By Marty Pulliam
Editor’s Note: Guest poster Marty Pulliam was a backup center on the University of Louisville’s first NCAA championship basketball team in 1980. Marty returned to Mercer County where he still resides today. Thanks to Marty for his thoughts on UofL’s fate on Selection Sunday:
NEWS FLASH: Louisville did not make the NCAA Tournament.
My feelings on this? Well, I wish that the Cards had played better and had more success this season. Had that happened we would be in the tournament.
It is disappointing that we did not make the tournament and it is disappointing that our “body of work” was not good enough to qualify as one of the best at-large teams that the committee uses to fill out the open spots. We didn’t and we weren’t. Simple as that.
Making the tournament just for the sake of being able to say we made the tournament means nothing to me. Making the tournament should be viewed as a reward for having an exceptional season and it should mean (for us anyway) that we are one of the legitimate contenders for the title. We did not have an exceptional season nor would we contend for the title if we did make it into the field.
As we did not have an exceptional season there is no logical reason to think that we had any reasonable chance to win the thing. I have no desire to see the Cards slip into the tournament and be matched up against a #1 or #2 seed as we know that we would have no chance of winning that game and I have no desire to see the Cards lose yet another game.
For some teams who have never or rarely ever make the field of 68, it is a big deal even though they know they stand no chance of cutting the nets down on a Monday night. These teams will celebrate the “team that made the NCAA” for years to come.
For a program like Louisville there is no cause for celebration simply because we squeaked in as a #11 seed. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but just making the tournament is not good enough. They say “you have to be in it to win it” and that is true but if I got no chance of winning it I don’t want to be in it. I want to be one of the contenders for the title not just a team that they use to fill out the first round. If I can’t be the former I would not want to be the latter.
After the success that a program like Louisville has had over the years anything less than “getting the ‘ship” is a disappointment. If we have a coach who starts practice in the fall and his goal is anything less than winning the title, we need a different coach.
If we were one of the best teams in the country and had any kind of chance to win the thing, I would be the first to say that we belonged in the tournament. Putting us in the tournament this year would be like handing out participation trophies.
As for our team and Coach Mack, give them a chance. We will be fine going forward. I am already looking forward to next year.