A lot of coaches like to break their seasons down in segments, or mini-seasons if you will. In college basketball, you could say that there are three seasons: the non-conference season, the conference season, and the post-season (hopefully). Normally for me, that last one starts when the NCAA Tournament starts. The conference tournament is usually just a time for Louisville to improve its resume and seeding. But with the Cards clearly on the bubble this year, that last season begins today. If for some reason it also ends today, so do the hopes of making the Big Dance.
For the first season, the non-conference portion, Louisville went 10-3. Given all of the drama and circumstances surrounding the program when the season started, 10-3 didn’t sound too bad. I’m pretty sure we would all take that, although the loss to Kentucky was bad, very bad. Aside from that, you still got wins over names like Memphis and Indiana. So the first season was acceptable. Not great, but you will take it and keep going.
When we get into the second season, things get a little more complicated, and rightfully so. When you play in the ACC, it should absolutely be more difficult. The Cards went 9-9 in that portion of the schedule, and we all know how it ended. Louisville went 1-4 in the last five games, and that included a 26 point loss as well as one of the most difficult endings to a game I have ever witnessed. We’ll leave it at that. I’m sure we won’t see ANY highlights of it this week during the ACC Tournament. The walk. The bank shot. Whatever.
Today, the third season begins. What does that mean? It means that the 26 point loss and the banked in three pointer at the buzzer mean nothing now. The loss to NC State? Nothing. It’s a clean slate. If you lose, you go home, and probably to the NIT. Nearly every bracket projection has Louisville as the first or second team on the outside looking in. That can be changed this week, and it starts today.
I’m not going to sit here and call out certain players by name. That has happened enough so I don’t have to pile on. But if Louisville is going to make anything of this new season, “hero ball” has to stay back home and not travel to Brooklyn. Some guys try to make the big play instead of the right play. Some guys forget out to play defense or have their hands up. Basketball looks best when guys are making the extra pass and then playing defense FOR each other, not just with each other. If Louisville can remember how to do these simple things, it could be a game (season) changer.
People can project all they want about how many games the Cards need to win this week to punch their ticket into the NCAA Tournament. Do they need to win two games, which would include a win over Virginia? Do they need to do even more? Here is what they need to do. Beat Florida State. Nothing else matters today. Beat the Seminoles. Survive and advance to play another day. We’ll reconvene after that and see where we stand. I don’t care at all about this year’s 19-12 record. I am excited to be 0-0 and see where this new season takes us.
Go Cards...Beat the ‘Noles!