The off season for University of Louisville basketball is often as intriguing as the regular season, and it appears that we’re already off and running again.
Steve Masiello leaving to take over the Manhattan College reins. No surprise here, with Masiello rapidly approaching middle age. Almost overdue.
Richard Pitino returning to Louisville as an assistant coach again, accompanied by Billy Donovan-fueled mutterings of a “coach in waiting.” In the process, Donovan perhaps eliminating himself as the person who would welcome the pressures connected with college basketball’s most profitable program.
Tim Fuller, the mysterious assistant coach with the Nike shoe strings, leaving Louisville for a similar position with Missouri of all programs, taking with him his relationships with some highly-touted recruits. Never had the feeling he was doing much coaching, just sitting on sidelines with that quiet but knowing “I have connections” look.
In the best of all worlds, David Padgett, the U of L grad with the All-American appeal, would get the job being vacated by Fuller. Padgett, the son of a coach, has the intelligence, the desire and the pedigree for the position, just a matter of when he gets started in the profession. At one point, that would have been enough but the way the recruiting world operates these days, who knows?
Speaking of recruiting, Pitino’s roster is getting a little crowded. If Kevin Ware, who originally committed, to Tennessee, decides on U of L, this will force some changes, speculation we ‘ll save for later.
Meanwhile, Pitino will be off this summer to coach the Puerto Rico national team, preparing for the 2012 Olympics. Still another diversion.
No such thing as a comfort zone for U of L basketball.
About a year ago, it seemed to dawn on Rick Pitino and Steve Masiello that the University of Louisville assistant basketball coach was ready for a head coaching job.
Unlike his first five seasons here, Masiello was being made available to the media for interviews, commenting on upcoming games, declared by Pitino to be one of the best scouting assistants he’s ever had.
Pitino’s efforts to add another branch to his coaching tree has borne fruit with Masiello being hired as the head coach at Manhattan College, were he served as an assistant from 2001-2005.
Masiello replaces Barry Rohrssen, who was fired after the Jaspers went 6-25 and were 59-85 overall in his five seasons with the school.
Pitino needs a new assistant now. Pitino hasn’t asked but the observer would go with David Padgett, who is way overqualified in his current position as assistant strength coach.
Congratulations are in order for former University of Louisville center David Padgett who achieved a couple of milestones over the last couple of weeks. First and foremost, he tied the knot with Meghan Carmicle, the love of his life, during wedding ceremonies Saturday at Sarasota, Fla. They are on their honeymoon this week. She’s also the daughter of Ron Carmicle, a close friend, associate and supporter of Rick Pitino. Secondly, Padgett was named assistant strength coach for the U of L basketball team, hopefully the first step in a long and successful career in coaching.
David Padgett refused to quit when he was playing basketball at the University of Louisville, even when he was diagnosed with a serious knee injury in the first game of his senior season. This coming on top of surgical procedures for injuries that had plagued him in previous years.
After consulting with physicians, coach Rick Pitino believed the most recent injury to be beyond serious, telling fans the injury constituted a fatal blow to Padgett’s basketball career.
“I remember the play to this day. I probably will forever. At the time I didn’t think it was that bad,” Padgett told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “When Coach (Rick) Pitino initially told me I’d fractured my kneecap and was probably done for the season, it was like a truck had run over me. It caught me so off guard. That was a pretty devastating blow because it was my last year.”
Padgett not only recovered from the injury but went on to become the anchor of a Louisville Cardinals’ team that went 27-9 and to the Elite Eight. He was the point center, the creator, the player who made the offense work.
He never made it to the NBA last year, getting cut by the Miami Heat just before training camp ended. After a year in Europe, he’s back competing for a spot on the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA Summer League. He averaged 4.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in about eight minutes of play in three summer league games.
Wouldn’t surprise many Padgett fans if he wound up making it.
A new attitude has to be permeating University of Louisville basketball practice sessions, now that the worship and adulation has been replaced by realism and disappointment. If the UofL basketball team were the stock market, a depression would have been declared.
The first clues that all was not well should have been picked up when Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa were not introduced as the starting guards. Smith apparently focused on something other than weight and basketball during the summer. Sosa had that familiar look of frustration and an inability to manage a dribble drive.
Based on Sunday’s performance, this team closely resembles last season’s team before David Padgett returned to the lineup. Samardo Samuels is playing, to be sure, but at least one opposing coach has figured out how to stop Padgett’s replacement. Other coaches will be applying the same measures to stop Samuels.
Padgett bequeathed his ability to manage the floor and find open shooters to Terrence Williams but T-will apparently left it on the bus.
Excluding Samuels with 36 minutes in the game, the other additions to the active roster accumulated only 11 minutes of playing time — Reginald Delk had five, Terrence Jennings had three, Jarod Swopshire had two, and George Goode had one.
Coach Rick Pitino’s apology is accepted. This team has to be reshaped and reinvented. The tools are available but he’s got a lot of work to do. David Padgett is not walking through that door.