And, that's that.
Louisville's season ends a way more than respectable 25 up, 9 down, a victory short of the NCAA Round of 16, .
Losing to the hottest team in the land, a well coached, mature Michigan Wolverine outfit is disappointing -- obviously -- but not a surprise, truth be told.
73-69. But, the Cards never stopped pushing.
My personal take on my beloved favorite team has been that the Sweet 16 was the best it would be able to achieve. U of L didn't make it quite that far. That said, I, for one, have no complaints.
At moments like this, when the sweaty unis are in a pile on the locker room floor to be cleaned and stored until the next campaign, there is but one consideration: Did the Cardinals give their all, even if it ended in defeat.
Frankly you can't ask for more. Okay, maybe you can. I can't.
* * * * *
After the opening round conquest of Jacksonville State, I praised Rick Pitino, never known for his ability to adjust in game, for doing just that. The Cards played man exclusively against the undermanned Gamecocks, but got off to a rocky start.
Though they would have more than likely prevailed anyway, a major key to that W was that U of L stopped switching on D. It shut down JSU.
Unfortunately The Rick didn't see fit to make the same adjustment against a significantly better Michigan squad, which after halftime exploited the Louisville's switching with relative ease.
Instead he put the blame on his charges.
"We made some bad switches by not communicating. Mangok was trying to tell the guards to get over it so we didn't have to switch. We wanted to switch going toward the perimeter, not going to the basket. We made some poor switches."
Sensing that, Pitino still didn't feel the need to try something different.
"We broke down defensively."
Perhaps a tweak might have been in order.
But what do I know?
So, another foe can now point to his career game against Louisville. German Mo Wagner had his best American experience ever, especially in the second half, when he kept finding himself checked by the wrong guy.
He scored 26 on the afternoon. 17 came after the break on 7/9 shooting, most on driving layups.
The Wolverines starters played 175 of 200 minutes. Obviously U of L's "deep bench" wasn't a factor in the outcome.
* * * * *
As I said, I haven't any plaints about the Cardinals' play.
Though it's probably not fair to mention, Q was a bit off his feed. But, on the TV post game show, Kenny Smith, a former guard of consequence who should know, offered that it's hard for a PG to find his true rhythm when the game plan is to feed it inside every trip.
So, please don't think my mention of it, criticism of Snider. He was busting his hump just like the rest of the guys.
Besides Tony Hicks played fairly well in his last game in the red & black.
* * * * *
Louisville did not lose the game because of FTs. That's a good thing.
The reality is this edition of U of L hoops simply wasn't as good as Cardinal fans hoped.
The squad's lack of basketball savvy haunted it the entire season. It's potential was never fully realized.
And they weren't quite up to the task of felling Michigan, which is, as it is said, on a mission.
* * * * *
My perspective, and to those who have been reading my Cardinal game stories for years, I apologize for the reiteration.
I've been in love with U of L hoops since I attended my first game at the Jefferson County Armory in 1952.
Before the Cards finally won a crown in '80, my friends would joke my gravestone would read, "He Only Wanted One."
During the extended championship dry spell after '86, I'd say, "Just one more for symmetry's sake."
After the '13 title, I understood I was sated, that I'd savor the process and accept future outcomes as long as U of L teams gave it their all.
This team has done that.
This inveterate U of L Cardinal fan can ask for no more.
-- Seedy K