This is my first post on Card Chronicle. Mike, I've been reading your blog for a while but never felt the need to post anything. Everyone here seems to do a great job of that. But I sensed something desperate about the mood this week and thougt I needed to say something.
At this time of year, when everyone is obsessing over what seed our Cards will receive in the NCAAs or how they'll do in the Big East Championship, or even if they'll be able to compete with #2 Syracuse today, I thought it might be a good idea to bring some humanity into the discussion. I live in New York and last weekend took a trip downtown to the 9/11 Memorial. For those who haven't seen or heard about it, it is an unmistakably beautiful and serene place. The waterfalls flowing into to the two "bottomless" pools are mezmorizing and really set the mood. The rush of the water over the sides masks the noises of what otherwise would be a bustling nightmare of human activity. But in the heart of downtown NYC, there exists a place of quietude where Americans and people the world over can engage in solemn remembrance of the souls lost that tragic day (of course there will always people who take group pictures, smiling as if they're at Disneyworld, but what can you do...).
The reason I bring this up is because I don't personally know anyone who perished oon 9/11. And I'm very thankful for that. But as I was walking around the South Pool (representing the South Tower), I overheard a woman talking to someone and pointing out the names of a cousin and a friend. I immediately thought, how horrible that must be for her, but also how peaceful she might feel that her loved ones were remembered in such a simple yet beautiful way. The second thought I had was, I owe it to myself and my University of Louisville Cardinals to find where Billy Minardi's name was (it can be found at the joining of panels N-54 and N-55, at the North Pool). The man that was such a big part of Rick's past must have been a loss that few people can truly grasp. It's not like he just died. the man was murdered. Killed in a terrorist act. And the loss that Rick must have felt, that his entire family must have felt, I don't ever want to experience that. The fact that we have a Billy Minardi Classic every year to raise funds for his family and for those affected by the tragedy of 9/11 is a testament to how important this person was to Coach Pitino. After being at the Memorial and seeing his name, it puts a whole new perspective for me on what that game means to our coach and our program. I am not really a man who cries, but I was moved in a very powerful way by seeing his name on the memorial, as Billy Minardi is now foever linked to our program. For anyone travelling to the Big East Championship next week, please do whatever you need to do to get down to the 9/11 Memorial. For me, it was something that I wasn't itching to see, but after going there, I think anyone who has the means should visit the place. And definitely pay your respects to William George Minardi.
I guess the point of my post is this: when you think about what kind of performance our team has today and what kind of coaching job Rick is doing (even I am baffled by his decisions sometimes, and Russ's), remember that he is human. And that the players are human. And that they are touched by a lot of things around them, not the least of which are family issues. Remember how you felt in Rick's first year, with one player basically carrying us to 19 wins and some very fun wins over UT and heartbreak vs. Temple in the NIT ice hockey condensation game at Freedom Hall. Remember that feeling. when you were excited to be a Cards fan simply because we had a basketball coach who breathed intensity and passion and life back into our program, and that shortly after that, tragedy struck his family. Remember that these guys are just humans like we all are, full of mistakes and successes. And that no matter what is going on with the team, they need, they absolutely require, our full enthusiasm and support. If nothing else than to simply show that we care about them and that their lives will forever be linked to the city of Louisville and our beloved Cardinals. We are bigger than one game or one season. Go Cards! Beat Cuse!