Louisville does not lose hope despite a skid

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It’s hard to get much optimism about Louisville’s men’s basketball program right now.

After their last loss at Notre Dame last Wednesday, the Cardinals are on a six-game losing streak – their first since the 1990-91 season. Go back even further, and they’ve lost nine of their last ten games. It’s a stretch that also saw Louisville and its head coach, Chris Mack, part ways.

After a 10-4 start to the year, the Cardinals are now 11-13 for the 2021-22 season and 5-9 in Atlantic Coast Conference play after starting 4-0. . Any semblance of hope for a late-season turnaround is essentially dead in the water, and it would be hard to blame anyone on this team if they just mailed it.

Even though it seems like the program embodied the phrase “give up hope, you who walk in here”, don’t tell Mike Pegues that.

With Louisville facing its first losing season in more than two decades (2000-01 – Denny Crum’s last year), the Cardinals’ interim head coach endorses the idea that his guys are “far from give up this season.”

“As a staff, it’s ridiculous to think that anyone in our entire dressing room, in this building, has given up anything,” he said. “We believe the best is yet to come. I know that’s hard to believe for a lot of people, our fan base, the media. I can’t control what other people think. I’m just worried about these guys, our staff, and moving forward.”

At least he’s right about the last part. Louisville currently sports a ranking of 127th in the KenPom and 125th in the NET. Louisville’s chances of grabbing a general offer for the NCAA Tournament are closer to nothing than slim, leaving their only real opportunity to do the big dance by winning the ACC Tournament – ​​which already seems unlikely given that they have won a match in the last six weeks.

As Han Solo once said, “never tell me the odds”

Pegues thinks all Louisville needs is one win. He believes it will not only “revitalize this group,” but it will serve as a springboard into the aftermath and into the ACC tournament.

“All hope is not lost, even in the midst of this with this losing streak,” he said. “But a win can really open the floodgates and really make us think about March, and go to Brooklyn and do something special. But that starts with getting a win.

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Of course, that’s easier said than done, and their next match doesn’t exactly come against a pushover. Miami, which Louisville will host at the KFC! Yum Center on Wednesday is 18-7 overall and is tied for third in the ACC standings with a league record of 10-4. They are led by Kameron McGusty, an All-ACC candidate who averages 17.8 points per night.

Luckily, Louisville had some time to mentally press the reset button. When they take the word of the Yum! Center against the Canes on Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m., it will be seven days since their previous match at Notre-Dame.

With all the infighting going on over the course of the season, it allowed the members of the program to get away from it all and take their minds off things.

“I feel like this week we’ve had has been really good for us,” goaltender El Ellis said. “We had a lot of time to reflect, a lot of time to be alone in the gym, to be away from everyone and to play games. It was good to have that time. I’m in a good frame of mind right now. “

It also gave Pegues and his team a bit more time to reorganize some things before their confrontation with the Canes. He says they’ve “changed some things offensively” and will have a “different approach there”, and also had conversations about – again – shaking up the starting lineup and rotation.

“There are definitely some guys who are progressing,” Pegues said. “Some guys step up and make that decision a lot more interesting and harder for us. A lot of that will come down to training today: who can be coachable, who can go out and be productive and play hard, know their work and do their job to a high standard.”

Obviously, Louisville has a huge uphill battle to potentially break the NCAA Tournament’s 68 field. But at the very least, at least from the outside, it looks like the program has yet to throw in the towel on the season. .

(Photo by Mike Pegues, Louisville Players: Matt Stone – Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK)

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