No bubble. No Billy Packer. No waiting around this Selection Sunday.
The Louisville Cardinals are the No. 1 team in the 2009 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Rick Pitino has returned Louisville to prominence. Doesn’t get much more prestigious than being selected as the top seed on Selection Sunday.
This was the prospect that had local television stations interrupting their regular broadcasts for live coverage of Pitino’s arrival at the Southern Indiana airport in 2001, tracking his limousine across the bridge into Louisville by helicopter, getting introduced for real to Louisville fans at the Kentucky International Center.
Pitino’s focus on success is also the reason Pitino is hated, despised by University of Kentucky fans. They know what they lost, a sure winner, an individual who knows what it takes to win, and has the ability to inspire confidence while motivating his athletes to make the sacrifices, pay the price, and overcome the obstacles that make extraordinary success imaginable, conceivable and possible.
Pitino has persevered through eight challenging seasons with all their ups and downs, the transfers, defections and NBA jumpers, early disappointing losses, and the premature expectations of fans to a season where Louisville defeated six teams in the top 25, including a No. 1 team, won the Big East Conference regular season and the Big East Tournament championship.
Pitino has more than delivered on his promise. That’s why Louisville was ecstatic when Tom Jurich hired the man. Expectations are high because Pitino would not settle for anything less.