While I'm most certainly not the oldest CC fanatic & Louisville Cardinal fan I'm probably a little older than many on here (age 41). My Cardinal fandom goes back to the Doctors of Dunk & the decade that many say were our best years, the 1980's. I don't live in Louisville; I didn't attend school there. I have no family ties other than the fact that my wife was born in the 'Ville & lived there until she was almost 4 years old. But I am a Cardinal through & through. I love Louisville basketball & the tradition it is not just in the city or Commonwealth, but the nation as well. We are...LOUISVILLE! So I want to offer some insight as well as encouragement to my fellow Cardinal fans.
This season has been a tremendous boost in so many ways. Not only are we in the conversation of possible teams that are being talked about to cut down the nets- we actually have a legitimate chance of doing something we've not done 26 years: WIN IT ALL!!! This is a golden opportunity. We have the coach who has done it before. We have an Athletic Program that is built for such success. The fanbase is psyched & ready to roll. Some are waiting with baited breath for a trip to Atlanta & a Monday night victory in the Final Four. The enthusiasm & expectations are high. The regular season has been a success to say the least. Even with the little 3 game skid & an unbelievable comeback by ND we've not been blown out & have had opportunities to win every game we've played. The regular season has been great for all points & purposes. But are regular seasons as etched in history as the post season? Maybe to some, but to the basketball world? No.
In 2008 a sub .500 Georgia Bulldogs won the SEC tourney! Was their regular season what folks remember? No. It was the post season. In 2004 the St. Joseph's went undefeated in the regular season. They didn't win their Conference Tournament or the NCAA tournament. What are they most remembered for? Their regular season success or their post season failure? Anyone remember the New England Patriots a few years ago. 18- 1 is outstanding; but were they the Super Bowl Champions? No. I'm sure you're getting the point. The regular season gets you prepared & in position for the season that matters most. It is the post season success that is etched in history for decades & centuries to come. Banners, not regular season wins, are what folks remember and see.
I know that 2011 was a great season for us. That team was inspirational and had great heart. I loved watching them play. Some from that season are still on the team this year. But be honest, when you think about that 2011 team what do you always either think about or get reminded of: Morehead State in the 1st round of the NCAA. UGH!!!!! To this day that deflated feeling stings when I think about that game; that game in the post season. I was at the Marquette game when we came back from 18 down with just over 5 mins to go in the regular season. But the post season that year just...well...
As mad, disgusted, & embarrassed as I was at last years team at some points during the regular season (I told you & some of you ran me off of this site for several months) ALL of that was erased by what? The POST SEASON! The 2012 team is forever etched in NCAA history with a Final Four finish after a regular season that had its horrific lows. The 2011 team put together a sometimes overachieving regular season while the 2012 team put together what some called an overachieving post season. This year we've put together a pretty stellar regular season in many respects. Five losses by a total of 21 points is not bad at all. But what this team needs to do is (to quote Keifer Southerland in Young Guns II) say, "Let's finish the game"!
I want to ask you a serious question. Before you respond in haste, think about this: Is there such a thing as a "bad" Elite 8? Is there such a thing as a "bad" Final Four? The 2005 U of L squad is a team that I've grown more fond of over the years. Louisville had been off the radar for many years. In the previous 19 seasons we had only one Elite 8. That '05 team put us back on the map with a stellar regular season & Final Four appearance. That was a wonderful Final Four. In 1997 the Cards made an Elite 8 appearance, their first since 1986. That was a "good" Elite 8. In 2008 U of L made an Elite 8 appearance and did all that it could do. That year in the preseason we were ranked 7th & finished in the final 8. Mission accomplished...somewhat. Then in 2009, after a couple of silly inexcusable losses (UNLV for one) the Cards put together a supreme BE regular season going 16- 2 & winning the regular season championship, after that they backed it up by winning the Conference Tournament, & capturing the overall #1 seed in the NCAA! The result: Elite 8...once again. What was good in 2008 was in realty "bad" in 2009. That team didn't finish the game.
In 2012 our hearts were endeared to an overachieving, hard-nosed, young, gutsy team that fought their way to college basketball's biggest stage, the Final Four. Did I want us to beat UK? You bet your life I did? Did I think we had a chance? Yes! Did we win? No. But that team "finished the game". In 2005 & 2012, in all honesty, we were not the best team at the Final Four. Those 2 years are very- very good Final Four's. Those 2 teams did what they could do.
We stand now on the cusp of the 2012- 2013 post season. For all points & purposes I want us to do well in the BE tournament. I'd love for us to win it again at Madison Square Garden. We could & should do it. But another Conference Tournament is NOT what I'm wanting. Been there...done that! There is a game on Monday night, April the 8th, 2013 that I want to be playing in. There's a Championship trophy that everyone covets. This team is capable of more than just a Final Four. Louisville desperately needs another NCAA Championship Banner hanging in the rafters of the KFC Yum! Center! We are Louisville. We should expect that. This will be Siva & Gorgui's last chance. Let's Finish the Game!