In case you haven't picked up Webster's 2016 release, here is what you are missing. A noticeable addition has been made when searching the word "stability", and now it simply reads "University of Louisville Men's Basketball". I'm not sure if Webster is a fan of the red and black or one of Rutherford's petitions finally made it through the system, but the new definition suits me just fine. Our beloved program has had just two treasured monarchs over the last five decades, and Coach Pitino is showing no signs of stopping as his tried and true formula of success has begun offering glimpses of the greatness to come.
Denny Crum and Rick Pitino have, in their own way and on their own path, taken this program and University to places never thought possible. In their combined 45 year tenures, Kentucky has had seven head coaches, North Carolina has had four, Indiana four, Duke four, UCLA 10, Kansas four, and Michigan State has had three. 45 years with a hall of famer pacing the sideline. That kind of stability mixed with Louisville's success has created jealous rivals, enemies in powerful positions, and disingenuous journalists scouring for anything to advance their careers. Louisville Basketball isn't invincible, but the program has been consistently unflappable in its pursuit of championships.
In its most recent attempt to derail a promising season, the media has launched its own full court press against Coach Pitino by reporting on imaginative rumors of his interest in the UNLV head coaching position. Louisville will survive and move forward whenever Pitino decides to walk away, but if you haven't learned anything about our head man it should be crystal clear that he isn't a one to cut and run.
Pitino made promises to the University of Kentucky in 1989, fulfilled them, and resurrected their program with a championship before departing for the Boston Celtics and Tim Duncan. Coach Pitino made similar promises to Tom Jurich in 2001, passed over many opportunities to bolt, saw a previous scandal through to justice, and delivered Louisville's first title in 27 years. Pitino should undoubtedly see the current scandal through to its bitter end, but he has given this university, community, and program his all, and his legacy is written regardless of what the future holds.
Coach Crum and Pitino were, and have been successful for countless reasons, but both believed in their strengths and stuck/stick to their proven formulas. As a Wooden disciple, Crum clung to emphasizing a strong shooting percentage with purposeful passing and strategic offensive sets. Pitino made his career on the full court press, stifling defense, and the three point shot. His insistence on conditioning and learning his way the hard way repeatedly produces teams that peak in March. Both Crum and Pitino evolved through the careers, but the pillars of their success never were and never will be abandoned.
As Louisville begins its annual journey towards the tournament, the complete lockdown of Pittsburgh coupled with the offensive and defensive obliteration of Florida State was the first glimpse of its championship potential. The Cardinals held a team averaging almost 90 points per contest to 41. The defense won't always be that strong, it can't be, but now Pitino's misfit toys know what they are capable of. Pitino's recipe for conference championships and final fours is beginning to showcase that well documented reliance again, and if the Cards can survive their upcoming gauntlet while getting healthy, watch out. The Cardinals will face Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina in a span of eight days, and defense will be the key ingredient to propelling these Cards to atop the ACC.
ESPN and the Courier Journal may want the masses to believe otherwise, but University of Louisville Men's Basketball is one of the premier and most successful programs in the history of the game. Stability and consistency breed success and the Cardinals will weather this current storm like they've weathered the past century. Whether it be Crum or Pitino, Louisville Basketball has clung to what it knows best these last 45 years, winning. Coach Pitino will continue to do what is best for this program, and on April 5th, year 46 with just our second coach will begin and Cardinal fans everywhere may be enjoying the count to number four.
All Hail UofL !!