A few days ago, I was sitting around brainstorming things that could be eventually turned into a blog post about Louisville basketball. Lots of things came to mind, but I only wanted to put fingers to keyboard if I could think of something that could be unequivocally and concretely answered with one singular answer.
So I decided to pose the question asking which player will define the next era of Louisville basketball. It's funny, though, because there's not really just one... Anyway.
Who is it going to be? Maybe a better question, who defined the last one? When was the last one? Does it have to be a four year period to be defined by one player?
For the purpose of refining this single line of thought, I thought up the following guidelines:
1. For an era of a college basketball program to be defined by one player, it must be a three-to-four-year period.
2. Therefore, the defining player has to have been on the roster for all 3-4 years of the determined period.
3. An era does not have to be directly following a previous era. For example, if we eventually decide nobody defined the past, say, four years of Louisville basketball (foreshadowing), then it doesn't have to have a name put to it.
4. The Revision Provision a.k.a "The RevoPro": The good, fair and honest members of Card Chronicle are allowed to add/delete guidelines and call the current guidelines stupid if they want to. They can do this whenever they so please, and under no circumstance will it require any kind of fair majority or consensus. This is because we already said that the members of Card Chronicle are good, fair and honest.
5. Regardless, guidelines 1-4 are charter guidelines, and they'll never have that taken away from them no matter what happens in the comments section.
This isn't subjective anymore, this is science. It's even got its first slang term for everyone discussing it to use amongst each other. Jargon, if you will.
The Last Era
For starters, we'll take a look at the last era of Louisville basketball. For the purposes of starting the discussion, I'm nominating the last four seasons as the last era. This seemed like a relatively agreeable time frame to start with given Louisville's recent success, and it was also the basis of the idea for even starting this post in the first place.
If we're talking about the past four seasons, the first nomination is pretty obvious. Russ Smith may have been the most remarkable player at Louisville during his four-year career, which is impressive considering the fact that he did it amongst some other remarkable talent. The names that first come to mind that surrounded him are Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and Luke Hancock.
Smith was an intriguing story from the beginning, and the plot only seemed to thicken as his minutes increased. His personality was infectious and his talent toed the line between brilliance and insanity, usually leaning towards the former. Rick Pitino, Louisville teammates and fans alike became endeared to Smith quickly, and he only strengthened that bond with his play.
As we know, Smith's maturation ultimately ended with him being named a first team All-American during his senior season. This came after a host of other awards, including being named the Most Outstanding Player in the Midwest Regional during the 2013 national championship run. Because of this and more, the "Russ Smith Era" sounds like a fitting way to sum it all up.
The Next Era
This season's team isn't all new. It features familiar faces like Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier that returned alongside the likes of Chris Jones and others. Under the first draft of guidelines, it's not specified if the next era can overlap with a previous one, so it's time for the first amendment.
Amendment I: Player eras can overlap in cases where the successor demonstrates a similar national prominence after the previous era definer has departed.
Now there's an amendment to the process. That's how serious this is.
Trez seems to be the most likely candidate to be a defining player out of the current bunch of Cardinals, and there's no question that Harrell's high-flying ability has captured the attention of a national audience. I mean, SportsCenter did a rundown of all of the different types of dunks he demonstrated during the Indiana game with one of their fun checklist graphics on the highlight package. No matter what you think of ESPN, it was pretty neat.
Rozier feels like the next best option, though he may not stay long enough to have that impact given his ability and the attention he's received from scouts at the next level. His performance during the Indiana game was exactly the type of display that probably raised some of those influential eyebrows, as he shot the ball well while still showing his ability to be dangerous and under control when attacking the rim.
To keep this relatively short, Harrell and Rozier clearly have the most potential to have an era to themselves. At least one of them will all but certainly leave Louisville after the season, but they're the current frontrunners anyway. As for the crop of underclassmen, we still haven't seen Shaqquan Aaron, but Chinanu Onuaku has to be the freshman favorite at the moment after the way he's started the season. When he becomes even more polished and gets in better shape under Pitino, he'll be a problem for opponents fairly consistently down low.
Really, the only sound conclusion here is that there is no sound conclusion. There has been a whole host of players recently that have defined Cardinal basketball in the minds of fans, and Russdiculous was just the first one that came to mind as the poster boy for it all. With that said, this is clearly not the authoritative opinion on this imaginary honor, and it'd be great to have some more input from the rest of the CC community.
Again, remember that guideline four gives everyone full permission to dismiss this whole idea as stupid. But it'd be way more fun if nobody did that. Either way, carry on.