COLUMN: Let the debate begin

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By John Herndon

Well now, about the only thing left for college basketball in this state is for someone suit up a team from Waddy U. just to split the difference between Kentucky and Louisville.

Two years and two champions just down the road from each other.

Maybe a team from Alton or Tyrone can join them?

Really, though, what a run for the Commonwealth the last two years and it might just continue.

Congrats to the Louisville Cardinals, a team that had the one trait all great clubs, no matter what the sport, have. It wasn't the constant pressure defense that set Louisville apart. Nor was it a highly efficient offense.

Louisville had the great camaraderie in which the Cardinals put the team ahead of the individual. Even if you are the bluest of the blue bloods, you have to admit the Cardinals were a team in every sense of the word. That camaraderie is the trademark of a great team.

Ironically, that bond in the fan bases puts a sharp divider in the Commonwealth.

Blue? Eight national titles, more wins than any other program and unparalleled tradition that rules at least 117 counties in the state.

Red? That's ancient history. The current big trophy now resides in the 'Ville.

Aren't rivalries lovely?

And now, for another 365 days, we can turn our attention to the real argument to determine if the ultimate college crown, 21st Century version, really resides inside New Circle Road or the Watterson Expressway.

One-and-done. Play-or-stay.

If you need an explanation, you aren't paying attention.

Is it better to bring in unbelievably talented freshman classes, knowing they see college not as a path to a career in business or medicine as much as a place to hone his ability to handle the rock on the way to paying for pay?

That's the Calipari way at UK. Or at least that is the rap against him.

Or is it better to play-and-stay?

Is it better to hang around college for several years to grow as a person and a bsketball player?

That is the Rick Pitino way at Louisville. Or at least it is for now. Whether it remains so will depend on what several of the Cards' returning starters really want to do.

Really, though, those neat little stereotypes so many want to slap on both programs are not completely accurate, especially if any of the Cardinals not named Peyton Siva elects to leave school and play for pay next fall.

UK doesn't win last year without 4-year player Darius Miller. Louisville doesn't win this year without sophomore Chane Behanan.

But we will play along anyway.

Louisville will certainly become the poster team for those criticizing building and rebuilding a team every year through reloading at McDonald's. Of course, focusing on this year's fiasco in Lexington alone conveniently overlooks that Kentucky won it last year, was in the Final Four two years ago and made the Elite Eight the year before.

Louisville, of course, made the Final Four last year, and got its own big trophy Monday night. And while certainly not NBA ready after one year, Siva, Behanan and Wayne Blackshear were burger boys too.

So you can try to argue one system or the other all you want. Both schools have multiple Final Fours, both have a title.

As for me, I would prefer lottery pick talent that stays four years. But that ain't gonna happen.

I just wish I can find a way to be in Rupp Arena next December when the last two championship programs have their annual Armageddon.


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