We all knew it was coming, the fans, the students, the school, the city, the coaches, and the players had months to prepare, but nothing could have readied us for the 2013/2014 ACC waiting period that almost immediately morphed into a Louisville-wide zombieland.
Our football team and fans could have, and more often than not did sleepwalk through the entire season. As soon as the unmentionable occurred, football season ended in the minds of most Cardinal faithful and their attention turned to the defending champs. Basketball would save us, rise and repeat became the motto and everyone eagerly awaited the continuation of a new Louisville dynasty.
The season started as expected, but a certain boredom had crept into the program and the Yum Center, a lingering disease not cured by football's 12-1 season. An abysmal home non-conference schedule, a few losses to upper crust opponents, a brutal winter, the dramatic never ending saga of Chane Behanan, the emotional replacement of two-faced Charlie, a top heavy conference, bizarre eight day layoffs, and a 19-4 record later the Cardinals and their faithful are finally approaching the expiration of this yada yada yada sporting year. I can't believe UK lives through such similar monotony every basketball season and I now respect them more for their survival and fandom. The request is simple. Grab either your favorite brand of tequila, or the one that gives you the worst tequila face imaginable, pour a double and ready yourself for the final six to hopefully eight weeks of Cardinal Basketball. The Bird Boys and their HOF coach need us, and as most of us already know due to our lifetime devotion to everything red and black, we need them.
Hard to believe that our current band of loveable misfits have a better record than the champions did at the same point in the previous season. The difference between the two squads, we knew last year's team had all the championship pieces and the majority was never concerned with the few stumbling blocks. It is far too obvious which piece this Louisville team is missing, but thankfully a weak schedule and a 30 team race for the title has helped mask our five spot inferiority. No one knows exactly how this team can make a third straight final four, but if the elation occurs it will most likely be due to hot outside shooting, suffocating zone defense, field goals off of assists, and an unrelenting attitude to possess the defensive glass.
When asked about the Cardinals potential seed the other day I responded the ceiling is a one seed, the floor is a 10. Winning our remaining games would mean winning the regular season conference title, and the conference tournament. With the AAC's upper echelon flexing their muscles in the recent polls, and the volatility of the rest of the country, it would be hard to envision a 30-4 defending champion Louisville not receiving a top slot. As nice as that dream would be, if the Cardinals slip up against Temple, Rutgers or South Florida, and continue their underperformance against ranked teams, limping into the tourney as a disappointing 10 seed is certainly a nightmarish reality. I honestly don't care what our seed is going to be, the fact is we have a great shot to win the championship, along with 20-30 other teams, and regardless of seeding we will have to defeat good teams to rise and repeat.
The plea is simple, four weeks remain in the wtf-is-the-AAC era and the bridge is almost complete to a fantasy unobtainable just 15 months ago. The fat and happy routine needs to end immediately and reality must engulf us Cardinal fans once more. Another basketball season is drawing to a rapid close, the pride and joy of this university is getting ready to take an eight month vacation, and it is time for the fans, the coaches, and the players to fulfill the goals and preparations that began April 8, 2013.
Rise and repeat was a clever marketing slogan, dynasty is a word associated with only the best of the best in all of sport, and the Cardinals, as well as their fans, have a chance to capture both. Lose your voice, outlaw laundering your favorite Bird gear, make your travel arrangements, verbally assault officials, and by all means join me in Cardinal dedicated drunken revelry April 7 in Dallas. Until then ladies and gentlemen, enjoy every second as if it is your last, and as for the AAC, our kiss goodbye will surely be the sweetest.
All Hail UofL !!