Kenny Payne is making zero progress in making University of Louisville basketball program competitive again (Mike DeZarn photo).

Kenny Payne milking University of Louisville?

By Steve Springer

Recent comments and actions from University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Coach Kenny Payne have begrudgingly forced me to come face-to-face with questions that I had lingering in the back of my mind when he was hired, but never thought could be possible, much less actually come to fruition.

Is Kenny Payne milking the University of Louisville?

In March of 1986, I vividly remember sneakily picking up the old rotary phone in a bedroom to anxiously eavesdrop as my mother called my Fern Creek Elementary fifth-grade teacher, as she either preemptively asked for permission or forgiveness (I forget which), for my parents taking me out of school to go to Dallas to watch UofL play in the Final Four. There was a possibility, in my 9-year-old mind, that Mrs. Osterman would veto the absence and I would be relegated to watch my beloved Cardinals on television while my parents lived it out in person.

Mrs. Osterman obliged, however, and one of my favorite lifetime memories was inscribed in my brain as I watched the final seconds of the clock in Reunion Arena tick off in Dallas. I found myself elated and hugging strangers in the upper deck of the arena as Kenny Payne embraced his teammates down below on the hardwood, fresh off a triumphant 72-69 defeat of the Duke Blue Devils for the 1986 National Championship. The 6-foot-8 freshman forward from Laurel, Miss., didn’t score in the game, but found himself a national champion anyway.

Fast-forward 36 years later and Payne finds himself as the head shot-caller for his alma mater, riding on a wave of expectations that were founded on him being connected to the movers and shakers of the college recruiting landscape. This groundswell of promise was rooted in his earlier assistant coaching stops at the University of Oregon (aka Nike U) and in Lexington, where Payne was a fundamental part in grabbing some of the best recruits every single year and supposedly being a “big-man whisperer”. Year after year, Payne seemed to be the guy with all the connections, through Nike and recruiting power-broker William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, that orchestrated top-ten classes and future NBA All-Star rosters on a college sideline. Before Name Image Likeness (NIL) took over the business, ethics of his tactics were questioned by every fan base not grounded in Lexington.

When the head coaching vacancy reared in Louisville, the very short list of rumored candidates had really only one name that actually had a chance this time around, Kenneth Victor Payne.

Being an assistant for the NBA’s New York Knicks at the time, some sources say the Payne had to be talked into taking the Cardinals gig, as he was on the fence about whether or not he wanted to take on the role, being 55 years old at the time. That’s a mesozoric-aged beginning for a head coach. One would be right to question the desire to actually be a head coach of a person with the resume of Payne having made it that deep into a coaching career and never sitting in the first chair.

But here we are, with UofL now sitting 2-13 at the beginning of 2023, a worst-case scenario that most of the fan base would have never dreamed possible. So, it begs the aforementioned questions:

Would he be able to come to town on fire to fix the plethora of problems in the basketball program?

No. He took weeks to even get to Louisville. He took even longer to get his staff hired and on the ground.

Would he hire a top-notch staff to compensate and supplement his lack of experience as the head man?

No. At first, the hires on paper looked legit. As the season has gone by and things have leaked out about practices being horrendous and players looking like they’ve actually regressed, this looks like a failure as well.

Would the best recruits flock to Kenny Payne?

No. Without turning into a whole recruiting-failure article in itself, the short answer is no. The headliner and one of the biggest draws for hiring Payne was the connection he has/had with top recruit DeJuan Wagner and that hope has since been flushed, along with others. As of today, there is not much recruiting light at the end of that tunnel either.

Would he use NIL to its potential as a sleeping-giant for UofL?

No. With his earlier in the season comments on his recruiting philosophy and how it pertains to NIL, this seems like a disaster of a public relations comment to make. His own words, “Yeah, I have NIL money, but you’re not going to come to this university because of that. I have something that’s more special than NIL” were out of touch for what was needed on the recruiting front.

Would he use the transfer portal as the tremendous tool it can be to immediately bolster the roster?

No. Yet another turnover here, as several key names seemed to be in Louisville’s grasp early, then slipped away at decision time.

Would whatever team did show up for the season look inspired and in shape?

No. The evidence is on the court for the world to see, as numerous videos abound of players jogging back, not hustling for loose balls, giving up in the middle of plays, and the list goes on.

Did Kenny Payne win those games?

No. Sorry Eric Wood, we love you greatly, but it looks like you were wrong this time. His inebriated, viral trolling suggested that Kentucky’s success over all these years could actually be attributed to Payne’s coaching expertise funneling through John Calipari, leading to a multitude of high draft picks and a national championship? In hindsight, it’s looking more and more like Phil Knight won those games.

Louisville’s Kenny Payne feeling no pain, yucking it up with John Calipari despite being blown out by his program’s arch rival.

