It's Just Louisville Basketball, Charlie Brown.

Hi, my name is Alex and I have a problem.

You know the type.  I’m the guy who watches his favorite team play–my face scrawled with a permanent grimace. I hem and haw at every missed three, hurl vitriol after every turnover, and, during any particularly bad stretch, call for the head of anyone and everyone associated with the program, from athletic director to ball boy.

I am your typical, woe-is-me, oh-good-grief fan. (Okay, I realize that moniker is a bit awkward, but it’s a working title–for now, we’ll just call them Charlie Browns.) More specifically–as those working through the Alcoholics Anonymous program would put it–I am a Charlie Brown “in recovery.”

And, since I’m being honest, I had a relapse last night.

This shouldn’t be surprising; being a University of Louisville fan is difficult.  My affections are haphazardly yo-yoed up and down after every triumphant victory and every bitter defeat.

They love each other.

These past few weeks serve as a microcosm for an ordinary month-in-the-life of a U of L fan:

  • January 15 — The Cardinals steal a win from Marquette, 71-70.  Down 18 with 5:44 left, Louisville reeled off a 24-5 run to complete the Yum!back.  This game was so exciting that I’ve almost forgotten I had to turn down court-side seats the morning of the game because I was at a friend’s wedding. Almost.
  • January 19 — I saw, in person, the Cards play their best game of the season as they bludgeoned a veteran St. John’s team 88-63. At this point, I’m ecstatic and becoming naively optimistic about March.
  • January 22 — Optimism destroyed! Louisville loses at Providence (Providence?!) 72-67.  Let it be known that the Fumblin’ Friars had lost an impressive 17 consecutive Big East games.  Put it this way: that night, I wanted to re-legalize the guillotine.
  • January 26 — Thank you, Peyton Siva. (Four words I never thought I’d say, sans-sarcasm.) Cards beat West Virginia, 55-54.
  • January 29 — Pitino’s squad strolls into Connecticut and collars the #5 Huskies in double overtime, 79-78, stealing yet another one-point game they had no business of winning.  During the final half-hour of this game, I had convinced, unconvinced, and re-convinced myself at least a dozen times that we would lose.
  • Last night — Georgetown defeats the Cards 62-59, led by Random Forward Who Makes Every Shot He Takes (also known as Julian Vaughn) and Man Who Makes Lucky Layups (Chris Wright). Prior to the game–considering the entirely too short 48-hour layoff, and assuming the team was emotionally and physically exasperated from the previous game–I just hoped for quality effort.  But by the final buzzer, when it was clear we had blown a game we could have/should have won, I plummeted off the wagon. I resorted to my old ways, blaming the loss on Pitino’s bizarre substitution patterns/minute allotments, Siva’s inane tendency to play basketball like he’s under Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak, Kyle Kuric’s missed free throws, and, as a whole, the team’s schizophrenic play possession-to-possession.

Okay. Let me try again: Hi, my name is Alex and I have a problem.

If nothing else, I should be ecstatic about how much this team has (over)achieved this season. Returning zero starters from a mediocre 2010 squad, Pitino is perhaps en route to his greatest coaching job in his ninth season with the Cardinals. U of L is 13th in the country, tied for second in the ridiculously loaded Big East–all without a reasonable modicum of talent.  Our “best” player–I use the word best loosely; it changes every game–is a former walk-on (Preston Knowles).  Our other “best” player, Siva, is a sophomore point guard who routinely appears on Sportscenter’s Top-10, but rarely strings together multiple worthwhile games.

But, with all that being said, I love this team.

Sure, they’re undisciplined. But more importantly, they’re unselfish.  Sure, they’re erratic. But they have heart. This team is filled with blue-collar young men, not blue-chip prospects. Their camaraderie and mindset override their lackluster skill-set. They’re coachable, humble, and just love to play the game of basketball.  They understand their roles–no matter how small–and trust Pitino’s tutelage to optimize their talents.

Hmmm… Now that I think about it, I definitely have a problem if I’m freaking out after a paper-thin road-loss to the 15th best team in the country.

Hey, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Right?

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