Sports provides us with the best unscripted entertainment. And this year’s NCAA basketball plot was another example of the rollercoaster ride that is sports fandom. In June of 2017 the UofL basketball program was hammered by the NCAA and the university had never been lower. In an unprecedented move the NCAA removed the Cards of their 2013 basketball championship. Louisville appealed the ruling but the banner still came down.
All was lost.
Until wins started piling up for this year’s team.
Nothing heals sporting wounds faster than wins and Coach Pitino’s team provided lots of medicine for its fans. Whether Pitino was at the helm or not the Cards could not be slowed. Like a wrecking ball they crashed through their tough non conference schedule then went on to win their first ACC title. On Selection Sunday, playoff anxiety had never been higher for Louisville fans. Could this year’s team right the wrongs of the past? Could these Cards get over the recent NCAA tourney slump? Would redemption be had? Would a new banner go up?
Last night when the Cards defeated the Arizona Wildcats Louisville fans got their answers. YES! YES! YES! YES!
The Cards length and athleticism smothered the talented Arizona team. Louisville had a jaw dropping 23 blocks in the game. They rabidly protected the rim and rejected the Wildcats over and over. The game’s MVP Deng Adel was a force on offense and defense. He led all scorers with 27 points and swiped the ball 6 times from Arizona. Many people thought Louisville’s youth would be an advantage to the Wildcats but 2 Cardinal freshman posted double doubles. No players on this Louisville team had anything to do with the 2013 banner coming down but they played with an intensity as if it were their responsibility to redeem the program.
In June a banner came down and in an unbelievable twist of fate that only sports can provide, in April another banner goes up. The Cards won a fourth title for their fans and a third title (again) for the NCAA.