LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville coach Rick Pitino couldn't help looking back on one of the most successful eras in program history.
As he tried to digest Friday night's 74-69 Midwest Regional loss to in-state rival Kentucky, the Cardinals coach reflected on a successful run including three consecutive conference tournament titles, back-to-back Final Fours and the school's third NCAA championship last spring.
Louisville's high hopes for another semifinal appearance ended two games short, but not until the end of a long ride.
Now comes the hard part for Louisville (31-6), replacing high-scoring senior guard Russ Smith, perimeter threat Luke Hancock and reserves Stephan Van Treese and Tim Henderson. All were big factors in the run and Pitino has said replacing them will be tough -- though not as difficult as seeing the good times officially end.