Take a while, absorb the fact that the both University of Louisville basketball teams are out of the NCAA tournaments.

Yes, UofL fans are on the outside looking in at Final Four time, as are 600-plus other schools. At the end of the season, only two teams go home without a loss. It’s a bummer but that’s life, with all its ups and downs.

Really makes one appreciate what Rick Pitino and Jeff Walz accomplished during the Year of the Cardinal.acc_flag_74678sma

But 2013-14 has been a great year as well, the men finishing with a 31-6 won-lost record, the women with a 34-5 mark, with both teams ranked among the nation’s top 10 programs. All those wins, so many great moments.

Going to miss players like Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Shoni Schimmel, Antonita Slaughter, Stephan Van Treese, Asia Taylor, Tim Henderson and Tia Gibbs, people who were great ambassadors for UofL sports, on and off the court. They enriched our lives as they pursued their dreams and, hopefully, they are equally successful in all of their future endeavors.

No games this weekend, which takes a little getting used to for people who think about basketball every waking hour during the season. Depressing for sure, no fun, a real bummer. Until Monday night, however, Louisville is the reigning national champion in men’s basketball, and, until Tuesday, the national runner-up in women’s basketball.

No small accomplishments, either of these feats, especially for a school competing in the twilight zone the national media perceived to be somewhere between major and mid-major status.

Dan McDonnell’s baseball team and Sandy Pearsall’s softballers are still coping with the American Athletic Conference but Louisville athletics will be entering a magnificent new era this summer — when the school becomes an official member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the five most prestigious conferences in the nation. Greatly enhanced schedules, with premium, brand name opponents, wonderful new venues, and great road trip opportunities for UofL fans.

A new window on the world for UofL, sure to attract quality athletes wanting to compete at the highest level. One must never forget UofL’s destiny at one point seemed tied to the American Athletic Conference and all that portended. Fans will miss Cincinnati, some will even miss Memphis and UConn, but not for long.

What was thought next to impossible just a few years ago has been achieved, acceptance among the dominant powers in college athletics. There is much of which to look forward as the University of Louisville prepares for the most exciting part of the journey yet. The ACC is only months ahead, folks.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “Season ends but ACC beckons, a new dawn for Louisville”
  1. Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Shoni Schimmel, Antonita Slaughter, Stephan Van Treese, Asia Taylor, Tim Henderson and Tia Gibbs….and Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng from last year! I wouldn’t trade our collective experiences with these great young infividuals EVER for a bunch of super one-an-doners, no matter the potential pay-offs.

    God speed, all!!

  2. Great article. It stings to lose in the tourney. It stings even more to lose to kentucky and then have them possibly win the NC. But all of that aside we are truly witnessing a golden age for Louisville athletics and the move to the ACC will be incredible.

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