Without a solid, well-built foundation, nothing can stand tall and weather the test of time.
Hall of Fame Coach Rick Pitino made a commitment to himself, this city, the school, and the Louisville Basketball program when he declared his intention to recruit and develop "Louisville Men". His batting average isn't 1000 and the definition continues to evolve, but Pitino's message is beginning to resonate through the national and international recruiting trail. Louisville Basketball is a known commodity, and kids and parent(s) know exactly what they are signing up for when pledging a commitment to Pitino's Cards. Rule changes and attitude shifts are inevitable, but this sturdy foundation being built will support Cardinal Basketball's elite status for years to come.
Cardinal success on the court is something all Cardinals rejoice and revel in, but most of us differ in our interest or involvement in the roller coaster ride known as recruiting. Personally, I pay attention and am aware and excited for any commitment, but I tend not to acknowledge a youngster as a Cardinal until he takes his first step onto the playing field. In our current society we are over-informed, constantly plugged in, and equally guilty of creating this era and generation of prima donnas. Teenaged athletes have their egos consistently inflated by parents, coaches, handlers, shoe companies, agents, and runners. Hall of fame coaches old enough to be their grandparents bend over backwards in a quest to lease an 18 year old's talent for seven months. The current state of college basketball recruiting is sickening, but nothing this bad can last forever.
Coach Pitino has always been and will continue to be a loud, honest, and heard voice in the world of basketball. His experiences and knowledge separate him from 99% of others in the sports realm. Luckily for Louisville, his journeys have given him great foresight. While simultaneously changing his own philosophy, Pitino has been one of the staunchest advocates for major rule changes in college basketball. As many of us know, "one and done" has diminished the appeal of college basketball and negatively impacted the NBA. Players are far less skilled, less coachable, underdeveloped, but making more money than ever imagined. The bubble will burst, the only variable is time.
In recent months, and with recent recruits, Rick Pitino has made it very clear that he has no tolerance for shoe company involvement in the AAU circuit and refuses to bend his will to appease AAU coaches and handlers. Pitino doesn't hand out starting positions with scholarships and his sales pitch is a Hall of Fame resume, the University of Louisville, the fan base, the Cardinal family, and the promise of being developed for life, not just basketball. As stated previous, Coach Pitino isn't perfect and a few shots have misfired, but the message is clear: it's Pitino's way, the Louisville way, or the highway.
Currently, the Louisville Man mantra is a point of pride for the school and its devoted followers. With that being said, Pitino has elevated the Cardinal brand and positioned it perfectly for the inevitable future. The demise of the "one and done" rule is imminent, and as more scandals breakthrough alongside the Syracuses, North Carolinas, and Memphis', the NCAA will be forced to reevaluate the current status of college basketball, recruiting, and the AAU circuit.
The University of Louisville has carried a torch embodying the "working man" for quite some time. Louisville has earned its position and status, but continuously battles perception. Coach Pitino and Louisville Basketball help carry this torch, and he believes in the old saying that nothing is given, it is earned.
When the rules change and the NBA forces the NCAA's hand, programs, AAU teams, and shoe companies will be scrambling to adopt to an old school reality where boys are developed into men and team comes before me. While Louisville's competition struggles to adjust, the foundation laid now by Rick Pitino assures that our Cardinals will continue to soar.
All Hail UofL !!