8 – A Number One Goes down in front of 5th largest crowd….
After struggling in the early part of the season in 2009 the Cardinals got on a roll winning 4 straight including the big win a few weeks earlier over in state rival UK. But they still had some work to do to prove that their lofty preseason ranking of #3 in the country was not a misprint. The Cards would have their chance to do just that on January 17, 2009 in front of 20,082 fans when Big East rival Pitt visited the Hall. The Panthers had gotten to the #1 spot in the polls for the first time in the school’s history after a 16-0 start to their season.
The game started in favor of the #1 Panthers as they were living up to their ranking and held control of the game for most of the first and second half. With 8:48 left in the game they seen their lead evaporate. Big shots by Earl Clark, T-Will, and Preston Knowles pulled the Cardinals within one. Then a monster dunk by Samardo Samuels tied the game at 58 all. The Cards would eventually take the lead for good and win the game 69- 63 as the Panthers had no answer for the pressure defense. They would have a season high 20 turnovers for the game.
The rivalry with Pitt has become one of the most compelling in the Big East since joining the conference. And it was great watching the Cardinals beat them and Knock them off their lofty perch. That alone would have made this a pick for a top 10 moment in the last 5 years but the fact that this was the first win over a #1 team since 2003 made it a lock for number 8 in my countdown.
It’s been great reading all of the headlines for the last couple of days especially when they read as follows: “Louisville basketball tops UK, nation in ‘intrinsic value’ calculation,” “Cardinals most valuable in college hoops,” and my personal favorite “The nations most valuable program ( isn’t Kentucky).”
In one of the articles the writer talks about how we were beat on the court, but have the last laugh. I didn’t laugh but I sure do get a chuckle out of being the most valuable basketball program in the state of Kentucky.
9 – The Shot heard around the Bluegrass State
It was early into the 2008-2009 Basketball season and the preseason #3 Cardinals had dropped to #18 in the rankings after suffering 3 losses including a huge upset by instate Western Kentucky. After being dubbed one of the biggest early season disappointments it was looking like a season that could possibly be spinning out of control. Especially when Rick Pitino issued a press release that he had told his junior point guard Edgar Sosa to transfer. Sosa told Pitino that he just needed one last chance to make things right.
On January 4th 2009 big blue nation rolled into town and he would get that chance. And he would make the best of it. UK had some troubles of their own as new coach Billy Gillispie was struggling to win over the fans in Lexington. This would be his first trip to Louisville and would turn out to be his last.
The Cards took control of this game early and seemed to have the game won at 71-64 before the wheels came off. Two careless turnovers by Earl Clark and a scoring furry by UK’s Jodie Meeks led to a tie game at 71 with 23 seconds left on the clock. You could hear a pin drop in Freedom Hall as the Cardinals inbounded the ball to Edgar Sosa. Sosa dribble down across the half court line and with 2.8 seconds left heaved up a 24 foot shot that was good all the way. The roof came off of the Hall as time expired on the Cats to give UofL the win 74-71, and give them their first home win over UK since 2002.
After scoring 18 points and hitting the biggest shot of his life Sosa was quoted saying “I know that I can play this game and I know of the things I’m capable of doing on the court.” After going from zero to hero on Coach Pitinos list he was quoted as saying “I am really happy for Edgar because it’s been very difficult on him and he got an opportunity to be a hero, which he was.”
Any time my Cards beat the Cats it’s a great moment. But it’s really special when the game summary looks like the ending to a Hollywood Production. And that’s why this one is ranked #9 in my countdown.
10 – COLLEGE GAMEDAY, WHITE-OUT, 4th LARGEST CROWD AT THE HALL.
Saturday February 9th 2008 the Cards beat #6 Georgetown 59-51 in front of a crowd of 20,083. It was the fourth largest crowd to ever watch a game at Freedom Hall. College Gameday was in the house, and Rick broke out the white suit for the first time. He started sweating through it, and had to change at the half.
It was a different suit, and a different team after the half. The defense locked down and one of my favorite UofL players David Padgett had a season high 18 points in a breakout game. It was great seeing him have such a great game after suffering from a knee injury. Padgett said of the game “This is the best win I’ve ever experienced as a player.”
The Hall was unreal with everyone decked out in their white. Coach Pitino said after the game “This is a great win for us. Tonight’s crowd was as good a crowd as I’ve seen.”
It was a great game and a great crowd. That’s why it ranks number 10 in my countdown.
The Cardinal’s Beak: Turning passion into purpose
Hello folks I’ve decided to turn my passion for my Louisville Cardinals into a purpose. The Cardinal’s Beak has been in the thought process for a long time, but the intimidation of putting my thoughts into words have delayed me from actually doing it. I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a go. I hope my fellow Cardinal fans find my opinions to be entertaining, and hope to help spread the word about the greatest athletic program in the country.