Louisville is back — and ready for a run
Rick Pitino appreciates being back in the NCAA Tournament, maybe more than ever.
One year after Louisville opted for a self-imposed postseason ban, the two-time national championship coach has his second-seeded Cardinals poised to make a potentially deep run.
If sitting out taught the Cardinals anything, it’s that they must take advantage of this opportunity.
“The difficult thing about last year was our culture as a basketball team, especially in the humility department, was changed tremendously by Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. That’s what hurts,” Pitino said Thursday in Indianapolis. “Those guys transferred to Louisville to play in the NCAA Tournament and they never got a chance to play. But they did change the culture of our basketball team becoming a very humble group.” The dings still exist, too. Louisville (24-8) gave up two scholarships this season, and is still waiting to hear from the NCAA regarding its response to alleged recruiting violations that included accusations of strippers being hired to win over highschool prospects. The NCAA has not provided a timetable. Its headquarters, just a short walk from where the Cardinals open tourney play against first-time entrant Jacksonville State (20-14) today.
The winner faces seventh-seeded Michigan or 10th-seeded Oklahoma State on Sunday in the second round of the Midwest Regional.