Louisville v. WVU: The Five Stages of Grief

“Sleep on it.”

When faced with a perplexing dilemma—and, I imagine, writing something on the heels of an incredibly frustrating loss—that mantra offers worthwhile advice.

Well, my nap is over.

And because I’ve seen Inception—not once, but twice—my dreams reenacted the debacle that was the conclusion of the Cards regular season, thus allowing me to experience each of the Five Stages of Grief in a strange, gravity-defying mental microwave.

Stage One: Denial

It went something like this: No, no, no, no, no.  There’s no way they called that foul!  They’re not in the bonus, are they? Wait, of course they are—maybe he’ll miss them both.

(Two minutes later, after he makes them both: _______!  Insert various vitriolic expressions, specifically hurled at the offending referee, any West Virginia player, Bob Huggins, and—even though he didn’t deserve it—John Denver.)

Stage Two: Anger

I hit a wall—open-handed, mind you. I don’t have a wild enough streak of rage to potentially break all of my metacarpals. And by “I don’t have a wild enough a streak of rage” I actually mean I’m too scared to actually punch anything.

Also, I vehemently vented about the shockingly one-sided refs, Preston’s rushed shot and asinine foul, everyone in Red for missing their free throws, and Pitino’s haphazard use of timeouts and stubborn substitution patterns.

Stage Three: Bargaining

To put it mildly, I engaged in mental tomfoolery and I am ashamed.  Here’s the low point: “We need Samardo—at least he could rebound.” If that’s not bargaining, Charlie Sheen isn’t a winner. And we all know Charlie Sheen is a winner.

Stage Four: Depression

At this point, I began assuming—and in retrospect, greatly over-exaggerating—the long-range ramifications of the loss: Will this bury us? Can we recover from a such a bad loss? We might not win another game this year. The cynicism fatigued my mind—not a good way to spend the first day of spring break.

Stage Five: Acceptance & Hope

Fatalist-Me thinks that such a colossal give-away will euthanize this surprisingly sublime season. But then I came to my senses: haven’t I learned anything?

If there’s a team that will use adversity to motivate, it’s the 2010-2011 University of Louisville men’s basketball team.  If there’s a guy who will ensure that his own mistakes galvanize the group, it’s Preston Knowles.  And if there’s a coach who is able to mix and match and motivate all the moving parts, it’s Coach Pitino.
Will U of L win the Big East tournament, make the Final Four, and hang up a championship banner in the Yum!’s inaugural season?

Will they even win another game?

I have no idea.

But will they sulk and pout and let this game destroy any potential of the aforementioned?  Will this loss shake their confidence and strip them of their hard-earned swagger?

Will they give up?

There’s not a chance.

And to answer those questions, I don’t even need to sleep on it.

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