Circumstances for Louisville basketball are completely different today than they were 365 days ago. I suppose the overwhelming excitement for year two of the Chris Mack era has kept me from truly realizing that.
At this time a year ago this team wasn’t on any type of radar. Expectations weren’t insanely low, but they certainly weren’t high. With a new staff, unproven returning players, zero freshmen and three grad transfer from lower level programs, no one had a clue what to expect.
Fast forward 365 days later and Chris Mack has a team that is objectively believed to be one of the best in college basketball.
“I feel like there was a little more urgency last year with learning and as far as having a chip on our shoulder,” Jordan Nwora said at last week’s annual media day event. “It’s a little different this year, but guys are still working hard and competing and if we keep doing that we’ll be fine.”
Last year Louisville didn’t get a single vote in presason polls and were voted to finish 11th out of 15 ACC teams. In year two Chris Mack has a preseason top five team and a first team all american.
“We try to tune them out and not pay much attention to it,” Nwora said when asked about preseason hype. “Coach Mack says every day all that stuff doesn’t matter. We haven’t done anything yet. We haven’t achieved anything yet and we all know that. We’ve gotta prove people right and let them know that it’s real and we deserve all the hype we’re getting.”
I’m sure Chris Mack wouldn’t have it any other way, but I’d imagine the more hype his team gets the more he feels the need to remind them that nothing has been accomplished.
“It’s a two headed monster because it’s great for public perception of our program especially with the way things were viewed prior to us as a coaching staff getting here,” Mack said when asked about the preseason hype.
“We haven’t earned anything and I hope our players are well aware of that. If they’re not, they’ll have to learn it the hard way but I’m hopeful that we don’t learn the hard way moving forward.”
Anyone who claims to have predicted Louisville basketball would be in this situation in year two is likely fibbing. With that said, here we are and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Although this early success was unexpected, this is far from an unfamiliar situation for Louisville fans. This program has had high expectations for decades and expects to consistently compete with the best.<