Moving on or "letting the past be the past" isn't really my thing. I tend not to appreciate something until it's taken away or has grown so tired of my (accurately) perceived indifference and steady stream of sarcasm that it decides a Burger King parking lot is as good a place as any to pull the plug. It's only when I no longer have these things at my disposal that I can't stop thinking about them.
This season, as many have acknowledged, has been especially difficult to part with, due mostly to the combination of love for the team and the horrifically unsatisfying way it ended. Still, here we are, painfully but undeniably stuck in the dead period. The good news is that the worst days of basketball withdrawal (think Trainspotting) are completely or nearly behind us, and the transition to our summer selves (read: normal human beings) has at least started.
For those who still haven't acknowledged that the grass is again green and your shoulders (or at least mine) are again severely, severely burnt, I think it's important that you achieve closure immediately. And I think it's equally important that you do so in the form of a fake awards show.
Co-hosted by Mike Gleason and Simeon Naydenov
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Preston Knowles
Preston!'s final season as a Cardinal is never going to be legendary from a statistical standpoint, but all you need to do is watch the DePaul game and the last four minutes of the Morehead State loss to see just how crucial he was to one of the most overachieving Louisville basketball teams of all-time.
BEST GAME (FOR LOUISVILLE): Louisville 83, Notre Dame 77 (OT)
Friday night, Big East semifinals, insane second half comeback against a team fighting for a No. 1 seed; it didn't get any better for Cardinal basketball this season.
Louisville 71, Marquette 70
Louisville 71, Connecticut 58
BEST GAME (OVERALL): Louisville 79, Connecticut 78 (2 OT)
Unlike some of their other comebacks, the Cardinals earned every bit of this one. Peyton Siva converted on a pair of clutch drives to prolong the game at the end of both regulation and overtime, and U of L somehow survived a couple of potential game-winning shots from eventual college basketball demigod Kemba Walker to notch their biggest win of the season to date.
Louisville 83, Notre Dame 77 (2OT)
Louisville 62, Pittsburgh 59 (OT)
WORST GAME (FOR LOUISVILLE): Louisville 61, Morehead State 62
I'm still not talking about it.
Louisville 46, Drexel 52
Louisville 63, Kentucky 78
WORST GAME (OVERALL): Louisville 61, San Francisco 35
Louisville led by just one at halftime, forcing me to come downstairs and watch the rest of the game instead of studying for my last final, which took place the next morning. The Cards outscored the Dons 36-11 in the second half and won going away despite leading scorer Mike Marra's (yep) 1-for-10 performance. I nearly matched Marra's performance on the next morning's final.
And yeah, I looked those stats up because I literally remember nothing else significant about this game. Did Hendo play? Was there a jump rope involved at some point? Hoola-hoop? Goo from My Brother and Me?
Louisville 78, Gardner-Webb 49
Louisville 92, Florida International 55 (Zombe Isiah)
DEFENSIVE MVP: Peyton Siva
The adorable one finished second in the Big East in both total steals (66) and steals per game (2.0)
BEST DUNK: Kyle Kuric vs. Notre Dame
The best overall dunk of the 2010-2011 college basketball season rightfully takes the prize here.
Peyton Siva 360 vs. UConn
Stephan Van Treese two-handed "underrated" slam vs. South Florida
MOST VALUABLE NEWCOMER: Chris Smith
The Big East's best walk-on was a godsend during the injury-plagued months of December and January, and finished the season averaging a surprisingly hearty 9.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, and 2.5 apg.
BEST MOMENT: Post-Notre Dame game celebration
I'm talking my celebration, your celebration, the team's celebration, all of it.
"Did you think about shooting?" "Oh yeah, definitely."
Pre-Senior Night love-fest
WORST MOMENT: Sad Preston on the bench against Morehead State
This is the last time this image/set of images will be discussed on this web site.
Sad Mike Marra interview after Big East title game loss
DeMonte Harper go-ahead three-pointer for Morehead State
Preston foul in regular season-finale against West Virginia
PLAY OF THE YEAR: Peyton Siva's buzzer-beater vs. West Virginia
Kuric's dunk obviously topped this in terms of the "holy mother f%$@ing s$#t" factor, but this was an unbelievable individual play that won a game the Cards desperately needed at the time.
