The first glimpse of the end of something very good is always heartbreaking.
With Siena having just charged from lifeless to a four-point lead, Louisville not appearing capable of responding in any form and Rick Pitino talking to his players in the midst of an apparent 35-minute timeout, the thought that this was the last time this group would take the floor as a team crept into my mind for the first time. No more Pit Bull No. 1 hounding opposing guards, no more T-Willisms, no more Earl in March, no more daydreaming about Detroit.
And then the Cards did what Final Four teams tested on the tournament's opening weekend have been doing for years: they found a way to win.
The formula for these types of victories is basic. You have a star player, you let your star player make star player plays, and then the rest of the team rallies.
I am no less confident in this team's ability to win a national championship than I was before Sunday. One seeds have been pushed in the round of 32 year-after-year. It happened last season to both Memphis (against Mississippi State) and UCLA (against Texas A&M).
Siena was legitimately one of the 32 best teams in the country. They boasted the MAAC Player of the Year as well as the same five starters who rolled Vanderbilt in the first round of last year's Big Dance. Thee guys weren't going to crumble because of a double-digit deficit in the second half.
A win over a good team in the tournament needs to be celebrated, regardless of how it came about.
There's more Louisville basketball to be played, and as long as you can say that with a straight face, life is good.
There's nothing I can say about Terrence William that hasn't already been said by now, so I'm not even going to try. The man cemented his status as a leader and All-American by carrying his team to victory with the season on the line.
I know we said it last year when David Padgett's Cardinal career was winding to a close, but what in the world are we going to do without this guy?
Ms. Card Chronicle and I made the day trip to Dayton, the former managing to sneak a "T-WIll T-WILL Rock You" sign into UD Arena. After successfully evading the wrath of the sign Nazis for two hours, she managed to get T-Will's attention as he headed toward the locker room following a postgame interview with CBS. He smiled, pointed, and said, "I like that sign."
And just like that, her crush on the best player on the nation's No. 1 team ballooned to half the size of mine.
If that weren't enough, she managed to get some ink in The New York Times.
A woman in the stands held up a sign. It read: "T-Will, T-Will, Rock You!" Williams finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds, rocking all night long.
I'd like to note that the sign did not actually include an exclamation point.
"Some guy named Mike" in the Dayton Daily News and "a woman" in The New York Times...power couple.
How excited about cheering on the bench do you think Jery Smith secretly got after picking up his second foul?
If he would have banged that second three from the corner early in the second half, it would have easily been my biggest overreaction of the game.
We've been talking about this since the Ole Miss game, but this team's lack of a killer instinct is still really troubling.
I understand that this is a loose bunch, and I'm OK with that, but the looseness seems to be taken to a dangerous level whenever a second half lead blossoms to nine or ten. We've seen over the last couple of weeks that Louisville is a team capable of making key, debilitating runs, but they still haven't figured out where the throat is. In both the Syracuse and Villanova games, U of L opened up the second half with monster runs that helped them build a lead of around eight points, and then the margin hovered right around that area for the rest of the game.
We still haven't seem these guys go on a big run to build a respectable lead and then smell blood and put the game completely out of reach. That worries me.
I believe in Almost Dunking Marques Maybin.
This was a game where we really needed Samardo Samuels to provide a monster advantage inside, and for the most part he did. He took a couple of poor shots near the end of the game, but he was tremendous on defense (sans the whole forgetting there was someone behind him on the go-ahead bucket for the Saints) and very assertive when he caught the ball in a position to score.
It's time for Jordan Hill now, big fella.
Jared Swopsher, Ronald Delk, Juan Palashus...thank god Verne has that Happy Gilmore money to fall back on.
The bird that made its way into the arena landing on the midcourt logo during a TV timeout produced one of the loudest cheers of the game. It was pretty awesome.
A very strong seven minutes from Terrence Jennings. So strong that you can't help but wonder what happened to him in the second half.
I really don't think Jared Swopshire missed a shot during either pregame or halftime warm-ups. It actually made me really hope he got an open look when he was in during the first half.
It seems to me like CBS has had even more problems switching games during this tournament than in past years, and they've never been good.
If I had been home for this, though, something within arm's each would have been thrown.
An almost three-minute stretch in the final five minutes, in which the Cardinals rallied from a 63-61 deficit to a 68-63 lead, was not shown. The game, which was broadcast on CBS affiliate WLKY, was interrupted by cutaways to Marquette-Missouri and USC-Michigan State.
CBS was supposed to provide a "constant feed" of live U of L game action and not cut away from the hometown team, WLKY president and general manager Glenn Haygood said.
WLKY was "flooded" with calls, Haygood said.
"If I were a viewer, I would have complained to anybody that would have listened to me," he said.
Haygood said he will be having some "serious conversations" with CBS.
"This cannot happen again," he said. "It should have never happened in the first place."
It's OK. I mean, it's not like they've been doing this for a long time or anything. The fine folks at CBS are still learning the ropes when it comes to the tournament and college basketball fans need to be respectful of that.
I don't have a good way to lead into this, but here's Jerb's video of pregame warm-ups.
Even when Preston Knowles is at his worst he manages to work in something ridiculously cool.
I said before the game that Hasbrouck, Franklin and Ubiles could play for any team in America, well, go ahead and add Ronald Moore to that list.
He had an awful afternoon from the field, but played 40 minutes and ate our press alive, finishing with ten assists and just two turnovers. He also had four steals.
He'll never be a household name, but if Louisville's defense leads it to another title, he'll probably be able to say that he handled it as well as any floor general in the country.
I get the feeling Ryan Rossiter would have become one of the most unliked college basketball players in the eyes of Louisville fans had Siena been able to pull the upset off. Something about seeing a guy that looks like he's worse than you at sports succeeding at a high level just rubs people the wrong way.
Good Edgar was just about as good as he's ever been in the first half, but I still wish he'd get over thinking that stringing together a few nice plays is justification for multiple heat check shots. That said, he stepped up when we needed a boost.
Even with Sosa playing well, though, you knew McGee was going to be the guy with the game on the line. He's earned that.
Loved seeing Reggie get minutes at the two. It's nice to know that he can handle that if a similar situation comes up again at some point over the next two weeks.
Can anyone tell me Rick Pitino's record in the Sweet 16? I know that I knew at one point, but I just can't seem to remember for whatever reason.
The Monday after the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament is always so depressing.
Explain to me again why there isn't basketball on. We don't play again until when?
It's all so hard to accept.