About midway through the conference season I began to get "The Fear."
Average teams don't inspire the fear. Great teams inspire fear but also offer the soothing salve of confidence.
The real fear comes from the overachievers, teams that fill you with the sense that they can win every game but not the confidence that they will. UofL has been the embodiment of this stereotype. There was never a game I just knew (DePaul notwithstanding) that we would win. I watch just about every minute of play this year, riding the emotional highs of a team doing the unexpected.
The Fear I felt was that uncertainty that I carried with me until the closing bell of every game (and in the case of the Pitt game slightly beyond). I knew we could beat Morehead, but I wasn't entirely convinced that we would. From a fan's point of view close games are exciting and they send the message that a team can "Close." But it's misguided. Good teams shouldn't have to "close." Good teams should comfortably win most of their games. As much as I have loved the heart of these Cards, they never really exhibited that level of play, certainly not consistently.
The Fear was that we were going to play over our heads, get in a position to not just fail, but to fail fantastically. Of course that fear turned to confirmation yesterday and I was left to wander my house in a daze. How didn't I see that coming? How wasn't I emotionally prepared for the let down? How did this happen?
It happened because despite all evidence, all Pitino's foreshadowing, all of my own suspicions, I get swept off my feet by a team that seemed to do the impossible. And while they did manage to do the impossible most of the season, they also spent lots of time this season not quite achieving the possible. Beat Syracuse, UConn (twice), Pitt, Notre Dame? Impossible. But the games that were very possible, Drexel, Providence, Morehead, were the ones that got out of our reach.
Yesterday was a painful loss, but I'd been warned. Bridge year. Injuries. Inconsistent shooting. I chose not to heed the warnings and, just like falling in love, let it happen, lumps and all. And like so many misguided love stories, this one ended badly. And like all the spurned lovers before me I'll tell myself, "we had some great times, I wouldn't trade them." It's true. It was good while it lasted. Maybe the next one will be "the real thing."
>>>Shame on you if you disparage Justice. He's not the physically gifted freshman that should ever have been playing extended minutes or been expected to make a huge contribution. He's a smart, tough kid who will take this experience and grow on it. We're going to capital L, love him in two years. Preston!-style.
>>> All season long injuries were a culprit. Yesterday was no different.
>>> All season long foul trouble was a culprit. Yesterday was no different.
>>> So much more, but I've got a first round game to get to. Go UT. Go Big East.