Louisville Basketball: Losing Streak Will Benefit Cardinals Come Tourney Time

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2013

January 26, 2013; Washington, DC USA;  Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino gestures form the sidelines against the Georgetown Hoyas in the second half at Verizon Center. The Hoyas won 53-51. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Louisville Cardinals need to learn to handle hype and expectations if this talented team wants to make a run in the NCAA tournament. 

This much is becoming wildly apparent as the Cardinals were hit with their third straight loss just four games after they made a brief appearance as the nation's No. 1 team. 

On Saturday, Louisville suffered the above-mentioned third straight loss when they fell to Georgetown, 53-51, in Washington D.C.

Now the Cardinals, who just over a week ago were 16-1, are now 16-4 and just 4-3 in the Big East. You better believe this was not lost on head coach Rick Pitino

Here is a postgame quote, via CBS Sports, from Pitino on his team's next game: 

We have to get this win. It's a must game for us. Because four [in a row], now you're on the verge of getting a sub-.500 record in the league, and you don't want to mess with that.

So in a staggeringly quick amount of time, the Cardinals have gone from sitting atop the college basketball world to being surrounded by a sense of urgency for just one win. 

This is going to help the Cardinals be a more complete team in the long run. Not only will this team build character by persevering through its struggles, but it will learn to play a more consistent and sustainable style of basketball. 

The Cardinals play an intense style of pressure defense. They can make it difficult just for the opposition to bring the ball up the court. That defense is not going anywhere. However, the Cardinals offense is another story. 

This is a streaky bunch who has a tendency to take terrible shots. No one personifies this more than Cardinals' leading scorer Russ Smith. 

Pitino is going with Luke Hancock over Smith in the starting lineup as he tries to get Smith into more of a point-guard mentality. 

The goal is to get Smith distributing more while taking fewer bad shots. This process is going through some growing pains, but this offense will be far better off in the long run. 

The Cardinals are a talented group, but they obviously had some big holes. It is good for them that they are being exposed now, when they have time to work on them.