Big day for David Padgett, appearing in his first official game as the head basketball coach at the University of Louisville. Taking over the team at a low point, charged with keeping the program competitive. No guarantees of a permanent position.
A month-and-a-half ago, he was an assistant coach, hoping someday to get his shot at becoming a head coach somewhere. Never dreaming that he would be the guy to succeed a legend at the University of Louisville. Hoping to pay his dues, learn from the guy next to him on the bench, and hope an opportunity came along that he could not resist.
If there is enormous pressure on his shoulders, Padgett shows no physical signs. Rarely showing the emotion displayed by his predecessor. He was on his feet most of the game, camping out on the opposite side of the coach’s box. Occasionally barking instructions, seemingly relying on hand gestures to communicate with players.
Outwardly, at least, cool, calm, collected and confident.
Padgett’s first game, however, as head coach was a major challenge, with UofL trailing most of the way, owning a lead for less than 14 minutes. Trailing by six points three times early in the second half, hanging around, keeping things close. But they would emerge with a 72-61 win over George Mason before a crowd of 18,304 at the KFC Yum! Center.
Deng Adel would lead all scorers with 20 points, but UofL would need a couple of freshmen to have some outstanding debuts in order to win. Darius Perry and Jordan Nwora would each connect on three-for-three 3-point attempts, scoring 17 and 10 points, respectively.
George Mason was able to contain Anas Mahmoud, applying constant pressure, fouling him often. Mahmoud would miss the first shot on one-plus-one free throw opportunities five different times. He would hit only two of seven free throw attempts and manage only six points for the day.
Not a good game either for V. J. King who would make all five of his five points at the free throw line. Nor for Ray Spalding who would foul out of the game with only two points.
George Mason a good test for Louisville in the opening game, providing a preview of what to expect in the weeks and months ahead. No one expected the first game to be easy, few of them will be. David Padgett has taken his first step, won his first game. Creating the future one game at a time.