No Better Ending for O'Bannon

Louisville native Larry O'Bannon, an important peice in Rick Pitino's early rebuilding efforts, had a Hollywood performance on Senior Night.

It was a night that most young boys dream of. It's a dream that is played out in the mind many times while shooting basketball in the driveway. A dream where the imaginary crowd roars with your every move.

On Thursday evening in Freedom Hall, senior Larry O'Bannon lived such a dream.

On a night where the seniors were honored prior to the game, O'Bannon put together a performance that will forever remain fresh in the minds of not only he and his family, but also with the 20,068 in attendance.

The Male High School graduate produced the best first half offensive output in U of L history by scoring 26 during the first 30 minutes of action. He drained 9 of 10 shot attempts, including 5 of 5 from beyond the three-point arc.

O'Bannon's 26 first half points surpassed a record that had held since Everick Sullivan poured in 21 against Chaminade in 1989. Junior Bridgeman, who recommended that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino offer O'Bannon a scholarship, also held the mark, when he scored 21 points versus Rutgers in 1975.

However, it has taken four long years for the Louisville native to reach this point. After receiving a scholarship from Louisville, one that according to Pitino was extended because of his character and not his abilities, O'Bannon began a transformation.

For three years, Louisville fans have heard how O'Bannon wasn't aggressive enough. He didn't attack the basket. That all changed this year, as O'Bannon attacks the basket better than anyone on the squad.

"Larry came in and he struggled a little bit with coach," said Ellis Myles. "Coach didn't think he was physical enough. This is a great note for Larry to go out on."

That note started immediately after tip as O'Bannon drained two straight three-pointers.

"When I hit my first couple of three's, they definately started looking for me," said O'Bannon of his teammates. "Ellis was looking for me on the backdoor, Taquan was looking for me and Fransico gave me a couple. My teammates are so unselfish."

By the end of the first half, O'Bannon had scored 26, half of the teams 52 total points. The second half brought continual chants of "Larry, Larry!" It appeared that O'Bannon couldn't stop smiling.

"It sends chills through your body. To have the fans chant your name like, 20,000 cheering your name on senior night...you can't beat that."

In the locker room following the game, his teammates couldn't stop giving praise about his story book performance.

"Larry played great, but he can shoot better than that," said Francisco Garcia. "He's a great shooter."

Garcia, who has had a few nights where he has been in 'the zone,' couldn't describe how it feels when you reach the point of near perfection on the court.

"You just feel like you can't miss," Garcia explained. "It's a great feeling, butI can't even explain how it feels when you are like that. Everything slows down and you can see things happen before they happen."

"Larry was a big part of our success tonight," said Pitino. "He was brilliant in all phases of the game and it really is a Hollywood ending for a very special man"

For O'Bannon, it was a dream come true.

"I couldn't have asked for nothing better. I couldn't ask for a better ending."


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