Either something died on the way to South Bend, or this was the long overdue letdown after all the close ones. The good news is that Notre Dame missed a lot of shots that it usually makes against Louisville.
This third trimester abortion of a team’s effort may have cost U of L any possibility of:
— Landing a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament
— Terrence Williams being named conference player of the year.
— The switch turning on for Earl Clark.
— Remaining in the top 15 in the national polls.
— Any intimidation factor for the rest of the schedule.
Was it a case of a team embracing what it had accomplished during the 10-game winning streak, thinking it had arrived when the coach was telling them otherwise, brushing the advice aside as just more Pitino talk, the coach and part-time comedian who keeps the local media in stitiches during pre-game press conferences.
Or it could have just been an aberration, one of those things that sometimes happens to good teams. Veteran fans can remember a team getting pummeled 99-59 by Xavier during the 1955-56 season but winning the rest of the its games, including what was then college basketball’s biggest prize in the post season.
But that was a long time ago, and it’s difficult to imagine anything so grand happening this season.