Moving on or "letting the past be the past" isn't really my thing. I tend not to appreciate something until it's taken away or has grown so tired of my (accurately) perceived indifference and steady stream of sarcasm that it decides a Burger King parking lot is as good a place as any to pull the plug. It's only when I no longer have these things at my disposal that I can't stop thinking about them.
It's now been a full work week since Louisville's 2007-2008 season came to a close, which means the worst days (think withdrawal scene from Trainspotting) are in my rear view mirror, and I can now begin the slow and awkward progression towards the semi-normal life that I'll lead for the next six and-a-half months or so.
I think this season has left us all with a pretty solid, and unusual, feeling of contentment. The Cards were ranked sixth in the preseason and advanced to the Elite Eight, meaning they neither exceeded nor played below expectations. This is definitely a deviation from the norm.
But this season, like any other, was about much more than the stuff anyone can read on paper. It was about the ups and downs of injuries and suspensions, the thrill of a conference championship race, three amazing seniors, and a memorable NCAA Tournament run.
So even with the Samardo Samuels era and the second year of the Preston Knowles World Domination Tour right around the corner, I think it's important that we all stop, and take a look back at the season that was. And I think it's equally important that we do so in the form of a fake awards show.
All awards presented by the ever-regal Vinny Tatum.
Most Valuable Player: David Padgett
The obvious choice to take home this award, Padgett was likely more valuable to his team than any other player in college basketball. Louisville looked eerily like a squad bound for the bubble without him in December, and then rode his miraculous return all the way to the Elite Eight. Few players in recent memory have meant more to U of L basketball.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Andre McGee
Due in large part to Edgar Sosa's monster performance against Texas A&M, McGee spent the vast majority of the '07-'08 preseason as nothing more than an afterthought. He responded by earning the starting point guard spot, leading the team in three-point shooting, committing just 30 turnovers in 36 games, and playing ferocious defense for five months. With Sosa never really breaking out of his sophomore slump, imagine where this team would have been without No. 33.
Biggest Disappointment: Edgar Sosa
For every bright day there has to be a dark night. A tremendous tail end to his freshman season had many Cardinal fans expecting Edgar Sosa to be an All-Big East performer as a sophomore. What they got, however, was a young man trying so hard to compensate for a pair of missed free-throws and an ill-advised three-point attempt that he foolishly abandoned the game that had garnered him all of the positive attention in the first place.
The good news is that the talent is still there, and long summer days can do wonders when it comes to righting a mindset that drifted into wrong territory. U of L fans can only hope that Bad Edgar died at precisely the same moment the Cards' tournament run did.
George Goode (sorry George)
Best Game (For Louisville): Louisville 79, Tennessee 60
What was widely predicted to be the best game of the third round turned into a rout, as Rick Pitino improved to 8-0 in the Sweet 16 and the Cards rolled over Tennessee. The UT game was neck-and-neck with the Oklahoma massacre in this category, but the fact that I was in attendance gave it the extra little push it needed to bring home the hardware (the winners get wrenches).
Louisville 78, Oklahoma 48
Louisville 89, Kentucky 75
Best Game (Overall): Georgetown 55, Louisville 52
Two of the best teams in the country battling for both a two seed in the NCAA Tournament and a conference championship. You really can't ask for much more from a regular season game.
Louisville 75, Pittsburgh 73
Connecticut 69, Louisville 67
Worst Game (For Louisville): Seton Hall 92, Louisville 82
I quickly dismissed this game as a fluke, and still view it as such, but it was definitely a bitter pill to swallow at the time. David Padgett was back, the Cards had just rolled Kentucky, West Virginia and Marquette, and then this happened. Jeremy Hazell is officially the new Brendan Plavich...at least as far as earning the distinction of the space left blank in "who the hell does this guy think he is, ____?" goes.
Dayton 70, Louisville 65
Cincinnati 58, Louisville 57
Worst Game (Overall): Louisville 64, Old Dominion 53
Not only were Card fans deprived of a showdown with North Carolina in the Las Vegas Shootout (did the BYU game ultimately cost us a better shot at the Final Four? probably), but they were forced to follow the consolation game against Old Dominion on stat tracker, as it was the first non-televised Louisville basketball game in four years. Both of these reasons make this otherwise highly forgettable game the worst tilt of the season.
Louisville 84, Jackson State 53
Louisville 73, Morehead State 49
Most Valuable Freshman: Preston Knowles
Was this award created solely so that Preston Knowles would win something? Absolutely.
George Goode (Red/White Scrimmage Performance)
Most Memorable Moment: Bench Reaction to Terrance Farley's Airballed Free-Throw Against Oklahoma
It sort of sucks that this had to come at the expense of a Cardinal player, but the immediate reactions of the players on the bench were absolutely priceless. Plus, we were nearing the end of one of the biggest ass-kickings the Round of 32 has ever been privy to. All was right with the world in this moment.
