I didn't sleep last night. I couldn't sleep last night. The outcome of last night's game seemed very favorable for 39 minutes and then Aaron Harrison nailed a shot from the corner. I don't even remember Aaron Harrison making more than one shot the entire game before that. UofL packed it in and forced Kentucky to take jump shots and for 39 minutes Kentucky kept clanking them. Sure, there were a few that went in but more often than not Kentucky just kept shooting jump shots and that is exactly what Pitino wanted. When the ball went into Julius Randle and Chris Jones doubled down on him forcing him to kick it out to Harrison that is exactly what Pitino wanted. And Harrison nailed it. As a basketball fanatic, I've watched a lot of college basketball this year and I've seen plenty of Kentucky games. For 3 months, Randle attacks the hoop. He attacks the double team but this time, this time was different. He kicked it out to Harrison and Harrison nailed it. Louisville led this game early 18-5. At that moment, I thought Kentucky was buried but they battled back. Did officiating play a role? Perhaps but Russ Smith as we all know was 4-10 from the free throw line in the first half. Kentucky didn't fade, their confidence never waved, and they remained resilient despite having to play Dominique Hawkins? I hate Kentucky and I don't even think the word hate is strong enough to describe how much I do not like them but I have to give them credit. They overcame adversity At the end of the game, they were celebrating and their fans were jubilant. On the opposite end of the spectrum, us Louisville fans were left licking our wounds. Our pride had been shattered, our hearts broken into little pieces as if the love of our life has left us at the altar. In fact, I equate this lost to something like that. All season long, UofL had showed the inability to finish off teams in the minutes when we had them by the throats. It was 66-59. The final score was 74-69. Kentucky finished the game on a 15-3 run. The Kentucky freshman, the ones who were supposed to be overwhelmed by the moment, changed the narrative of this game. We can blame the refs. Let's be honest- they sucked. We can blame Wayne for missing one of two free throws with a chance to tie. A junior who is 75% free throw shooter is supposed to make both free throws but he blew it. You can be upset with Russ for taking an ill-advised three then throwing the ball away with the game tied. A first-team All-American cannot do that in those moments. So the narrative of last night's game will forever be missed opportunities and Kentucky taking advantage and seizing the moment. The young Wildcats were resilient and prevented a UofL dynasty. It stings. A terrible narrative to end a memorable three year run. As depressed and heartbroken as we all are at how this ended, losing to our bitter rivals, to a coach we all despise because we all assume he is cheating (He has proven to have cheated before but nobody knows if he is doing it now), and to a fanbase that spends its existence ridiculing us even by use of racial slurs, I'm urging you to not trust the narrative. It may be an end of an era but the narrative isn't what we think it is.
So if the narrative isn't about Uk's resiliency and if it isn't about UofL blowing opportunity after opportunity to finish off the young Wildcats then what is it? All over social media and in game thread and the Twitter cap thread on Card Chronicle everyone has been talking about last night does not affect what UofL has accomplished over the last 3 years. In 2011, when UofL lost that game to Morehead St., I was on a mission trip and was watching the game via ESPN Sportscenter scoring update. When I saw the final score, I fainted in bushes and got bit a spider bite. I don't think I have ever felt more depressed as a Cardinal fan. In 2012, after that lost to Syracuse to end the season I only saw one end to our journey and it wasn't a good one. Plus it was inevitable that year that UK was going to win it all and that just wasn't fair to me and although they did win it all UofL went on a Big East tourney run for the ages and then made the Final Four and then won the championship last year. So we will always have the memories but how does that help us now? My friend texted me last night and said UofL fans were entitled. He's from New Mexico and a big New Mexico fan. They've never made a Sweet 16 and would've been overjoyed to be in our position. I told him in Louisville we don't cut down the nets, we don't celebrate unless we win a title. Anything else is just unsatisfactory so yes as a Louisville fan I am entitled. If we are being honest, all UofL fans are entitled but with good reason. Anyways my point is, and maybe it will make zero sense to anyone but typing this out helps me feel better, my point is that Louisville just wasn't meant to win that game. It is my belief sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way but it's only because there is a purpose. Mathiang's layup that rimmed out, Wayne's missed free throw, all the little bounces that could've changed the outcome of the game that went in Kentucky's favor was just part of something bigger than us. Does it suck? Yes. But that's life. I wish I could've put my hand inside my television and made sure Mathiang's layup stayed down but that's not feasible. The University of Louisville basketball program has had a great 3 year run but it's not over. New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. Russ is gone. Luke is gone. SVT is gone. Wichita is gone. Trez is probably gone but the story isn't over. It has only begun. For now, we must sit back and watch someone else's story unfold because we all have one and although I will never root for Kentucky they have their own narrative going as well. For the next 48 hours and maybe longer you will hear that Kentucky has gone from disappointing to dominant but even that is a false narrative at the moment. How it will unfold is beyond my power but I believe just because this beloved era of players is over, just because UK looks to be who we thought they would be, the narrative is not over- for us, not for them, or any one. Don't trust the ones that currently being written because it is still unfolding. Thank you for reading and Go Cards!