While having suffered defeat at the hands of the Kentucky Wildcats the prior three seasons, including the 2012 Final Four, the Louisville Cardinals Basketball team has become exceptional at processing defeat. They handle it like champions. Ironic huh? Anyway, Rick Pitino has his Cardinals winning at an unprecedented rate for their program en route their first ever #1 Associated Press ranking. They are coming off their first win against the Wildcats in basketball since January 4, 2009 so things are awfully rosy for “little brother.” But as well as they handle failure on the hard court, they handle success the complete opposite. And by “they” I mean their fans. For the life of me, I cannot understand why gift horses are always looked in the mouth but our red clad brothers up North display such an amazing gift with regularity. For example:
Today I read an article by CBS National Columnist Gregg Doyel where he goes through great pains to lavish deserved praises on Rick Pitino and the success he is having at “little brother” in the midst of this “UK Dynasty.” Below are some excerpts from his article I have linked above:
What Rick Pitino has done at Louisville isn’t impossible, but it should have been. The Cardinals aren’t the top basketball program in their state. Sometimes not even in their city. But they’re No. 1 in the country?
Down the road from John Calipari?
It’s impossible, or should be. Calipari is a force of nature, the most powerful coach in college basketball — he recruits at a level we’ve never seen, and he coaches at a level that may elude rival fans but wows rival coaches — and he’s in the prime of his career. Last season Kentucky won the national championship. Next season he will unveil perhaps the greatest freshman class of all time. That’s quite a Calipari sandwich.
But that creamy filling in the middle is the most decorated regular-season team in Louisville history.
Clearly Doyel is not disparaging Rick Pitino or their program in any way, and as you read a few other excerpts, you’ll understand the premise of his article but will fail to understand the logic behind “little brother’s” angst.
Hard to believe, but Louisville — a school with two national championships and nine Final Four appearances — had never been ranked No. 1 during the regular season by the Associated Press until this week.
Getting there now, in that state, with Kentucky in the middle of a run historians will remember as dynastic, is absurd. Never mind that Kentucky is unranked at the moment and not assured of reaching the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats have made two consecutive Final Four appearances, and next season — when those new freshmen arrive — they’ll be favored to get there again. This is a dynasty we’re watching unfold, even if this is a down season we’re watching crumple.
Impossible, as I say, to succeed at the level Pitino has succeeded while Calipari is doing his thing in Lexington. And I say that knowing full well how good Pitino is. He won a national title in 1996 at Kentucky, and he put together that ’98 team Tubby Smith guided to another title. Pitino was the first coach in college basketball history to take three different schools to the Final Four. Calipari, of course, became the second. Point being, Pitino is the goods. He’s not in the Naismith Hall of Fame, but he will be some day and in the meantime his omission is ridiculous. If you were to list the top coaches in college basketball history, you might not start with Rick Pitino — but you wouldn’t get far before calling his name.
The man’s good. Great, even. But what he’s doing now, the way he has Louisville thriving even as Calipari is rewriting history up the road, is startling. And there are some Kentucky fans who appreciate it. I know these people, and I know how conflicted some of them are by Pitino’s presence at Louisville, even 11-plus years after he took the job. Pitino didn’t just win a national title at Kentucky — he brought Kentucky back from the dead, back from scandals and NCAA probation and a 13-19 crater in 1989 under Eddie Sutton.
For now, though, he’s at Louisville. And he has the Cardinals ranked No. 1 in America.
Which is, in its own way, as impressive as anything Rick Pitino has ever done.
The piece is a fair depiction of the state of college basketball in Kentucky while simultaneously completely congratulatory of Pitino’s accomplishment with the team this season. So I ask you, Big Blue Nation, what makes “little brother” react this way.