1983 Louisville Dream Game Revisited : March 26, 1983

Louisville Cardinals - 80, The team who shall remain nameless - 68
FILE PHOTO; Louisville Cardinals guard Lancaster Gordon (4)
FILE PHOTO; Louisville Cardinals guard Lancaster Gordon (4) / Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

My daughter asked me the other day if the best days of Louisville basketball are behind us. We talked about a lot of great memories and games. I told her that I surely hope there are better days ahead. This is part two of a series about “great memories and games.” This is my story of the Dream Game.

I joined the University of Louisville Band programs in the fall of 1979. I changed my college choice because of it. After a long hiatus, Governor Julian Carroll helped get the marching band up and running again. The basketball (pep) band had been around for a long time. I attended every home football game and most home basketball games through 1983.

I had a ton of pent-up emotion during the run-up to the game. There was no social media. ESPN was a four-year-old dream. The news came at 6p and 11p, from 84 WHAS (shout out to Van and Jock) or The Louisville Times/Courier Journal. The smack talk was face-to-face. I heard it from many an opposing fan in the days before the game.

The scene was set in Knoxville, which hosted a World’s Fair in 1982. A gathering of a different sort happened when almost 12,500 fans of two teams separated by 70ish miles came together. Both teams did their part to make it happen. Louisville beat Arkansas on a last-second shot and exercised a demon called U.S. Reed. The other squad dispatched Ohio easily and IU by five points. The bracket gods had persisted over an unwillingness of Rupp, Hall and company to schedule Louisville.

The tartan synthetic floor at Stokely Athletic Center felt weird as I walked across to where the band would be seated. An injured Sam Bowie stood quietly under one basket. He declined an autograph (for my Dad, a huge fan of Sam’s team). I had waited for this game and it seemed destined to happen when the brackets dropped.

Much of the first half saw Louisville behind in double digits. They shot poorly. It was nerve racking. The score was cut to seven by halftime. Melvin Turpin was killing us. Louisville switched up the press (according to multiple accounts from Coach Crum) to a denial-type press. It got the best of Turpin and teammates.

Louisville overwhelmed them in overtime. It was an unbelievable end to a back-and-forth game. Lancaster Gordon was the MOP. We won! I was excited beyond imagination during the postgame celebration. I will never forget it!

That same feeling started to return, three minutes into Coach Kelsey's introductory press conference. Color me red, for life! Go Cards!