I misspoke. I’d like to say that my account was hacked or that someone posted an article under my name.
That didn’t happen.
Just a few short weeks ago, I proclaimed the University of Louisville/University of Kentucky men’s basketball rivalry back for next year. See for yourself here.
Allow me the time and space to clarify.
With Russ Smith returning to Louisville, the Cards look formidable once again and have to be on the short list to return to the Final Four in April 2014 when it’s played in Dallas at Cowboys Stadium. I’m never one to knock a young man for returning to school (how many of us wish we could go back and have one carefree year on campus?). But, let’s slow down and look at the Cards run to the 2013 NCAA title. It took the best Louisville team in a generation to win it all when the overall play in college basketball was at it’s lowest in a generation.
We’ve become prisoners of the moment. We’re quick to take what happened most recently and make it the norm rather than stepping back and seeing that maybe it’s an anomaly. Yes, Louisville won the 2013 championship. Yes, Kentucky didn’t make the NCAA tournament. That’s all well and good and factually true. National writers and Lord knows the Louisville area sports journalists are quick to jump on Cal, saying his way won’t yield long term results, despite the fact that this past year was the second time in seven that Cal didn’t coach a 30 win basketball team (his 29 win 2010-11 team did reach the Final Four). They’re trying to tell us that someone who is 123-26 since arriving in Lexington (83% winning percentage) has no idea what he’s doing and that one bad season has some how derailed his long term plans for the UK program.
Sure. If you say so.
Here’s what we know: The University of Louisville Men’s Basketball team is good. Very good. Historically, they’re a top 10 program. The Cards have the pedigree and accolades to prove it. Two Hall of Fame coaches. The titles. The Final Fours. The All Americans. And in just about any other state, they can beat their chests as long and as loud as they want to.
But, unfortunately for the Cardinals, their campus is 75 mile due west of the Best Program in the History of College Basketball. As legendary Marquette coach Al McGuire put it, “They had it before you, they had it during you, they’ll have it when you’re gone.” By any statistical measure, the Kentucky program is simply better and one championship isn’t going to change that.
So, yes, Louisville won the 2013 title. Yay for them. But is this rivalry? Add a couple more NCAA Titles, then we’ll talk. As the kids like to say, you still ain’t on our level.