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Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Whither the Cardinals?

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Was it really a lifetime ago that I was in my recliner, tuned into conference championship week, and games were being cancelled while one was still on, at least for a half?

Just one lifetime?

Talk about pulling up short.

Comprendez vous this vernacular, “blue balls?” And I’m not talking about what UK uses during practice.

Well, that’s what it felt like. At least to this hoopaholic.

Leonard Hamilton was accepting the ACC title trophy. How strange was that?

Then the NCAA tournament . . . pffft! Into thin air and gone.

But hey not much has gone on since last March. You know, just kind of another ordinary 21st C annum.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow has crept in this petty pace from day to day . . . until . . . tomorrow.

On the morrow, November 24, life starts anew.

* * * * *

It is with fear, but not a nanomeasure of loathing, that I look forward to the upcoming season of college hoops.

Such is my trepidation that I couldn’t even zoom in to Chris Mack’s day-before presser, worried Wednesday’s tip against Evansville might be announced as postponed/ cancelled, fretting there will be yet another injury to a key Cardinal, you know just the general unknown that has settled in as the norm in 2020, The Worst Year of Our Lives.

Which doesn’t mean I haven’t noticed what’s being said about my Cardinals. Or, more correctly, not said. I’ve read hoops expert roundtables, where U of L is not only not considered an ACC title contender, and not among the schools that will make it to the Dance, but sometimes not even mentioned at all.

The Cards aren’t mentioned in many — most???, any??? — projected Top 25s.

Ken Pomeroy has U of L at #28. Joe Lunardi has Louisville listed as a #7 seed. (Which is one in the same. Four regions x 7 seeds = 28.) AP, also receiving votes, #31. Coaches poll, also receiving votes.

Is it my imagination, or are the halcyon days for the Louisville Cardinals a thing of the past? Not to mention the foreboding thunder and lightning of NCAA sanctions on the come.

Will Chris Mack be able to turn this campaign’s band of Cardinals into the overachievers he fashioned in his later years at Xavier? Will he eventually prove to be Louisville’s third, HoF national title coach in a row?

Is U of L going to be battered underneath early on without its leader/ pivot man, and without the Dwayne Sutton grad transfer replacement?

How am I personally going to deal with not being in the gym for the games, as I have been previously . . . since I was 7 years old?

* * * * *

At this juncture, I was going to weigh in on other curiosities of the upcoming campaign.

Like how the court at the Yum! will be surrounded with plexiglass like a hockey arena. Like how the coaches nationally have agreed to dress down in polo shirts. (I’ve never understood why they wear suits anyway.)

Like how Ayo Dosunmu is my favorite non-Cardinal, and how thinned-down Brad Underwood’s Illinois team is my dark horse. Like how ACC fans are going to hate Sam Hauser in a UVa uni as much as they hated Kyle Guy. Especially early on when he still had his man bun.

Instead, I’m going to end it here. For now.

And get on my knees, light some incense and pray to Naismithius that the upcoming season unfolds more normally than we have any right to expect.

Starting Wednesday at 4:00, when the Cardinals are scheduled to play Evansville’s Purple Aces.

— c d kaplan