By Taris Smith & Matt Bradshaw —
“They may have taken away our banner, but they didn’t take away our fans,” Vince Tyra said.
These words from the athletic director’s opening speech at “Louisville Live” speaks volumes about the Cardinal fan base. From scandal after scandal to crippling NCAA sanctions, basketball fans across the city have needed a boost for quite some time.
Men’s basketball provided that boost last Friday with a pep rally that shines light on a bright future. The electric event at Fourth Street Live, unprecedented in the history of the program, marks the beginning of an era of accessibility, pure fun and (hopefully) renewed success.
“When we came here at the end of March, all we heard about were these dark clouds over the program,” head coach Chris Mack said. “As I stand here in September, things don’t look too bad.”
Along with acquiring one of the best 2019 recruiting classes in the nation, Mack has stayed busy giving fans an unfamiliar amount of access to Louisville basketball. Whether making connections on social media or around town, the new coach has already written himself into the identity of the program.
Around 7,500 people flooded downtown in a sea of red to witness Mack’s team provide a show. Mirroring events like Big Blue Madness, Louisville Live brought half-court entertainment to a whole different level.
Sophomore Jordan Nwora showed out by winning both the three-point contest and knockout.
Darius Perry stole the show with a standout performance in the dunk contest. The sophomore wore the famous No. 35 of the great Darrell Griffith and won the contest in a Donovan Mitchell Utah Jazz jersey.
From an appearance by women’s basketball, the Ladybirds, future recruits and enthusiastic fans unending, Louisville Live was the long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel.
Men’s basketball hits the court less than a month from now. All that remains is for the Cards to play their game with the city’s support behind them and the program will add to an already storied history.
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Photos by Taris Smith / The Louisville Cardinal