University of Louisville basketball fans have been here before, this very point in the early season, wondering why their team is not performing, losing to teams some would argue have no business even being on the schedule.
Some people hesitating to jump on Rick Pitino’s case, recalling similar starts in other seasons that wound up in Final Four and Elite Eight appearances. Others diving right in, believing Pitino has lost it, calling for the coach’s head.
Patience is a rare attribute among sports fans, especially when they are used to winning. What’s happening now is shocking, occurring eight months after Louisville finished No. 1 in the polls and was selected No. 1 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament.
The alleged reasons for the disappointing start abound. Take your pick:
- Loss of two first-round draft picks in the NBA draft, Terrence Williams and Earl Clark, the top scoring threats from last year’s team.
- Players again slow to comprehend the complexity of Pitino’s offense, but this time complicated by the Ralph Willard wrinkles.
- Pitino distracted by the Karen Sypher case over the summer, players losing respect for him.
- Players competing as individuals, not as a cohesive unit, more interested in upping personal stats than roleplaying.
- Players not that talented, reflecting lack of success in recruiting in recent years.
- Early season injuries … again.
Most likely the disappointing start is a combination of a number of factors. Much too early to start the blame game.Â Louisville has talented and physically-gifted players with loads of potential. Pitino will work every conceivable angle to get answers. He has been here before, absorbing the early hits, but eventually silencing and winning over the critics.