Kyle Kuric's dunk vs. Notre Dame
Preston Knowles's halftime buzzer-beater against Syracuse
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE: Preston Knowles vs. Marquette
The most unfathomable four-minute individual performance I've ever witnessed from a Cardinal.
Peyton Siva vs. Connecticut (first meeting)
Kyle Kuric vs. Notre Dame (regular season)
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE BY AN OPPOSING PLAYER: Kevin Jones, West Virginia
Jones notched a career-high with 25 points and dominated the glass with 16 rebounds as the Mountaineers ended the regular season with a stunning last-second victory over the Cardinals.
Josh Harrellson, Kentucky
Marshon Brooks, Providence (first game)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN OPPOSING TEAM: Villanova
Before their inexplicable late-season collapse, Villanova was 15-1, ranked No. 7 in the country, took Louisville's best shot and still walked away with a 14-point victory. The Wildcats shot over 61% from three and over 53% from the field to earn their 10th straight victory.
Notre Dame (first meeting)
BEST IMAGE: Peyton Siva, Peyton Siva Sr., Smiling Charlie Strong (Pitt Game)
Preston to Kyle against Marquette
Bill Clinton with the team after the Notre Dame win at MSG (See Earlier)
BEST ANVILLEN/VILLENHD VIDEO (BY YOUR VOTES...YEAR END HIGHLIGHTS EXCLUDED): Louisville vs. Marquette
Louisville vs. UConn
Louisville vs. Providence
BEST OPEN THREAD: Louisville vs. San Francisco
Dual-winner for worst game and best open thread. I reckon there's some sort of correlation.
Louisville vs. Notre Dame (more than 2,100 comments of pure, unadulterated joy)
Louisville vs. Connecticut (happier times for Leo)
WORST OPEN THREAD: Louisville vs. DePaul
I will never forget...never.
ALSO NOMINATED: None
MOST VALUABLE FAN: Bearrence Jennings
Extremely stiff competition in this category, but the fact that Bearrence actually came and authored a post on the site earns him the nod. You're on the clock, Charlie.
Peyton Siva Sr.
LEAST VALUABLE FAN: Siva-hater at West Virginia game
After a Siva turnover fairly late in the second half, a gentleman in the section immediately to my right felt the need to stand up and shout as loud as he could: "I THOUGHT SOSA GRADUATED LAST YEAR! GET HIM OUT OF THE GAME! SIVA YOU ARE AWFUL!"
I'm not an acoustics expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm willing to bet that on-court audibility does not stretch all the way up to row Q of section 304. So basically, this grown man (who was not in the best of shape I'd like to add) was simply feeling the need to let all of the people in his general area know that he vehemently disapproved of the play of a Louisville Cardinal basketball player. Totally necessary.
Anyway, Siva promptly buries a three and creates a turnover. Dude has no reaction. A couple of minutes later Siva makes another errant pass and the guy jumps back into action with a couple of slightly less enthusiastic insults that I can't remember off-hand.
You know how the game ends.
So after about 15-20 seconds of going crazy and high-fiving, I look over and this guy is still sitting in his seat, he's staring at the ground, and he's shaking his head in apparent disgust. I understand that you have some sort of bias against our starting point guard, I understand that you just made yourself look like a complete ass in front of about 75-100 people, but you're here at a Louisville game wearing Louisville clothes, and you're sulking about a Louisville victory?
I'm willing to defend some fan behavior that goes beyond anything I would ever do, but this guy is just a straight up loser and I'd be completely fine with trading him to another team for a box of Krispy Kremes.
Rob Hinners (Stole my seat during the Big East championship game. Had sat there for first two wins)
LEAST VALUABLE OFFICIAL: Pat Driscoll
Worst technical ever. EVER.
BEST ANNOUNCER: Mike Gleason
I adopted him as one of our own in early February after he called his (approximately) 57th Louisville game of the season. Mike "Mr. Cardinal" Gleason is legit. And he's doing a phenomenal job hosting.
WORST PERFORMANCE BY AN ANNOUNCER: Digger Phelps (Notre Dame)
Again, refresher course:
Digger Phelps wore a Notre Dame sweater and referred to the Fighting Irish as "we" on at least two occasions last night. I understand that times have changed and that entertainment has taken the place of professionalism in terms of network priorities, but when it gets to the point where a game becomes unwatchable for an entire group of people (the group whose side wasn't being openly rooted for), something needs to be done.
