Welcome back to the greatest sport in the land. Practices started nearly two weeks ago, so I'm a little late on this thread. But we've still got about 4 weeks until games start.
Part 1 - 2013 recap. If you want, feel free to ignore this and move on to Part 2. But otherwise indulge me for a moment as it's not every year your alma mater gets to celebrate a National Championship.
I start with post-season. The rest is just a prelude. 5OT at Notre Dame means nothing, except it was the last loss Louisville suffered, and they went on to win 16 straight.
So, highlights of the last real Big East Championship. Louisville fought back from 16 points down with 16 min left in the game to win running away with a 17-point victory and back-to-back championships. Key plays by Kevin Ware and freshman Montrezl Harrell sparked the comeback. Peyton Siva joined Patrick Ewing as the only 2-time BE Tournament MVP. Louisville chose not to cut down the nets, since they had the ones from 2012, and also because they were focused on a bigger prize.
Flash forward to the regional final against Duke. Highlights (no gore). Kevin Ware goes down with one of the most gruesome injuries seen on live TV. His teammates are in tears, save team co-captain Luke Hancock who immediately goes to his injured teammate and comforts him until the medical staff has stabilized him. The Cardinals look flustered, but then in the second half, in the words of Mike Krzyzewski, "they boom you". Louisville runs away with a 22 point victory and again chooses not to cut down the nets.
Final Four. Wichita St. Louisville down 12 with 12 minutes to go. What happens? Just like Kevin Ware predicted in his interview 4 days prior... "I think Tim Henderson will come in and hit a couple 3s". Which he did, cutting the lead to 6, and sparking another Louisville comeback. Highlights.
So, one game to win it all. Spike Albrecht comes out on fire when starter Trey Burke goes out with foul trouble in the first half. He scores 17 points (previous season high 7) while leading Michigan to a 35-23 lead. Then this happens: Luke Hancock's 4 3s in a row, plus a steal and alley-oop from Siva to Harrell, and Louisville is back in the lead in less than 3 minutes. 2nd half is close, but the Cardinals get the win, 82-76. One Shining Moment from CBS. Luke Hancock becomes the first non-starter to win MOP of the Final Four. His dad, very sick from cancer, made the trip to Atlanta for the only 2 games he saw his son play live during the year. He passed away in June. Just one of the stories about the young men on this team and how they suffered but persevered. From Peyton Siva driving a car at age 13 to track down his dad and talk him out of suicide to Luke's father, and through the Ware injury seeing the team come together... these guys have been through a lot, they are stand up young men, and pretty good basketball players to boot. Will never forget this team.
Champions again after 27 years. Whew. Here's another awesome tribute video to all 3 Louisville championship teams. And another special look at just the 2012-13 team, with many season highlights, including Chane Behanan's "Dunk of the Year" against DePaul.
And yes. Coach Pitino fulfills his promise to the team and gets a tattoo because... National Championship!
Ok... that was fun, for me anyway.