In the climax of the seminal 90s sports film D2: The Mighty Ducks, Coach Gordon Bombay (portrayed masterfully by Emilio Estevez) delivers one of the greatest pep talks in film history. Bombay converts his team of rag-tag Americans into a cohesive unit all with the phrase “Ducks Fly Together.” Using it to describe how his young hockey players aren’t just players but members of a team that represents the greatest country in the world. As the USA Ducks rally to go back on the ice, their elderly hockey adviser Jan hands them brand new jerseys. Completing the transformation and leading them to victory over Team Iceland in the gold medal game.
I’d like to imagine that Rick Pitino had a similar pep talk with the Cardinals just before their first Big East Tourney match-up. I can envision Rick Pitino waxing poetic on how the Post-Season is a completely new season and how the team can wipe the slate clean. All of this further deepened with the introduction of the brand new lightweight Adidas infrared and grey jerseys.
The team that took the court against Seton Hall was different in so many ways to the team that collapsed against Syracuse only three days earlier. During the entire tournament, The Cardinals became what so many had hoped they’d be all year: an immensely strong defensive team that could beat any team in the country.
Its gotta be the jerseys.
These lightweight jerseys actually represent everything the Cardinals have become in the past two weeks. Adidas tells us that they are more breathable than normal jerseys, and the shorts are woven to promote speed and mobility. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have beaten opponents with a quicker paced style that has caused turnovers galore. With them, Peyton Siva has gone back to darting through the lane and Russ Smith is again showcasing his talents as a pickpocket on the court.
Now the Cardinals face Michigan State University, a team very similar to the Iceland team that team USA faced in D2. They are bruising and Draymond Green is one of the best players in the country and a likely All-American. Its going to take another scrappy game from Louisville/Team USA to get the victory.
So when the Cardinals take the court in their Infrared jerseys Thursday night, Card Nation will hope that they see the same post-season Cards and not the disjointed and unreliable old ones. As the media continues to pick against them, and the analysts discount their recent success the Cardinals have to persevere.
To claim a victory they will have to remember that….
Cardinals Fly Together