It's one thing to watch the team you've followed religiously for the past four and-a-half months being bounced from the NCAA Tournament, but the experience hits another level when it happens at a sports book in Las Vegas where dozens of Louisville betters in the surrounding area are blaming you and your red and black-clad friends for losing their money. I took a walk to vacate some fluids at halftime and heard, "you guys gonna wake up?" or some variation at least six or seven times.
It's not like I wasn't trying to guard Patrick Christopher, it's just that he's got about seven inches on me and it was my first competitive basketball game since the 8th grade. And you're right, I shouldn't have taken that contested jumper around the six-minute mark. I guess being on TV for the first time since I dressed as Snoopy for Trick-or-Treat at the Zoo just got to my head.
Anyway, I think this was the only way the season could have ended. They couldn't have just lost and it couldn't have just been one of the departing seniors who played the game of his life, they had to keep making mini-runs to pique our interest and it had to be a freshman with a lot of upside who scored 20 points and kept them in the game.
Things were so predictable that near the beginning of the second half I issued the following statement: "They're going to keep making enough mini-runs to keep us watching, then they're going to cut it to four or five with eight minutes left, we're all going to go crazy, I'm going to say 'I have no idea why we're getting excited,' and then Cal's going to hit some big shots and we're going to lose by double-digits."
Jerry trying to run the point for the first time all night with the clock winding down on his Cardinal career and then Pitino getting the T he needed to draw about two months ago was the perfect capper.
I'm not going to say I'm glad it's over, because it being over completely removes that faint hope of everything coming together that has been in the back of all of our minds for the past couple of months, that faint hope that has kept us interested and (at times) excited. But in the end, this team will be remembered for the last game in Freedom Hall, maybe the controversy early on in the Kentucky game, and that's about all.
College basketball season in Louisville is over, and I'm horribly depressed as always, but I can't lie and say it doesn't feel like there hasn't been some tension relieved from my shoulders. For eight months, concerns over whether or not Louisville is going to decide to play defense or make an effort to rebound are over. We don't have to cheer against other bubble teams or worry that our guys aren't going to show up for a Tuesday night home game against Rutgers.
At least that part's nice. Still, early November can't get here soon enough.