Happy New Year Card Nation! I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas season & want to wish all of you the best in 2014. I'm hopeful for another blessed & happy year for me & my family & also for our beloved Louisville Cardinals.
As I type this out & post my views or opinions on some critical things concerning our basketball & football teams, please understand my fan- hood & history with the 'Ville. My earliest days as a Card fan are primarily basketball with vivid memories of the 1982 & 1983 Cardinal teams. Their Final Four appearances caught my attention dramatically. Growing up in a coal mining county that only had UK games on tape delay & live radio broadcast on our local stations, it was exciting to say the least when I did get to see Louisville play. I was in awe of the different style of play they had & fell in love with the way they were able to rise to the occasion in the post season. At age 14 I got to see them win the NCAA against the Duke boys on TV with my dad. Now, at 41 (will be 42 this month), I was able to experience the joy of it with my wife & 2 daughters. We're all Louisville fans in this household! So with that said, if I sound as if I'm throwing in the towel or questioning the higher powers that be at U of L, please know that it is NOT with malice or slight.
I don't live in Louisville. I didn't grow up there. My wife was born there but moved away when she was 3. I see things from "Outside the 'Ville". I depend on Mike & the Card Chronicle for all things Louisville. I love his perspective, insight, & breaking news. The Card Chronicle is addictive to say the least. I love the analysis here by all of you, whether I agree with it or not. So, I'd like to give you some thoughts, perspective, & opinions from "Outside the 'Ville" & ask this question: "Am I wrong?" Because it's the biggest story right now, I'll start with football.
I must admit that Mike's post on how that the coaching job for Louisville football is "A Stepping Stone" could not be more true. For years I've felt that the University of Louisville football team was always going to be on the verge of greatness (and maybe even achieve it from time to time), but never able to sustain it consistently. Our Sugar Bowl win was spectacular. The Orange Bowl a few years ago was also special. If there was ever a year in which Louisville football could have an undefeated season (National Championship or not), it would have been this year. Playing in the AAC afforded us an awesome chance to do something we could lay claim to regardless of our bowl placement. Yet even with the probable #1 pick in the NFL draft & a Coach like Charlie Strong we were unable to do what we should've done. This is just my opinion, but I really do wonder if Louisville Football will ever be a serious or consistent contender for a National Championship. I hope I'm wrong...but I don't think so. I sort of feel like we may become the Gonzaga of football. Their basketball team is always on the verge (according to the media), but they never can seem to put it all together for real. I will still watch them, support them, & buy their merchandise & hope for the best. The reality is that the Commonwealth is a basketball state. It's going to be very difficult at best for Louisville football to reach the elite of the elite status. We're already a top program. But...Am I wrong in my views?
At 10 pm CST on December the 27th I got a phone call that blew me away. I was given a lower bowl ticket & President's Hospitality Room pass to Rupp Arena & our game against the Wildcats. Keep in mind that all time in attending U of L games, I had never seen the Cardinals lose a game! I decked myself out in red, waltzed right into that ugly blue hospitality room with my friend in red with me, sat down at the table amongst the Blue dogs & didn't give a rip what they thought about me being there. (All of the fixin's were available & they had a mean sloppy joe sandwich). I was very- very proud to see as much red make it into Rupp as they did. I was there, many more 'Ville fans were too, & we were ready to see our "experience" win out over talent. I was sorely disappointed.
Guys, we looked like the team with all the freshmen. How can Russ, Luke, Wayne, Chane (oh my...Chane), Trezl, & SVT play in front of 75,000 people in a National Championship game, then come to "CoRuppt Arena" & act like the crowd & pressure got to them? I was there...I saw their body language. How do Russ & Luke miss enough FT's to have sent the game into OT? How does Trezl go 2 for 2 from the line & Russ shoot 5 for 10? Luke? 0 for 1- the front end of a bonus? I know- I know people have told me "well KY shot poorly from the foul line too". That's right! But you can NEVER do anything about what another team does from their foul line- but can dang well control what you do from your own free throw line. Julius Randle was off the charts & if Montrezl wants to play at the next level he'd better start learning how to defend people like him. Randle is nothing compared to what's at the next level. My guess is Trezl will be back next year. I hope so. He is good...very good, with potential to be great.
* Luke needs to find his shot consistently again & his overall FT shooting has got to be what it was against Rutgers. He's still playing sort of clunky & seems to be off balance sometimes. I've said it before & I'll say forever: Hitting your Free Throws will not only win you some games, they'll also win you some championships!
* Wayne's early foul trouble against UK was ridiculous. He has to be one of the unluckiest players of all time for Louisville. I still see his potential & he's been pretty consistent minus the UK game, but we need him now more than ever.
* I'll say this without any hesitation or bias: Russ Smith is the best guard in the country!
* SVT has got to give us more quality minutes. He has to be a spark on both ends of the floor. We need him to concentrate on beating up the other teams big man. I love his effort for the most part. We just need his experience.
* Mangok is a work in progress. He's not Gorgui & we should not expect him to be. He does, however, have a lot of upside. I can see him being a solid contributor in the next few years. Speaking of Gorgui, if he wasn't going to be getting but 6 minutes a game in the NBA he'd have been better off to come back to Louisville & lead us to another Final Four (maybe even another title).
* Acoy? Oh boy is all I can say. He needs A LOT of work. We sure could use Zach Price at this time.
* Terry Rozier- already a star in the making. Gonna be a great 3- 4 year player for us that just might bring us another title. Love his effort & enthusiasm. Good & getting better.
* Chris Jones is all that he was made out to be. Honestly, can he be over 5' 8"? Yet that doesn't stop him from scoring. He's not Peyton but he sure is a nice replacement.
* Chane: Chane- Chane- Chane. I pray that he rehabs, recovers, & revitalizes his career somewhere. Such potential seemingly wasted.
* Tim Henderson: So glad to see him get a scholarship. We may very need his heroics in another game or 2 this year.
My honest opinion is that this team is still be legitimate threat for a 3rd straight Final Four, and, if the bracket fell right, contend for another title. There's no dominant team right now that I see & think we have a pretty good chance to make a very deep run come March & April. I'm sure there'll be a game or 2 that are head scratchers & leave us wondering why or how we lost, but that's only natural for Louisville it seems. All I heard from folks is how that both UK & UL needed to win that game to make a statement for their resume. Well let me just say this: We are Louisville and that's all the statement we need! We don't have to make a statement: We are a statement. "Louisville": 'nuff said!
But I will close with this: Whether it's statements made by the Football coaching staff about the fan attendance or duration of attendance during the games, from "Outside the 'Ville" I can conquer with some of the complaints that the coaches may have had. Even at basketball games I sometimes really wonder why people buy tickets, pay to park, then come to the game late & leave early? That has always gotten to me. In fact, I'm sort of offended. I don't live in Louisville. I can't come to the games as much as I'd like. To attend a game is an 8 hour day roundtrip & a minimum of $100. I'd go more if I could & when I do get to go (like the SMU game) & see people show up late & at the same time leave early, I'm flabbergasted. From "Outside the 'Ville" you folks "Inside the 'Ville" need to understand what an opportunity you have & take full advantage of it. I'm not a KY fan nor want to be them. But I have to give them credit. They got there to the game early & stayed the whole time. Why don't folks "Inside the 'Ville" do that? These are just some thoughts, perspective & opinions from "Outside the 'Ville": Am I Wrong?