This team won the title on the same day Rick Pitino was announced as a member of the latest Hall of Fame class, following his horse won a big race on the way to the Kentucky Derby a few days ago, and after his son became a top coach at Minnesota.
As The Huffington Post reports, this was the best feeling of all as The Louisville Cardinals (35-5) lived up to their billing as the top overall seed in the tournament, though they sure had done great work for it.
Louisville were chasing Wichita State by a dozen in the second half of the semifinals, before rallying for a 72-68 victory. This time, they fell behind by 12 in the first half, though a stunning spurt at the end of the period wiped out the entire deficit, Time claims.
“I had the 13 toughest guys I’ve ever coached,” said Pitino, who intends to follow through on a promise he made to his team if they won the title — by getting a tattoo.
“No one was tougher than Hancock, was matched his season high and named the most outstanding player,” CBS News claims.
“Coming off a 20-point effort in the semifinal victory over Wichita State, he came off the bench to hit four straight 3-pointers after Michigan got a boost from an even more unlikely player.”
“Freshman Spike Albrecht made four straight from beyond the arc, too, blowing by his career high before the break with 17 points. Coming in, Albrecht was averaging 1.8 points a game and had not scored more than seven all season,” the publication adds.
Albrecht wasn’t the most useful player during the second half of the game, but Hancock finished what he started for Louisville. He buried another 3 from the corner with 3:20 remaining to give the team their biggest lead, 76-66.
While the coach shrugged off any attempt to make this about him, but there was no doubt the team intended to take home a national title for someone else — injured guard Kevin Ware.
CBSSports.com College Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman notes that Pitino’s life hasn’t been easy in recent years.
“Pitino’s marriage nearly fell apart five years ago after he admitted to having sexual relations with another woman and it played out in front of the country, even the world, in the media,” Goodman writes.
“There were jokes, there was humiliation. His career seemed over a couple years ago when he was getting annihilated on the court and in recruiting circles by the guy who he couldn’t stand, Kentucky’s John Calipari.”
“But here he was, hugging and kissing his bride of more than 35 years, in a scene that didn’t look improbable not all that long ago. It looked virtually impossible. There he was, sitting on the podium exactly one year after Calipari won his first title,” the blogger added.