So I've been tasked with previewing the Pittsburgh game. Sigh. What can be said that hasn't already been said, written, tweeted, texted or just screamed to the sky? When the ESPN College Gameday schedule came out, this likely was the best game of the weekend with 2 top-10 teams vying for the Big East championship. Now, thanks to injuries, apparent curses and the Wagner Seahawks, these two teams are each one bad loss away from writing off the season and riots in the dozens of arena bars.
Honestly, is anyone excited about this game? I'm not. And I hate that.
That is not to say that we should give up. I have been a UofL fan my whole life and will be one the rest of my life. Last year was probably the best year of Cardinal fandom outside of the 2006 football season, both seasons made bittersweet by unlucky injuries to favorite players, and what might have been.
Nothing can take away last year from us, and no matter how much we want it, this year is not last year. And maybe it never was going to be better. These guys have to be exhausted from the pressure that started to build as soon as Marra's shot went wide, as soon as they looked at the refs running towards the tunnel instead of running towards the scorers table to announce "foul" and "three shots" and "the clear, obvious foul call." You could see it from the beginning of the season and you can see it now, as the losses pile up. Every game was like a do-or-die, win-or-go-home game, and that wears on you.
Five years from now we are going to look back at the period spanning March 27, 2009 to whenever all of this madness ends with a strange detachment. March 27 was the day UK announced Calipari as their next coach while most of the city of Louisville was driving to Indy to see us whip Arizona in the Sweet 16. It was also the last day the Louisville Cardinals won an NCAA tournament basketball game. And who knows how this madness all ends: Cal leaves for the Knicks or Kings? Rick retires or "retires"? UK finally wins a championship and their fanbase shuts down the internet for 3 hours, causing federal hearings and National Guard intervention?
We'll look back and ask, did all of that really happen? I swear I remember exhibition games involving "villains" and Calipari taking the job of national team coach of a small island nation and coaching Francisco Garcia and Edgar Sosa against his own UK players. But that doesn't make sense. That sounds like a circus, not a college basketball program. Who would have done those things? I also vaguely recall something about a federal extortion trial? And like 4 guys being injured for the whole season. And someone named Bryce Cotton? But all of that seems off somehow, like there's no way that stuff really happened, did it?
Anyway, as fans and as a team, I think we just have to relax and take a breather. Get through this year, whatever the results. Clear our heads and just move on. Stop fighting the ghosts of the living: Goran Suton and Kenneth Faried and What is Happening Here, Bob and UK 1-and-dones past, present and future.
Because strange things are happening here, Bob. Strange things have been happening for the last three years. It is been weird and intense and bizarre. And I'm ready for it to be over.
Beat Pitt. Or not. Just play hard and let's all try to enjoy this weirdness while it lasts.