Despite Roiling Offseason, Louisville Basketball Will Be Just Fine

Posted by Chris Hatfield on October 26th, 2017

In some respects, the dust has settled. The terminations of Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich have been made. And now Louisville Basketball moves forward in a new world. The program won’t get the “death penalty.” Putting the basketballs away for an entire season (or more) just isn’t going to happen. Forget the fact that the NCAA continues to lose moral high ground (just get some good lawyers then watch morals go out the door), and remember that it hasn’t been used for over 30 years. It ain’t happening now. Eventually, the beat will drum on, maybe sooner then some think.

The Coaches of Louisville Past and Present Commiserate (USA Today Images)

Is there a precedent for what’s occurred within the program over the last two years? Well. A precedent for strippers in dorms, Wells Fargo transfers to pay for those strippers, a National Championship banner likely being stripped, the head man claiming to have zero knowledge of anything, and the cherry on top – a pay-for-play scheme? No, there’s not much precedent for that. It’s easy to forget, but wanna know a secret? Louisville still has a pretty good team this season.

KenPom ranks the Cardinals as the 16th best team in the Country and fourth in the ACC. Valid questions will be asked about interim head coach David Padgett. How much of his style will be implemented? How much even can be? How will he react to actual game pressure? Can he even manage a game? Yet, the team’s’ talent speaks volumes. The frontcourt, led by the length of Anas Mahmoud and Ray Spalding, was rated the ninth-best in the country by Rob Dauster at NBC Sports. VJ King and Deng Adel on the wings may be one of the most underrated one-two scoring punches in the country. Even without the services of Brian Bowen, there is still a lot of talent on the roster. It’s doubtful that the NCAA will move fast enough to affect the Cards this season, and the university has expressed little interest in self-imposing again (why would it?). Expect Louisville to be a factor in ACC play as well as when March rolls around.

With respect to an NCAA punishment, there is certain intrigue, and particularly if the continued FBI investigation reveals additional schools. Now, the spotlight appears to be turning to Miami (FL) and head coach Jim Larranaga. Surely there will be more tentacles to unravel. How much punishment can you truly hand out if a virtual majority of top-flight programs are doing the things the punishments are being handed out for? Louisville will take its lumps. The NCAA may even get creative when punishing the Cards. A guarantee of scholarship reductions and at least one postseason ban is in order. Soon enough, though, they’ll be fine. How do I know this? Because Louisville Basketball is still Louisville Basketball.

The program still has top-flight facilities. The weight room to the practice gym are all high-class. That may be expected but it needs repeating. There is still a community closely tied to its basketball program, perhaps more than any other place in college basketball. There is a knowledgeable fan base with an undeniable passion for the game. For seemingly an eternity, while college basketball attendance has dipped around the country, Louisville has been one of the few constants remaining in the top three for attendance. A previous scandal didn’t change that and it’s unlikely that it would matter now. Louisville is still Louisville.

Yes, there are critical decisions that will be made — namely, making sure the new head coach who will be hired at the season’s end is the right guy. That would certainly make the Cards’ pending stay in purgatory shorter. Yet still, Louisville is still Louisville. There are few schools with a name that resonates louder. They will be fine.

Chris Hatfield (9 Posts)

Indeed, ball is life, but can we find a new expression?

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