There has been a lot of looking back since the Sugar Bowl victory and the Quick commitment about the run we've been on as a program. OneShiningMoment did a great job of Chron'ing the last 50 days of Cardinal fandom and what a surreal and unbelievable ride it has been. Sparked by a discussion with some of my favorite tweeters the other night, I realized that as awesome as things are now, it will be different when we look back based on everything that happens next that we have no idea about.
This seems obvious, but think about the Orange Bowl victory. That was the first BCS win in program history, a convincing win over the ACC champion with one of our favorite teams of all time. But looking back, with everything that came after, it is bittersweet: we had it so good! but we should have won it all! A few days later Petrino left, which also substantially colors the way we feel about that time period now. I can't watch the 2010-11 VillenHD season highlights and hear What is Happening Here, Bob? without getting sad about how it all ended. I wish I could, but that's just not how we are wired.
So I hope everyone is enjoying the hell out of right now, because who knows what comes next.
I didn't see the movie Looper, but I'm sure you saw as many previews as I did: Bruce Willis sent back in time, sees his younger self and there are guns. I bring this up because when I sat down to write the Seton Hall preview, my first thought was "when was the last time we played them? It was at Seton Hall, right?"
That's right, the game that started it all. If you want to mark a point in time when this Era of Goode Feelings began, it would have to be the last time we played Seton Hall. Coming off a horrible end of the regular season, we limped into this game as fans hoping for the best but preparing for it to be perhaps our last victory of the season, or worse, the first of our last two losses.
But, it wasn't. And they played just well enough that it was like, well, that was Seton Hall, but we made open shots, and we had a semblance of an offense...so....right?
Bringing it all together, if on January 9, 2013 you Looped back in time and showed up like Bruce Willis and talked to Joseph Gordon-Levitt (you of March 7, 2012), would that person believe a word you said? No f'in way. Since March 7, 2012, we have experienced exactly FOUR losses as Louisville football/basketball fans. Four. Consider that the previous four losses occurred over a period of 20 DAYS. I know that includes a large period of the offseason, but think about how many things can be lost in the offseason, like conference affiliation and coaches. We will lose again this season, and our season may even end with a loss. More likely than not, it will.
But this team we have right now is as good as we've had in our lives. They play hard, they play fast, they are fun to watch, they are fun to cheer for, they are good kids and soon they will move on and we will have to check Raptors or Suns or Magic highlights to see them play basketball. So no matter how this season ends, I'm going to try my best to simultaneously enjoy the present and tag these memories with some sort of vaccine against future bittersweetness.
Because it is inevitable that whatever happens next will color how you look back on this time period in our fandom. Short of a national championship in basketball or a BCS championship, I can't imagine things being any better.
Enjoy the hell out of it, because soon everything will be different.
Okay, But What About Seton Hall
Enough of that. You get it. Will one of our losses be to these Pirates? It is not likely, but it is certainly possible. A close cousin of the December out of conference upset under Pitino has been the January out-of-nowhere-terrible-Big-East-Loss. Mostly on the road (lost by 31 points to Providence last year, 14 to Nova and then 5 to a terrible Providence team in 2011, by 3 to this Seton Hall team in 2010 in a game I have literally no memory of oh wait it was the game Hazell scored 105 points) but also at home (Notre Dame last year, etc.).
And Seton Hall is coached by one Kevin Willard, a former assistant coach and Pitino protege. Their record looks great (12-3) but it has been against a less than difficult schedule (#310 according to KenPom and approximately 213th according to my own eyes: 1 point wins over DePaul and Stony Brook, losses to Washington, LSU and ND the latter two coming on the road, etc. But they are tough at home, having won 8 in a row there and being led by a great shooter in Fuquan Edwin. Louisvillian Aaron Cosby, is also a big scoring threat and figures to look to make a statement against the hometown team.
As Mike noted earlier, Seton Hall is battling injuries as well. They only went 7-deep against ND and that did not work out well, forcing their starters to log major minutes and relying on only 2 reserves to play a bunch as well. Like a good Pitino disciple-coached (although he's evolved so whatever) Seton Hall shoots a lot of 3 pointers and is second in the Big East in % at 38.2, according to ESPN.com. Preventing their guards from going off from 3, especially early, will be key. If Edwin and Cosby hit a couple early and get hot, well, we've all seen that movie before.
And no matter what happens, we are good, if history is any guide we will lose a game or two that we shouldn't to a hot shooting team when our guys have a cold night, and as long as it doesn't happen in the tournament, it's really not the end of the world.
But if for some reason there is a cosmic significance to us playing Seton Hall, and whatever loop was opened that led to the greatest 10 months in Cardinal sports history close tomorrow night, your future self will be better off for the experience and will know exactly how to handle it.