Why Reports of Louisville's Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

K.C MynkCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2009

It appears that both in the mainstream sports media and on B/R, one of the favorite pastimes of writers has been to write an obituary of Louisville's 2009 basketball season.

In fact even this week you couldn't read a Louisville related article without the words, "Underachieving," "Overrated," or "Disappointing."

The reports of Louisville's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

For fans who follow Louisville basketball, the team's early season struggles are nothing new, as the Cardinal faithful have watched their team struggle through poor pre-conference showings in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

However, once Big East conference play starts, it's a different Louisville Cardinals team and there is a reason since 2006-07 that Louisville has won more Big East Conference regular season games than any other team in the conference.

This season is no exception, as the Cardinals have started Big East play 4-0 with wins over three ranked opponents in three straight games.

For the Cardinals, the key to their five game winning streak has been defense and a sense of team chemistry that has been growing since their late-game loss to UNLV on New Year's Eve.

Over the last five games, Louisville is holding opponents to .395 percent shooting from the outside, .397 percent shooting from the field, and forcing 18 turnovers a game.

These statistics are even more impressive when you look at some of the high scoring and hot shooting names the Cardinals have played against; Jodie Meeks, Patrick Patterson, Scottie Reynolds, Kyle McElnarny, Luke Harangody, Levance Fields, and Sam Young.

The defense is keyed by a 2-3 zone featuring the play of relentless guards Andre McGee, Edgar Sosa, and Preston Knowles, as well as a strong interior presence and the defense and rebounding of Terrence Williams.

Williams, who has spent much of his Louisville career as an enigma has stepped his game to another level over the past five contests, averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists a game while shooting 51 percent from the field.

In a conference where defense rules, the Cardinals have as many as 10 players in their rotation who can be counted on to create havoc for opposing teams.

The fact that Louisville struggled at times early in the season tells us as much about their "being overrated" as North Carolina's play in December told us about how they were an invincible force that would have a cakewalk to the National Championship.

There is a reason why the season lasts until April, and anybody who passed judgment on, or counted a Rick Pitino coached team out in December is seeing what followers of the program knew all along.

Reports of Louisville's demise have been exaggerated.