After listening to Doug Gottlieb and other ESPN personalities over the weekend, I have to wonder if these people even follow college basketball at all. Gottlieb called Louisville a "bit player." Another compared the program to a burning dumpster. Do these people even deserve to be on television when these kinds of things are said?
Louisville, like other perennial powerhouses North Carolina and UCONN, is sitting on the bubble after a great season last year. At the same time, this program is no where near the coffin these people claim it to be in. Out of the top five teams in the Big East, we have competed with all of them, home or away, and just beat arguably the best in their own backyard in front of 31,000 orange people. Other games were influenced by questionable calls and the like. Whether they would like to admit it or not, we gave that team in Lexington a great game in their own building. This team is a good basketball team and I am excited to watch them play the rest of the year.
This team notwithstanding, to say the program is anything less than one of best in the country is to ignore its very bright future. Next year Louisville opens arguably what is going to be the best college basketball facility in the country. Justin Coleman will be a great addition to a team that will bring back a great deal of experience. I believe Pitino when he says the potential for improvement with this team is through the roof. The year after, if this 2011 class pans out, we will hopefully be in a great position to compete for a national title. That news got better this weekend, as I have read Mr. Teague had to cancel his visit to Lexington for a second time. Winning Teague will be a great way to shut some of these people up.
All this hinges on Pitino and whether he chooses to stay. In my opinion, it all comes down to legacy. If he leaves, the scandal will always be the biggest part of the Pitino era in Louisville. They will say he left because of it and because of the pressure of recruiting against the used car salesman in Lexington. The best way Pitino cements his legacy is to win at Louisville. I think he knows that and it is probably a huge reason why he is recruiting so hard.
I cannot wait for the day when the quotes over this weekend can be laughed about. By then , Gottlieb's Oklahoma State program may have made a noteworthy contribution to college basketball besides having a former coach getting arrested for drug charges.