The defending national champion University of Louisville basketball team begins practice Saturday, the beginning of a new season only four weeks away.
Rick Pitino, Tom Jurich, Jim Ramsey making speeches, proclaiming how great it was to be a Louisville Cardinal, with a table full of trophies in front of them on a makeshift stage. Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva thanking the fans, saying goodbye one more time.
That was then, this is now. As fun as it has been celebrating a third national championship, watching the endless array of Internet videos, each trying to outdo each other, there comes a time to move forward.
Multiple reasons to be optimistic as a new season nears. The core of the team returns, led by All American candidate Russ Smith, a calm and confident Luke Hancock, a seasoned Chane Behanan, the monster dunking Montrelz Harrell, a trimmer Wayne Blackshear, the invulnerable Stephan Van Treese and a cupboard full of talented newcomer guards, including Anton Gill, Terry Rozier and Chris Jones.
Kevin Ware will be along shortly as well, already dunking during rehabilitation.
And speaking of mishaps, have you noticed that no UofL player was injured during summer pickup games. No torn shoulders, no high ankle sprains or ACL tears. Really unusual, at least for the UofL basketball program. So far, so good.
UofL tips off the season with an exhibition game against Kentucky Wesleyan on Oct. 29.