4 – An improbable Big East Championship in an “InfraRED” uniform.
The Cardinals would head into the week of the 2012 Big East basketball championship with a lot of questions. They were coming off a regular season that was as disappointing as any I can remember. Even the most loyal fans weren’t giving the Cardinals any chance of winning the tourney title. Most were expecting an early departure from New York City.
The 7th seeded Cardinals would play their first game of the 2012 Big East tourney on Wednesday night against Seton Hall. They would also unveil their new, ultra-lightweight Adidas adizero uniforms. These uniforms were designed to be 25% lighter and the shorts were supposed to increase mobility and speed. The Cardinals would put on a defensive show in their new digs lead by Peyton Siva who had 6 steals and Gorgui Dieng who had 6 blocks. The Cardinals would hold Seton Hall to 33% shooting winning the game 61-55 moving them into the quarterfinal round against Marquette on Thursday night.
The Cardinals would come out on Thursday night against #9 Marquette looking faster than usual in those flashy new uniforms. They were all over the court making the Garden look like a neon light show. They would punish the Golden eagles with their pesky defense beating them 84-71 forcing them into a season high 26 turnovers and holding the Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder to 10 points. The Cardinals would now move forward with their new found confidence to face #23 Notre Dame on Friday night in the semi-finals.
The Cardinals now looking like the team we’ve heard about all season dominated the Irish in the Semi-finals 64-50. The Irish would be held to 36% shooting and would become the sixth opponent in Louisville’s last seven games to be held to 60 points or fewer. Peyton Siva continued his flawless court performance and Dieng continued his domination in the paint as the Cardinals would advance to their third Big East title game in four years.
It would be the Louisville Cardinals facing their old foe the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Big East finals. The Bearcats would have their own magical run in the new Adidas uniforms including a win over top seeded Syracuse in the Semi-Finals. This game would be the first time that old CUSA teams would play in the finals. These teams have played 90 times before in different conferences. Defense would be the theme of the tourney for our Cardinals and it wouldn’t be any different as they would beat Cincy 50-44 in the lowest scoring game in the history of the Big East finals. Our Louisville Cardinals would win their second Big East Tournament Championship winning four games in four days. Peyton Siva continued his solid play and claimed the Big East tourney MVP. Rick Pitino would say of his teams efforts “We did a lot of really good things defensively,” “We knew it was going to take defense to win this game.” “I think you can see how excited our guys are and how much the tournament means to us.” “It’s special because I love coaching these guys. We have a very unusual group. It’s a throw back.” Peyton Siva was quoted after the game “Nobody really expected us to even get this far.” “It just feels good because a lot of people wrote us off. Coach P had a lot of faith in me. I’m very thankful for that. Everybody really showed a lot of heart today.”
Many of us did write them off, and the crow never tasted better. It made this Big East Tournament a very special moment. It truly was a magical run in those crazy looking uniforms. And that’s why the 2012 Big East Tournament is #4 in my countdown.