And so did the Cardinals for the final time this year.
To lay to rest a dissatisfying season that shall be hard to forget though the oh so many adoring fans who showered their appreciation at the Yum! in the last week will wish they could.
The denouement was appropriate.
The moment was allegorical.
With 2:16 to play in the 3d, U of L was down 36-51.
The faithful in the stands, all evidence of the inevitability of the outcome notwithstanding, still believed.
They stood hollering, imploring the Cardinals on.
The visitors’ Xavian Stapleton missed a short jumper.
Neither side could snare the carom as it pinballed through several sets of hands, ending up on the floor.
Where it was surrounded by four Cardinals.
The Louisville guys, each thinking one of the others would secure possession, turned and headed up court for a breakout.
State’s Abdul Ado grabbed the rock and, unimpeded, flushed it.
The game in microcosm.
The season in a nutshell.
* * * * *
It is axiomatic within the limits of this glorious passion we reside called Hoopsylvania that securing a ticket to the Big Dance, where there’s always hope for that Cinderella moment, is the Holy Grail.
But for this band of Cardinals suffering unprecedented, odd and trying circumstances, for this program, reeling and facing an uncertain future, the NIT seemed a fitting opportunity.
Though the thud of last night’s defeat resonates short term, there was a reaffirmation of one important, oft forgotten reality that bodes eternal in this community.
There is a spirit force of Cardinal fans, whose loyalty is embedded in the helix of their DNA. Give these multitudes an opportunity, and they shall be a sixth man on the court.
These beleaguered Cardinals, these kids who never seemed to shake the daze that descended with lightning and thunder directly before the season, learned in the end, they were/are/shall forever be loved.
Flawed, inconsistent, exasperating, they remain an important segment of the continuum of University of Louisville Cardinal basketball , the link from past glorious eras to the next, from Jack Coleman and Ish Combs to Charlie Tyra and Phil Rollins to Wes Unseld and Butch Beard to Junior Bridgeman and Allen Murphy to Darrell Griffith and the McCray brothers to Billy Thompson and Pervis Ellison to Luke Hancock and Peyton Siva to Q and Ray.
Cardinal hoops abides.
May this imperfect, improbable season rest in peace.
— Seedy K