Rick Pitino Suit Switch Against Georgetown
Postgame Speeches on Senior Day
Most Annoying Performance by an Opposing Head Coach: Bobby Gonzalez (Seton Hall)
Tim Welsh's exaggerated antics while trying to show critics in the nation's smallest state just how much he really does care (it didn't work, apparently) definitely earned him a hard look, but the douchebaggery on display from Bobby Gonzalez on that January night in Newark was simply impossible to top. Tim Russert would have had to have taken the head coaching job at Rutgers and done the Macarena at midcourt in the middle of the game at the RAC for this thing to have been a real contest.
Tim Welsh (Providence)
Tom Crean (Marquette)
Best Dunk: Terrence Williams' "Shoestring Dunk" Against Syracuse
No talkie, just pictures.
T-Will Reverse Dunk Against Hartford (bonus points for earning him a triple-double)
Earl Clark Alley-Oop Against Tennessee
Best Individual Performance: Earl Clark vs. Tennessee
Though he began the game with three inexcusable turnovers, I can't remember a Louisville player dominating the second half against a team as good as Tennessee the way Earl Clark did two weeks ago. He absolutely abused the Volunteer frontline in the game's final 20 minutes, and finished the night with a team-high 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. It's rare that you witness a player earn himself several million dollars with a single performance, but I think this may have very well been the case for Earl on March 27.
Terrence Williams vs. Depaul
David Padgett vs. Notre Dame
Best Individual Performance by an Opposing Player: Luke Harangody (Notre Dame)
When you're already a lock for Big East Player of the Year and aren't going to sneak up on anybody, and you still drop 40 on one of the better defenses in the country, well then I think you're allowed to shave your head and doom your team's otherwise promising postseason outlook. It was the hair Luke, the hair!
Jeremy Hazell (Seton Hall)
Brian Roberts (Dayton)
Best Recovery From an Injury: Juan Palacios (Retina Scratch)
There were a hoard of contenders to take home this honor, but only one resulted in what is probably the second most famous accessory in the history of Louisville basketball (it's going to take something truly immaculate to top Wiley Brown's thumb).
Pic courtesy of Cardinal Empire
David Padgett (Fractured Knee Cap)
Juan Palacios (Torn MCL)
Worst Performance by an Announcer: "Bending, Bending Guy" (First Pittsburgh Game)
In addition to his now infamous catchphrase, "Bending, Bending Guy" was the only announcer this year to recognize both the solid play and the faults of Andre Smith and Terrence Clark, respectively.
Bucky Waters (Depaul Game)
Doug Gottlieb (Dayton Game)
Best Dressed Player in Street Clothes: George Goode
A strong performance to start the season had me expecting big things out of Reggie Delk, but a lack of variety was ultimately his undoing. The blue shirt/black pants combo can only take you so far my man. Goode's healthy utilization of sharp button-downs and snazzy sweaters makes him the runaway winner.
Most Valuable Bench Cheerleader: Terrance Farley
T-Far's trademark jump in place and double arm-raise on three-point attempts will be sorely missed next season.
Most Annoying Performance by an Opposing Player: Jerel McNeal (Marquette)
You just can't argue every single whistle that goes against you or one of your teammates, let alone do it so vehemently. You don't see catchers framing pitches in the dirt and then bitching about not getting the call.
DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh...actually really like him, but the smiling got old pretty quickly)
Ramel Bradley (Kentucky)
Big East Game You've Most Likely Already Forgotten About: Louisville 67, St. John's 57
I remember something about Anthony Mason Jr., and then everything else is a blur. Was there a snake involved, or am I thinking about something else?
Louisville 64, Rutgers 49
Louisville 80, Providence 72
Most Obnoxious Performance by a Spectator: North Carolina Fan Sitting Behind Me in Charlotte
Again, there's no way I can accurately communicate just how awful a human being this woman was, so I'm not even going to try.
Drunk Marquette Guy Trying to Fight People With His Team Down 25
"Hey Pitino, Why Don't You Put a Team on the Floor That Actually Knows How to Play the Game of Bass-keet-bawl" Guy From the Notre Dame Game
Best Home Crowd: Georgetown Game
Biggest lock since Saving Private Ryan.
What's that? Shakespeare in what? If that's the same move I'm thinking of, then I've seen it, and it's terrible. The one where Gwenyth Paltrow gets topless, right? Yeah, that's an awful movie. Solid work Academy. Unbelievable.
Senior Day vs. Villanova
West Virginia Game
Wow, we really should have saved some of the bigger awards for the end.