I mean seriously -- at this point I don't think it's a question of IF someone else from the Louisville roster goes down nearly as much as WHEN? And more specifically, WHO?
Like most of you, I spent the last couple years looking forward to this season. We were supposed to be LOADED with players, both talented and experienced. Not unlike most every season at Louisville during the Pitino era, the rebuilding and bridge years were comprised mostly of next year thoughts. Not just with hopes and dreams, but with a sure knowledge of a great recruiting class coming in to join one of the best point guards in the country. After the baptism our blood and guts crew went through last year to harden their wit and battle test their game from the inside out, alot of people thought this could indeed be the year Louisville hangs banner #3.
I won't lie -- the feeling of sabotage was always lurking in the back of my mind when I dared to think of this season and the great potential this team has of dancing into the month of April. I always had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that something would happen to hinder if not cripple the chances of this highly touted group. It started early. News of Kevin Ware not becoming eligible until mid-December, if at all. The annual rash of early-season injuries that always, always plagues this program at every given opportunity. Half a dozen players were already sidelined and forced to watch the rest of the team from the bench in practice and exhibition games. Then, of course, Wayne Blackshear, our star recruit, goes down with an injury that threatened to kill his entire freshman season. I don't care that he's supposed to be back in 6-8 weeks. Getting back, and actually BEING BACK are two totally different things. Everyone always says: "Ah, just wait until (so-and-so) makes it back -- LOOK OUT!" Seldom do people ever take the time to think about the extra weeks it takes to get a player back up to speed and gelling within a team that has been accustomed to playing without him during his absence. And, totally keeping in mind this IS Louisville -- home of the INJURED BIRDS. One cannot fathom getting Wayne back without being haunted by the possibilities of him getting hurt again (and again). Same with Buckles (and Marra, and SVT, and Swop, and everyone else for that matter).
When Marra went down last night, before I even had a chance to comprehend what happened and what the injury could likely be, I said aloud: "Well, that's it for him. See ya next year." And, I wasn't joking. I actually would've been surprised if he just suffered a sprain. I knew better. Our guys never get off that easy. It's pretty damn sad when us as fans are this accustomed to watching players get severely hurt that we can pretty much predict the situation and the outcome, all without feeling one single element of surprise. Already, I've heard some fans chattering about next year. As if all the momentum and build up for this season has been for nothing. As if it's already been shattered. And we haven't even played our third damn game yet.
Remember 2006 in football? Louisville was ready to take on the whole country. We had a favorable home schedule that put two of our three big games at home. Talk of a possible national championship game was in the air. And then, the very first game of the year -- Michael Bush goes down with a broken leg and his season over, just like that.
I guess I'm just really pissed right now.
But, when the emotion wears down, and the focus returns -- there will be one lingering question in my mind each and every time our boys take the court: Who's Next? I was seriously tempted to create a poll. But, common decency got the better of me. This team will be just like every other Louisville team we've watched under Pitino. They will bite, scratch, and claw for every inch and fight for every possession. It's just what we do. We seemingly have no choice.
Sorry for the rant, friends. I'm just seriously sick of watching this year after year.
Will you GODD*MN basketball gods get your rocks off on another school, if even for just a season or two.