The time has finally arrived.
The exhibition games, the embarrassing early-season loss, the coming back down to earth for inflated players and fans, the uncomfortably close games and run-away wins against no-chance schools.
Time for testing, time for growth, time to take the real measure of this yearâ€™s University of Louisville basketball team. The results during the early going really havenâ€™t revealed much about how the Cards will perform. What we do know is that this is a team missing the leadership skills of David Padgett, and still waiting to see who will fill the void.
Rick Pitino says he likes this team but it’s obvious he has been using the early season to find the best player combinations. The question is whether he has found a few solutions or whether questions still outnumber answers.
The Cards have gotten off to slow starts in most games, even against lesser talented teams, largely relying on superior depth to wilt the opposition. No evidence whatsoever of a team that will dominate even average teams and little indication of a killer instinct.
At least, not yet.
Time to see how quickly a group of freshmen with vast potential will mature against real competition. Thus far, the Cards have played down to the level of the competition, or even below the level in the loss to Western Kentucky.
The real season begins against Mississippi in the Big East-SEC basketball challenge at Cincinnati. Conference pride at stake, time to salvage some of it after the the Big East lost the first two games in the challenge. Not good to lose to SEC schools; they will never let you forget.
Next in quick succession come Minnesota, UAB, Las Vegas, and Kentucky.
The time has arrived.