As much as I'd love to throw a fit; as much as I'd like to rant & rave about the horrible loss that Thursday night was...As much as I'd like to do all of that & more- I won't. I'm not here to be down-in-the-mouth or overly negative. I'm just asking: "So where do we go from here?"
I had to DVR the game because my daughters were in action with their middle school basketball team (which they won their game). As I tuned in I found myself slamming my Directv remote on the furniture, yelling a little, & honestly wondering what I was watching at times. A close friend of mine & his wife attended the game & before driving home afterwards down the Western KY Parkway heading to Madisonville they sent me a text, "The Season is OVER!" Now, I'm not going to go that far, but I can understand how he feels. We've not beaten anyone- ANYONE at all this year & the only named opponents we've faced (UNC, UK, & Memphis) have taken us down. Let's look at this a little closer.
Russ Smith, Wayne Blackshear, Luke Hancock, SVT, Tim Henderson, & Trezl are wearing Championship rings (so is Kevin, although he's yet to play in either Final Four & Chane can't be counted now). All of them are/were significant pieces of our Championship season last year. These are supposed to be guys that are battle tested...unable to be rattled. I know that there's much basketball to be played & YES! There is still plenty of time to right the ship. Yet for some reason there is something keeping this team from hitting its stride. All of us have our opinions as to why it is or isn't happening. Some will argue we miss Peyton more than Gorgui & vise- versa. But right now guys this team is not going to beat anyone very good.
In all reality, as bad as it stinks in many ways, I'm GLAD we're playing in the American this year. Imagine having to face UNC again, Duke, Syracuse, go back to Notre Dame, Miami, etc... Honestly, playing this way right now, we'd struggle to make the tourney if we were in the ACC this year.
But all is not lost! We still have a Hall of Fame Coach who still has a passion for winning. We have the talent, tools, & team to make a turnaround. We are Louisville, but it's time we started playing like Louisville. The AAC is still wide open & we should beat anyone & everyone we play from here on out. This is doable. In fact- it's probable! Yes I'm discouraged. Yes I'm frustrated. But we're not done! The season is NOT over!
My personal opinion is similar to some of yours. I'd like to see Russ, Wayne, Luke, Trezl, & Mangok start. Jones & Rozier seem to bring spark off the bench. Utilize SVT & Tim when necessary. Throw some Anton Gill in there as well. But I like the first 5 I mentioned. These 5, to me, give us the best chance to win now. Only one team in America has the chance to go to 3 straight Final Fours and that's us. Let's put the players on the floor that give us the best chance to do just that.
I will say this (which will probably get many of you mad at me). I honestly, truthfully, & genuinely mean no disrespect: This is just something that's been wearing on me, so here it is: We've hired Petrino- IT"S DONE!!! We've reestablished ourselves & have the cornerstone of stability in Football. I know- I know there's assistant coaches & coordinator's to hire & players to check the status of- But it's basketball season & our basketball team needs us concerned about them right now. It is their season that's being played & we are still the National Champions IN BASKETBALL!!!! Yes, I support the football Cards & will be fully on board come late spring (after our 3rd straight Final Four). I'm on board now, but riding on the Basketball bus of the Cardinal Caravan. I care about all of our sports from soccer to lacrosse, softball to baseball, swimming, tennis, diving, Coach Walz & the Lady Cards, etc... I know at Louisville we believe at winning in EVERY sport, we're not just a "One and Done" like the people in Lexganistan. But right now in men's basketball we're approaching time status critical. ESPN has wore me out with all the Petrino talk & the "good hire- bad hire" stuff. I'm glad TJ took care of this & look forward to great success on the gridiron. But again, it's basketball season & the question at hand is with them: "So Where Do We Go From Here?"