Final thoughts on losing Marquis Teague

There isn't much to be said that hasn't already been addressed (and done so quite well by many on this site) at this point, but I would like to tackle the topic at least briefly before it finally receives the lack of attention it deserves.

We can discuss the significance of Marquis Teague spurning Rick Pitino and Louisville for John Calipari and Kentucky from now until Derby Day (let's don't), but the unrelenting truth is that we won't know the true impact of last Thursday's announcement for at least a couple of years. 

I've heard multiple people reference Pitino losing Teague as being the equivalent of Denny Crum losing Wade and, subsequently, Allan Houston to Tennessee, an exodus which is widely viewed as the beginning of the end of the Crum era at Louisville. It's an analogy that may prove to be true, but it seems just a touch premature at the moment. 

Right now, I think the significance of the situation is three-fold: It's a little bit about the Louisville/Kentucky rivalry, a little bit more about the talents of a high school senior-to-be, and a little bit more about the state and image of the U of L basketball program. 

If it wasn't before, Kentucky's status in the college basketball world is solidified. 

If you have enough talent, you can come to Kentucky, play in front of a lot of fans, receive a lot of national attention and set yourself up to be a millionaire in less than a year. And if you win a national championship along the way...cool. 

If given the choice, I don't think there's a coach in America who would choose to have it this way, but if you're John Calipari and you can get two or three of the five best high school seniors in the country every year, what else do you do? Now if Kentucky is continues to be spring's champion but fails to taste a Final Four for the next three or four years, then I think you have to re-evaluate your strategy. Until then you dismiss the "Traveling Circus" and "AAUniversity" talk and hope talent wins out in next year's NCAA Tournament. 

As for Louisville, I don't think there's any denying that this has been a solid body blow to the program and a forceful head shot to the image of the man who's the face of it. 

The fact that Rick Pitino has put a lot of stock in the 2011-2012 season is the worst-kept secret in the Derby City, and losing the class of '11 player to whom he'd devoted the most attention to landing was undoubtedly a bitter pill to swallow, but anyone who thinks being spurned by a 17-year-old is going to alter the entire philosophy of the only coach to take three programs to the Final Four is a fool. 

Listening to the radio last week, I twice heard Pitino referred to as "old school." It was a bit surreal, but it certainly wasn't off-base. 

Pitino isn't going to throw his kids on the floor and let them go, a style which Teague admitted enticed him to commit to coach Cal. If it means U of L does suffer through a period of peril similar to the late '90s, then so be it, the man's not going to change. I also don't think he's going to stop chasing after the kids ranked 1-10 on the Scout and Rivals Top 100 lists, and I don't think he should. One very public recruiting defeat has momentarily overshadowed a lot of recent recruiting successes, and time will bring those back into light (a process which is already in motion). 

As I said at the start, it will be years before the significance of "Teague-pocalypse" becomes apparent, but for those declaring with certainty that this is the beginning of the end of the Rick Pitino era at Louisville, I would point you in the direction of Pitino's prior most high-profile recruiting swing-and-miss at U of L. 

Sebastian Telfair was supposed to be the guy to thrust Louisville back into the national spotlight. He played for the most well-known high school basketball program in New York City, he had been on the cover of Sports Illiustrated, his senior year of high school was made into a documentary that aired on ESPN, and he ended up playing zero games with Rick Pitino as his head coach. 

As if losing Telfair wasn't bad enough, the attention paid to the point guard from the Big Apple also forced Pitino to miss out on Rajon Rondo, a kid from Louisville who had grown up a Louisville fan. Rondo ended up going to Kentucky before becoming an NBA All-Star and winning a world championship with the Boston Celtics. 

All of this happened in 2003. Louisville went to the Final Four in 2005. 

There are players everywhere. In this era it's all about finding the right mix and getting a little lucky. 

Don't jump.

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