Think back a second to Phoenix last season when the University of Louisville men's basketball team won the West Region and had earned a trip to the Final Four. The celebration was epic.
The Cardinals were running and screaming all over the gym, cutting down nets, showing off for the cameras and taking photos until the wee hours of the morning.
On Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium, the Cardinals tagged Duke with an 85-63 loss and made it back to the Final Four. But the celebration was quick and subdued.
The Cardinals enjoyed the moment at the end of the game on the floor but in the locker room there were no high fives, no hugs and barely any smiles.
"As you can see, we were happy but we didn't want to celebrate a lot," senior guard Peyton Siva said. "We didn't have our brother right there with us.
"And we're not finished. "
The main reason for the low-key attitude after the game was the horrific leg injury to sophomore Kevin Ware late in the first half. He suffered a broken leg on the floor, just in front of the bench and shook up the nation.
"My stomach is still sick right now," junior center Stephan Van Treese said. "I wanted to celebrate for a minute, but not like a real ‘We're going to the Final Four-type of a celebration.' We just didn't feel right doing that."
Added freshman Montrezl Harrell: "I was torn between celebrating and feeling bad for Kevin. It was great to win that game but I wanted Kevin with us. I just wish he could have been there with us. We couldn't enjoy it as much."
The Cardinals also didn't cut down the nets.
Not long after the victory over the Blue Devils, Lucas Oil officials rushed two ladders onto the court and set them up at both baskets.
But the Cardinals never took one step towards – much less up – one of the ladders. They had already declined to cut down the nets after winning the Big East Tournament title in Madison Square Gardens.
The Cardinals have said the only nets they'll be cutting down will be in the Georgia Dome if they win the national title next week.
Pitino's team has won 14 in a row but he said the motto has been "let's not cut down the nets until the final day of play."
"It's Coach P's thing, but we're fired up about it," junior Luke Hancock said. "We've got one goal. We'll only cut one set of nets down. We've got one set (of nets) to cut down. I don't think anybody even looked that way."
The Cardinals will play Wichita State on Saturday at 6:09 p.m. in the Final Four with Michigan and Syracuse meeting in the other semifinal.
"We couldn't celebrate," center Gorgui Dieng said. "We still have our goal out there."
And the Cardinals will have Ware, who is expected to be released from the hospital today, on the sidelines with them at the Final Four.
"Kevin is going to be there with us," sophomore Wayne Blackshear said. "We're getting a shot at the Final Four two years in a row. Now, we're just going to have to grind it out and cut down those nets."