This was never going to be easy, thrusting a 32-year-old into the head coach’s role for University of Louisville basketball. No expectations, no aspirations, hurry up, just fill the post vacated by a Hall of Fame coach.
David Padgett had only a couple of days to think about it, never vacillating, taking the job, a shortcut to the big time. The players needed someone, wanted him. A shaky time for the team and the fan base. Much to learn, much to teach, not a lot of time.
Could wind up being the school of hard knocks for everyone concerned, as was evident in UofL’s 79-77 loss to Seton Hall before 19,244 at the KFC Yum! Center. Three starters committing four turnovers apiece, most coming at the worst possible times, and with the trio of guards managing only five assists.
A return to the days of not so long ago when Louisville struggled to have a presence in the middle. Anas Mahmoud, still a seven-foot lightweight after adding 20 pounds in four years, collecting two fouls before breaking a sweat Unable to collect a rebound, make an assist or score a point in 20 minutes.
Ray Spalding, still struggling with his awkwardness, not much of a factor in the paint or on the boards, managing two points and four rebounds, respectively. Needs to bring all that progress he was said to be making in practice on game days.
Deng Adel, looking good in the scoring column, with 20 points while making seven of 12 field goal attempts and six of six free throws. But having a hard time finding open teammates, especially with the game on the line. Possibly not trusting himself or his teammates at times, making questionable decisions, resulting in blown opportunities.
Quentin Snider, playing better at home than he did at Purdue, having one of his better games of the season. Only to have it go sour for him and be remembered for that errant jump shot in the closing seconds.
Snider would collect a scant two assists and UofL would be credited with only eight of them for the game, indicating there may be too much one-on-one action and too little passing. Not much looking for teammates or players not moving without the ball.
V. J. King still not able to stop anybody on the defensive end or find people around under the basket but contributing 14 points.
Newcomers Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton scoring 10 and 8 points, respectively, but with only one assist between them.
Padgett, meanwhile, giving his players the benefit of any doubts, suggesting they will get better. Not getting in any faces, not embarrassing anyone during timeouts, rarely raising his voice, being respectful with officials, always the gentleman for now.
He’s new, taking a different tact, relating to a new generation of players in a different way than his predecessors. Going to be interesting to see if his well-mannered approach is successful. Could be he may have to resort to some more less subtle ways of communicating if things don’t start clicking soon.
Padgett will eventually be successful. But there may be some steep learning curves. Definitely no shortcuts.