UofL BASKETBALL | A Team to Remember
03/23/2017 10:13 AM
As we get ready to watch for tonight’s Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament, one team that many from the Bluegrass root for will be missing… The Louisville Cardinals.
Of course, the Cards fell to Michigan on Sunday in the bracket’s “Round of 32,” in what felt more like a Sweet 16 or Elite Eight match-up.
With an early loss in the tournament, there are some out there who will not “remember” this team as the years continue. Some may argue that this season was not “memorable.”
For me, that is NOT the case. I will ALWAYS remember this team, because of not only what it accomplished on the court, but also because of the individuals on the roster.
As a backstory, this was my first year covering Louisville men’s basketball. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to expect heading into the season. Everything was new to me when it came to covering UofL baseketball.
I met Rick Pitino for the first time on basketball media day. I met the players for the first time on basketball media day. In fact, media day was also the first time I had even ever been inside the KFC Yum! Center.
In the first press conference of the year, Rick Pitino told us in the room that we would see that the group of Cardinals were great kids.
Initially I thought, “Sure Coach,” because that’s what every coach is likely to say on the first day of practice. Well, it turned out that Pitino was right.
The student-athletes were a blast to deal with all season long, starting on day one.
It was a team full of characters. You had the “quiet kids” (Quentin and Ray), at least on the surface, but you also had the guys with huge personalities. Yes, Jaylen Johnson, I’m looking at you.
The common theme between them all though, they were all genuine and fun to talk to.
So many specific memories stand out to me with this team.
For example, in the NCAA Tournament, Jay Henderson had control of UofL’s official Snapchat and decided to put Lyndsey Gough and I on his “story” he had created.
Another example was also during the tournament, when V.J. King took the mic from us and conducted an interview with Ryan McMahon. And I’m not going to lie, I’m now concerned V.J. will steal my job one day. He conducted a solid interview.
Donovan Mitchell and Anas Mahmoud stand out too. No matter the result after games, they would always give us great answers, and were two kids that we could talk with in between conducting interviews. I swear Donovan could be president one day the way he carries himself.
Those are just certain examples. If I wrote about each player, this article would be as long as the book “War and Peace.”
The common theme between all the players… They were each and continue to be genuine.
In the media, we try to keep a level head when covering teams, but I have to admit, this team was one that it was really easy to cheer for all season long.
And again, the accomplishments on the court were impressive, despite falling in the “Round of 32.” Going 25-9 with that brutal schedule was incredible.
To the players… Thank you for making my first experience in Louisville a great one. I will always remember and be a big fan of the 2016-2017 UofL men’s basketball team.
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