With this in mind, I think it is appropriate to create an entry about just how much I like this year's University of Louisville basketball team. This years group was projected to finish 8th in the Big East and some pre-season magazines had them as a fringe tournament team. Fast-forward to current times, and my Cards are ranked 16th in the country, with a great chance to knock off the 6th ranked Pitt Panthers in the YUM center tomorrow. The Cards have swept UCONN, beaten Syracuse, St. Johns and UNLV (among others), and came back from 18 down with 6 1/2 minutes to go and beat Marquette.
Now I'm not saying I think this year's team is going to the Final Four, but I will not put anything past them. There have been more talented U of L teams recently (2005, 2008, 2009) but none that played with as much teamwork and flair as this one. There is no superstar on the team (other than Kyle when he's in his Korner), but they epitomize what a collegiate basketball team should be. From great passing on the offensive end to an aggressive match-up zone defense, this team is built on teamwork.
"If you have handlebars, a seat, a chain and a helmet piled up on the garage floor, you don't have a bike"
- Lance Armstrong 2004
One thing I am tired of is hearing people say that this team doesn't have ANY talent. I will concede that they play above their talent level because they function so well together. But to say that this team is seriously lacking talent is asinine. Peyton Siva is an uber-athletic, pass-first true point guard. Jennings and Buckles have started banging the boards with a fervor and their 2nd chance put backs allow the team to continue to jack up 3s even if they all aren't falling. Preston is a clutch, senior leader who can score from just about anywhere on the court. Dieng is a future NBA player whose length and upside have Cardinal fans drooling. Mike Marra is a streaky gunner who is one of the most under-rated passers in the history of U of L basketball, once he gets 100% healthy his athleticism and shooting will come back. Chris Smith has been a welcome addition to this team, his energy and effort always seems to take the entire team to a different level. Bullet, Van Beast, Russ Smith and George Goode have all contributed this season and Rick knows they play just as hard as the guys who get more clock.
Now fellow Cardinal fans are thinking...how can you forget about HIM? Don't worry, he gets his own paragraph. "He" being the homecoming king and fan favorite Kyle Kuric. He assured that Freedom Hall went out in style by dropping a flurry of threes and dunks against then #1 Syracuse last year. Now he's working on making his mark in the Yum center. He laid in a great pass from Preston that completed the come-back against Marquette. He has a spot on the floor (Kuric's Korner) where he shoots 102%. He also did this:
No matter what happens from here, I can safely say its been a fun, spectacular year already. There is something very special about this years edition of the U of L Cardinals, and I suspect they have a few more surprises up their sleeve.... (just kidding, they don't really wear sleeves)