Louisville Cardinals: The losses that define the fanbase

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21 Mar 1996: Center Tim Duncan #21 of Wake Forest drives against the defense of Beau Zach Smith #33 of Louisville during the first half of the NCAA Midwest regional game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Tim Duncan traveled

Alan Thomas (@Card_N_Al)

The stage was set for a rematch against Louisville’s in-state arch-rival Kentucky in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament, a round of the tourney the Cards had not appeared in since the 1986 Championship season. There was only one obstacle: Second-seeded Wake Forest.

Denny Crum’s squad had just knocked off a solid 3 seed Villanova squad led by 1995 Big East Player of the Year Kerry Kittles, and they rolled into the Sweet 16 matchup with a head full of steam.

Wake had a star of their own in ACC Player of the Year and First-team All-American Tim Duncan. Even though the teeter-totter of a game was never out of hand, Louisville had the Demon Deacons right where they wanted them. Then, in the final moments of the game, the sequence that scarred me for life occurred.

Trailing by two, Duncan received a pass down low with his back to the hoop. Damion Dantzler collapsed on him with tight defensive position. Duncan then spun around while curiously shuffling his feet, which wasn’t called for a walk, and to make matters worse, Dantzler was called for a ticky-tack foul (a lazy call) before Duncan got the shot off, which banked in.

The official declared that the foul was in the act of shooting much to all of our collective dismay. “That one NBA continuation play,” Crum said, referring to the shot.

Even Duncan felt like it shouldn’t have counted. “But when they counted it, I didn’t disagree,” he said.

But it did. I was born and bred a diehard Card, but this game fueled my fanhood to no end. Foul or no foul, Tim Duncan traveled beforehand anyway. I’ll die on that hill.

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