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Mark Humphrey, Associated Press
Louisville's Angel Nunez, left, and Jared Swopshire, right, sit in the locker room after an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game against Kentucky Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans. Kentucky won 69-61.

NEW ORLEANS — Louisville coach Rick Pitino says he'll celebrate this season. He expects his unlikely Final Four squad to do the same.

The Cardinals didn't get to cut down the nets in New Orleans, but the run was surely satisfying to Pitino, who compared his group to one of his favorites, his first Final Four team in Providence in 1987.

Louisville overcame three season-ending knee injuries, a rash of concussions and eight players who missed at least one game due to injury in an up-and-down year.

The Cardinals (30-10) surged at the end — winning four times in four days to capture the Big East tournament title and then winning four more to get to the Big Easy before falling 69-61 to Kentucky on Saturday night.

Pitino believes the future is bright.