It’s been over 24 hours since our beloved Louisville Cardinals lost a disappointing game. It had been so long since we have had to deal with a loss some might be taking it a bit hard. And I am just now reaching the acceptance phase of my 5 stages of Cardinal grief. What stage are you in?
-The 5 stages of Cardinal Grief
-Denial: It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.
“UNC didn’t deserve it. Lucky 3′s in the game saved them. Refs were awful. Cards played a good game; UNC won’t get those lucky home games come tournament time.”
“UNC cheats 101 worse refereed game of all time, and not even duke could get away with that many non-calls. UNC just a bunch of cheaters so sad.”
“This loss shouldn’t hurt. If there’s a guaranteed L for us on the schedule it’s an ACC team every season, but the way it went down just flat out sucks. Shouldn’t have been in this position to begin with but put ourselves there with super sloppy play; then had plenty of chances to win the game. Was ours to lose. At least we’re not Kentucky, but sheesh.”
-Anger: As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family.
“Our front court screwed us in this game. Those guys are not ready for the season. I refuse to believe that Blackshear is a competitor.”
“Seriously, though… leave it to Russ to lose this one for us. We didn’t need Russ to shoot all of the time. And what does he do the whole game. Just a guess, but I’m betting 9 out of 10 times we lose if we have a guy going off for 40 like Russ did today. Against good competition. One pass and a shot. Get everybody involved offensively by running thru the sets. He shoots. And misses. C’mon, man.”
“Coach Pitino shouldn’t have pushed Gorgui out. Don’t give the age crap. He wanted to come back. I know Mangok needs time to develop, but it will probably take him until next season. Repeating is rare and special. Unless Mangok and SVT can drastically improve, this looks like an elite 8 team.”
“That is the problem with Rick Pitino’s system. His teams need you to turn the ball over at a relatively high rate to be successful. Undoubtedly, Louisville will run into a team in the NCAA tournament that takes care of the ball, and then the Cardinals are done.”
“Play smart? Keep in mind that this is a Rick Pitino coached team. He simply can’t coach his way out of a box when it comes to strategy in the final minutes of a tight game.”
-Bargaining: The normal reaction to feelings of vulnerability is often a need to regain control.
“No, this Louisville team is not terrible, but it is a mediocre team. This team is a far cry from the overly hyped team that started the season.”
“I’m one of those people that believe in good losses, and I think this was one. All they’ve been hearing since April is how great they are, etc. Now they’ve had their asses handed to them by a lesser team and hopefully reality and tenacity set back in on them.”
“Louisville players have spent most of their careers playing helter skelter defense to try to generate offense, and you have to wonder if this new defense rule hasn’t caught up with the team.”
“This was a product of the fact that UNC simply didn’t turn the ball over enough. Louisville can only shoot a decent percentage when the opposing team turns the ball over, because obviously, this creates high percentage shots.”
-Depression: May be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods after the Cards lose. It’s usually what we feel before the reality of the situation becomes more clear.
“Sad to see that Louisville’s chance of repeating is actually not that good though.”
“I am extremely disappointed in this Louisville team.”
“Most disappointing game I have seen of Louisville in a long time. Had way too many chances to win, but that’s the way it goes.”
-Acceptance: Not everyone is capable of reaching this stage. It is that moment when you can put the entire season in perspective and realize that one loss isn’t the end of the world. It is also when you realize why the Cardinals actually lost the game.
“Calm down Card Fans. Today was our first real test and playing the Heels can only help as the season progresses. After all it’s not like we got beat by Little Sisters of the Poor. Carolina is one of the elite programs in the country and even though they may not be quite as good this year they are still Carolina. We have the top back-court in the country and a Hall of Fame coach. He will get it fixed. If we were 20 games into the season I would be concerned but we have all the pieces and I am confident that by the end of the year our Cards can play with any team in the country. Go Cards!”
“This is going to be one heck of a year in college b-ball! Who needs to wait until March it’s already crazy!!!! Congrats UNC and keep you heads up Cards fans.”
“Reminded me of how Denny Crum’s team got abused the first time he played North Carolina. He finally caught on and beat them on the way to his second title in 1986.”
“Last year Louisville had 5 losses and lost to Duke early. This year is wide open for the hottest teams come March. Should be fun.”
“A lot to learn from this game. We had way worse losses last season. Pitino is a March-Master. And he’d better work some of that magic. Time to figure out how to make the Louisville front-court be effective”
There you have it Cards fans some real examples of other members of Card Nation going through some of the same emotions as you are. And as I said at the beginning I am in the acceptance stage of my Cardinal grief. I don’t think the game yesterday will factor into the big picture of this season.
As I wrote in my post game article yesterday we need to remember that this team lost its point guard and not just a point guard but a true leader. Siva was very level headed in crunch time and the team fed off of his patience. He just had an inspirational demeanor and his team-mates benefited from that greatly. Chris Jones is going to be great but simply doesn’t have some of those on the court intangibles that Peyton had.
And after yesterday I think it is very clear that the loss of Gorgui was a huge hit for this team. The Cardinals lost a great rim protector, shot-blocker, and a presence down low that allowed the guards to take chances with the knowledge that the 7-footer could make up for their miscues. I think that once Montrezl settles into the season and Mangok gets used to his role that they will be able to make up for some of this loss, but like the situation at point guard there are just certain intangibles that these guys don’t have in comparison with Gorgui.
This is also a team that is still trying to get three key players back to a 100%. Luke missed the entire pre-season with that Achilles injury, Chane hasn’t even been practicing with the team until a few weeks ago, and Kevin Ware has made tremendous progress the past few weeks, but he’s still not what he was before the gruesome broken leg in March. I’m not trying to make excuses here folks. This is the reality of the situation and these things just can’t be ignored.
Russ Smith after the game yesterday: “I’ve been telling my friends,” “that we’re not where we were last year. Don’t expect that.”
We also saw for the first time in a long time a Louisville team who struggled to play defense. Yesterday was the result of the new rule change and I think that the guys especially Russ are struggling with the concept a bit. This too shall pass and the more floor and game-time that these guys log the more comfortable they will get with the new rules. Coach Pitino has made adjustments to his coaching style for years and if there’s anybody in the country I would have faith in to make these defensive adjustments its him.
Every loss our Cards have is very tough to deal with but when you go through your Cardinal stages of grief you can understand and accept that those losses eventually mean nothing. All that matters is how you perform under the bright lights of March. This team has proved the last two seasons that they could do that very well. And there’s really no reason to believe they can’t do it again this season.