 games, including three starts, Harrell says it has been a learning process to gain confidence on both ends of the court.
"It was kind of hard, but as the season went on I kind of figured it out and just kept working on it and just kind of stuck with it so I know where to be," Harrell said.
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Averaging 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds, Harrell has scored in double digits six times. He netted 20 points and seven rebounds in U of L's Big East Tournament championship victory over Syracuse.
He originally signed with Virginia Tech, but de-committed after Coach Seth Greenberg was fired. Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Cincinnati all made offers. So did Kentucky.
"I was (considering UK) for a little bit," Harrell said. "But I kind of felt like this was a better fit for me. Kentucky plays an up-and-down tempo, but Louisville plays much better pressure, getting out there, and that's something that I like to play.
"So I just kind of feel like this was a better choice for me. I got here, and it's been a great choice ever since."
Harrell averaged 25.2 points and 13.6 rebounds last season at Hargrave Military Academy. In one game, a 122-119 overtime victory, he had 51 points, 18 dunks, 17 rebounds and six blocks.
With a 7-foot-4 wing span, he'll be counted on Saturday to help neutralize Colorado State on the boards. The Rams lead the nation with a plus-12.4 rebounding advantage.
"Colorado State's a good rebounding team. ... We've just got to box out," Harrell said. "This is a huge game where everybody has to rebound. One through five has to rebound."
Harrell plans to add his personal touch, too.
"When I get out there, I just want to have a lot of energy and hope that my team feeds off that."
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229 Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com