Not sure when the real postseason writing will start. The Final Four seems like a million years ago already, even though it was just last weekend. The month of March was amazing, intense, exhausting and rewarding like no other month as a Louisville Cardinal fan that I can remember. And unlike any season I can ever remember, we head into the offseason with positive, hopeful and appreciative feelings. Which is shocking considering we lost in our last game to our most bitter rival, who went on to win the national championship. You'd think a loss like that would be CRUSHING. But strangely not. The last few seasons especially have ended with bad tastes - first round losses, Elite 8 losses that were disappointments. I can't remember a tournament loss that took less time to get over than this year. Maybe 2007 v. Texas A&M when the entire team was coming back? But the way that game went, still felt like it was too soon and too awful of a way to end the season.
Anyway, more on that later, I'm sure. The basketball offseason is so long you have to break it into phases. Roughly:
Phase One: Bitterness, sadness and what-might-have-been conversations about shots/plays/fouls/tactical decisions. This year, this phase lasted about 5 minutes for me, and it basically coincided with the last 5 minutes of the UK game.
Phase Two: Excitement over football. As a defense mechanism, you immediately pretend you don't care about basketball and start worrying about second string offensive linemen and whether our Wide Receivers feelings get hurt when they don't get the ball thrown to them and/or another WR catches a touchdown. This phase lasts through the Spring Game.
Phase Three: Looking back with VillenHD and other "Best XXX of the season" polls. That's where we are today. Quit watching the Cincinnati video over and over ("you are a constellation!!!!") and expand your horizons. Review the whole season, say things like "I have literally no memory of that game/play" and "wow we were literally a different team in the tournaments than we were even 2 weeks beforehand, like, a completely, completely different team" and get excited about next year. If I ever get the time, I'd also like to do a "Best 150 Russ Moments of the Season." And decide once and for all if this year's "What is Happening Here, Bob" is "Nice Pass, Russ" or "All You Wanna Do Is Use Insta-Gram" (Chris Smith (Gorgui Voice)) or even "When you roll, roll hard" (Gorgui (Gorgui Voice)).
Phase Four: Thunder --> Derby Festival --> Derby. Do not think about Louisville basketball once except when you see players at the track or hear about other people seeing players at the track.
Phase Five: Post-Derby Louisville. Just a weird time, feels like you can finally take a breath and sit down, look up and say "Wow, where did mid-February, March, April and the first week of May go?" As it relates to Louisville basketball, at this point you are like, well I'm excited, I'll watch a VillenHD every couple days instead of 4 times per day, and have you seen those screenshots for NCAA 2013? I hope they really improved the gameplay, LBs should not be able to intercept a ball thrown deep over the middle by jumping 11 feet in the air. Basketball? Ya, I'm excited about that too.
Phase Six: Summer. Unless there is August basketball, this is the longest phase. You would give ANYTHING to watch Louisville basketball. Your wife/significant other/dog thinks you are weird as you watch the same highlight VillenHD over and over.
Phase Seven: Football season. All of a sudden time is flying. You watch the Tip-Off luncheon and then get back to worrying about playing at Heinz Field. Oh, the Red-White Scrimmage? I dunno, I'd love to go but I just spent 5 hours at PJCS tailgating and watching the UConn game and I'm exhausted and I dunno is it on TV? There are pre-season rankings and magazine covers and honorifics, but there's so much football news that it gets lost in the shuffle.
Phase Eight: Exhibition games. It's like when you are really hungry, and wait an extra hour to eat, you can barely eat anything? Or, you devour whatever is in front of you and feel sick as a dog afterwards? After more than 6 months of no Louisville basketball, these exhibition games are one or the other. Sometimes you analyze every single possession, play and shot against Georgetown College as if it were the Final Four and make yourself sick. This year I predict the pre-season build up, excitement, rankings, Wayne, etc. will have us so ready for these preseason games that we will have 800+ comments in the open thread.
Phase Nine: The Season Starts. Things. Get. Real.
So we are basically in Phases 2 and 3 right now, and how about a poll? In the comments, nominate your favorite VillenHD for the season and explain why. The Top 10 or so will be put into a poll in a couple of days. Obviously Cincinnati, Marquette and Notre Dame BET and all four NCAA Tourney wins will be in the poll. UConn will definitely be there. Vandy/Memphis will get strong looks. But this is not set in stone. Go to the archives. Watch the videos. Weep openly. And then make your case.