Outside of “what the hell is going on at U of L,” the question I get the most from inquisitive Cardinal fans on the internet is probably “what’s the deal with DePaul?”
As we prepare to embark on our first DePaul Day in nearly nine years, let us all gather around the virtual fireplace and listen to the story of why we’re here ...
Generally a fan unwilling to overlook even the feeblest of opponents, the day on which the Louisville Cardinals face the DePaul Blue Demons in the game of men’s basketball is one I celebrate with extreme reverence. It’s an occasion I have, for about as long as I can remember, referred to simply as “DePaul Day.”
For some time during our youth, a group of friends and I had danced around the idea that it was somehow impossible for Louisville to lose to DePaul in men’s basketball. I embraced the notion fully for the first time in 1999.
It was in that year that then-freshman walk-on Quentin Bailey completely outplayed eventual Conference USA Player of the Year Quentin Richardson in a 71-68 Cardinal victory. In the middle of the game, Bill Raftery actually referred to Bailey as “the real Q” (a statement which would sent the world into a frenzy in 2021, but was just a nice slap in the face to DePaul in 1999). The Blue Demons had appeared to be the vastly superior team, but an almost supernatural force seemed to prevent them from victory.
Any and all doubt had been removed. DePaul Day was established as an official holiday.
Further proof of DePaul Day’s power came in 2007, when Juan Palacios - who entered the game having scored a total of ten points in U of L’s last four contests - hit 8-of-10 shots and dropped 21 on the Blue Demons in a 59-50 victory for the struggling Cardinals. Not only was JDP hitting open jumpers, he was effortlessly putting the ball behind his back on the fast break, doing double pump dunks, making no-look bounce passes and various other things that he would have been completely incapable of doing on any other day of the calendar year.
You put Blue Demon jerseys on the Lakers, toss them into the KFC Yum Center and put “DePaul” on the scoreboard, and all of the sudden Brad Colbert is cramming on LeBron. It’s science.
Most recently, we had a 2013 DePaul Day where Russ Smith scored his 1,000th career point, referenced “DePaul Day” during his postgame press conference, Luke Hancock dunked, and Chane Behanan almost killed a guy.
I would have been fine with this being DePaul Day’s lasting image for forever, but the powers that be at U of L and DU had other ideas. I’m glad they did. We’ve never needed a holiday more than we need one right now.
Over the past few years, DePaul Day has faced countless critics. We’ve had a near cancelation, an all-out war on DePaul Day, and enemies who continually bring up the fact that the “record books” show that U of L actually lost overtime games to DePaul in both 2003 and 2004. But those games weren’t nationally televised and I was out of town and unable to watch the actual broadcast, so I don’t believe for a second that either of them actually happened. I’ve done my own research, and Louisville actually won both those games and is in fact undefeated all-time against the Blue Demons.
We know we have enemies. We know there are those who wanted this holiday to drift off into the ether forever. But we’re still here.
How do we address these detractors? These DePaul Day libertines? Well, we eat, drink, watch a movie, nap in a hammock, take a trip to Fiji; whatever we usually do when we’re completely at peace. It’s fucking DePaul Day.
I know there’s a lot of chatter about this DePaul team being 8-1 and way more gifted than any DePaul team in recent history. There are also people pointing to the small point spread and the fact that this team is returning to a Yum Center where they haven’t played their best basketball this season.
Put all of this out of your minds for the remainder of the day and night. Let the spirit of this holiday wash over and consume you.
Every DePaul Day I write a post like this, and every year people flip out, call it a jinx and talk about what they’re going to do to me if we lose. This also does not phase me, for it is DePaul Day, and on DePaul Day, fear is as impossible to find as an active University of Louisville president or athletic director (James Joyce).
They may win big, they may win small, but there is one absolute certainty when it comes to this evening: the Louisville Cardinals will defeat the DePaul Blue Demons.
Enjoy DePaul Day 2021. You’ve earned it.