It’s been a banner year for Louisville
by Rachel George, USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA – Tom Jurich had little time to reflect. The Louisville athletics director had about 30 minutes Sunday afternoon to catch another flight to another basketball game, a frequent occurrence over the past month.
With the Cardinals men’s and women’s teams in the Final Four, Jurich was happily shuttling between Atlanta and New Orleans over the weekend.
Combine that with a Bowl Championship Series bowl win, and this might be a golden year in Louisville athletics history.
“It’s just been nonstop,” Jurich said. “Certainly nobody every takes anything for granted. It’s a very special time.”
The past four months have brought success in Louisville’s biggest programs, with the chance for more. In football, the Cardinals trounced then-No. 4 Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
The women’s basketball team, a No. 5 seed, advanced to the program’s second Final Four, knocking off defending champ Baylor, the top overall seed, in the Sweet 16 and No. 2 seed Tennessee in the Elite Eight.
Sunday, Jurich left the men’s site for the women’s national semifinal game vs. California in New Orleans, where the Cardinals rallied for a 64-57 win and will face Connecticut or Notre Dame for the title Tuesday.
He’ll return to Atlanta for today’s men’s title game. The Louisville men’s school-record 34th win came Saturday in the semifinals at the Georgia Dome as the Cardinals beat Wichita State to advance to their third NCAA championship game.
It has made for a fun few months at Louisville.
“Just lucky. There is talent, but there is luck in there too,” center Gorgui Dieng said. “I’m sure we deserve it. You deserve everything you have if you just do everything the right way.”
Dieng said he hasn’t missed a women’s home game when the men’s team wasn’t on the road. According to coach Rick Pitino, that kind of support isn’t rare.
“(Guard) Russ Smith took off all his clothes — except his underpants, of course — and painted his body red for a women’s soccer game in the cold,” Pitino said. “That’s what these guys are about. … It’s a pretty cool school.”
Louisville’s bottom line stands to benefit, however modestly, from the postseason success. While schools … [For more on It's been a banner year for Louisville, click here.]