Once Phelps had committed himself to the "Kuric's actions were reprehensible" angle, his comments for the rest of the night became more predictable than the series finale of Friends. Even when replay proved to the rest of the thinking world that the technical was weak at best, Phelps harped on the fact that it killed Louisville's momentum, got in Kuric's head, and took him out of the game completely in the second half.
Phelps stuck to his guns well into overtime, chalking a missed Kuric lay-up to the first half technical. Finally, Rece Davis had to interject: "I think he may have just rushed that one, coach." "Nope, it's in his head, it really is," was the speedy retort.
The frustrating thing about Digger is that he's so wrong all the time, and nothing ever changes. He's still employed, still haunts my television on a far-too-regular basis, and still carries himself with this completely undeserved sense of accomplishment that is impossible to understand or justify.
I still remember him picking Stanford to beat Louisville "handily" in the '07 NCAA Tournament, and then seeing him talk an hour later as if he'd taken the Cards all week when U of L led 46-20 at halftime.
It's one of the biggest "life isn't fair" situations out there.
Bob Knight (Notre Dame)
Dick Vitale (Butler)
BEST CARD CHRONICLE MEME: !
If only because we'll never get to do it again. The ! was highlighted in a Villen video, put on t-shirts for Senior Night, and referenced by Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn. Love that man. Love that meme.
King Stay The King
BEST DRESSED PLAYER IN STREET CLOTHES: Chris Smith
He spent the bulk of the season in uniform, but when he got the opportunity, the man still showed out.
Mark Jackson Jr.
BIGGEST PERSONAL OVERREACTION: The ten seconds following Marquette's buzzer-beating miss
If you don't think a reaction to this could possibly qualify as "over-the-top," you should have seen it.
Mike Marra pump-faking a three after hitting two straight against Marquette (Really wanted it)
Kuric dunk on the break against Providence ("What is happening here, Bob?")
WORST PERFORMANCE BY AN OPPOSING COACH: Isiah Thomas, Florida International
It's hard to top what Buzz Williams did in the closing minutes of the Marquette game, but Thomas' complete and utter lack of emotion made you feel genuinely bad for his players, and led to some justified criticism from the local media.
Buzz Williams, Marquette
Keno Davis, Providence (second game)
BEST HOME CROWD: Connecticut (second game)
This was the absolute best I've ever seen our student section. We should try to play a 9 p.m. game on a Friday night at least once a year.
MOST VALUABLE THREE-POINT SHOOTING CENTER: George Goode
He's like Clooney: you've got to work him into the show somehow to make sure he'll show up.
BIG EAST GAME YOU'VE ALREADY FORGOTTEN: Louisville 55, Rutgers 37
I remember a lot of blocked shots, and then...did TJ fly? Yeah, I think this is the game where TJ flew.
Louisville 86, South Florida 77
Louisville 73, Seton Hall 54
BEST PRESTON QUOTE: "As long as we win, I couldn't care less; my average can go down to four points and zero rebounds. As long as we win, I don't care."
(On the mini-jerseys): "I thought T.J. looked stupid, I thought Chris looked stupid and I thought Peyton looked extra, extra stupid in that tight uniform. I’ll never wear it."
(On the cheerleader): "Honestly, I'm still mad about that because that could have cost us the game. I have to say no comment."
BEST DANCE: The Preston Dance
MOST VALUABLE PARENT: Peyton Siva Sr.
This man is going to be tough to top for the next two years. One of you out there is going to have to do something drastic. I'm talking run onto the court and hug your son in a Card Chronicle shirt while he's in the middle of doing an interview with ESPN.
Beth Henderson (CC member)
George Goode's mom (seemed very nice)
And there it is.
I had my doubts, but the reality of what a wonderful season this was has already started to creep past the gloom and doom that was the way the year ended. Obviously, it wouldn't have been possible without the team and coaches doing the amazing things they did, but for me personally, I have to send special thanks to all of you for reading, commenting, and making the season on Card Chronicle easily the most enjoyable to date. Ordinarily, I enjoy the brief respite that spring provides, but right now I'd gladly welcome the opportunity to hit the hay tonight and wake up on the day of U of L's first October scrimmage.
The ride will be back before you know it.
Drive home safely.