Would he have the fire that is needed for the in-state rivalry?

Big time no. As the final seconds ticked off in Rupp last weekend, the main reason I tuned into that dumpster fire of a game, was to see how Payne would handle the handshake line with Calipari after the inevitable drubbing that was coming. Payne came very close to making out with the same coach that left his starters in up over 20 points at the end of the game. Double high-fives, laughing, ear-to-ear smiles, laughing, bro hugs all around. Not what an aching fan base needed to see in that moment. If you’re that close with the guy that kept the National Player of the Year in to beat you senseless in embarrassing fashion, at least meet up for dinner afterwards somewhere off-camera away from the national television audience and the multiverse to see.

Now for the big one.

Is Kenny Payne milking UofL?

Remains to be seen. But the further this failed experiment drags on and how Payne handles what seems to be inevitably coming down the pike, either this season or God forbid the next, the more and more evidence piles up for that conclusion.

Taking the job and coaching a season ensured millions in his bank account. Coaching a whole season, with what looks to be sum-optimal effort and tanking, ensured those same millions. Repeating that same performance for another year ensures even more millions. At any point, if he has to be forcefully removed, yet more millions.

Does Payne have the self-awareness to realize all this? Is he content with smiling and “coaching” as long as Athletic Director Josh Heird will let him? When he turns around in the YUM! Center and sees empty seats and opposing school colors outnumbering warm bodies wearing red and black? Was the vomitously warm, welcoming ovation at Rupp Arena for a Cardinal coach loud enough for him to hear the hidden message in its meaning?

I am what could be called a “true Louisville fan.” I’ve been a fan consciously since I was four years old in 1979. I was here before him and here while he was in Lexington. I’m still here while we’re 2-13. I’ll be here after he’s gone whenever that is.

When Payne says, “I want true Louisville fans … I want fans to understand the reality of the situation,” I’m not sure he is not the one with a grasp on the reality of the situation, or that some of us might be warming up to the idea that maybe he might be using the gig as a security blanket into retirement.

I was completely on the fence as to whether or not to even write this lamentation, but the theatrics at midcourt Saturday pushed me off the proverbial fence. Until Saturday, I was in the camp of this year absolutely was a disaster, but let’s see what he does in the offseason without the IARP cloud hampering things, but the signs and body of evidence is there, however the fire and the hunger in his attitude are not.

Love for the University of Louisville and its rightful place in the highest echelon of college basketball should be pushing Kenny Payne off of the fence on to the side of doing the right thing and walking away at the end of the season — not intentionally or unintentionally milking the school any longer.

 

 

 

 

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Steve Springer

Steve Springer is a lifelong University of Louisville fan and was Volvo's "Biggest Fan of the Big East" in 2011. He's a sportswriter for the Murray Ledger & Times, in addition to teaching physical education. He graduated from Eastern High School, earned a Master's degree from the University of Louisville and his BS degree at Murray State University. His Twitter handle is @racercard.

100 thoughts on “Kenny Payne milking University of Louisville?

  • January 2, 2023 at 7:03 pm
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    Steve… you make some valid points, Payne may or may not be the correct choice. You have to give him time. He asked for patience. I’ll give this more thought and insight during the coming weeks. He MUST out recruit ACC teams, Kentucky and other top 20 programs. If he doesn’t, I have no idea what might’ happen. The Athletic Department funds are thin.

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    • January 3, 2023 at 11:11 am
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      Basketball funds will be zero if this is allowed to continue. UofL has to resolve this situation soon.

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      • January 4, 2023 at 3:40 pm
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        Fire this guy, I was a cardinal fan since the 70s and after pitino got fired and they striped our titles,I just quit watching ncaa games it’s always the same teams winning the title, and after they killed my favorite player in the NBA ( MR KOBE Bryant I quit watching everything even football I focus myself more on what’s going on around the world and what’s going on with the Earth than to sit on the couch and watch 2 hours of wasted time for me of course for others it might be better but there’s more going on and we all need that time where we can just sit back and not think about the end times but we need to focus on this Earth and what China and the world economics form and the whole country Switzerland needs to be wiped off the map that’s where all this is coming from and harp sorry to be on a tangent but there’s more to life than basketball now Louisville’s never going to get better but I still love Louisville but I will never watch another game or NBA game they killed Kobe and then all of a sudden LeBron James is the hero come on put two and two together and wake up

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    • January 3, 2023 at 2:44 pm
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      Making out at mid court with calipari was a Cardinal sin. He should have been fired on the spot.

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      • January 4, 2023 at 10:53 am
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        The U of L alum (known as Jeff Brohm) heading up your football program will have the same results…..He preached doing the right thing while at Purdue. If robbing the program of its integrity is the right thing to do, then you have your man….her is to Louisville finishing in the lower half of the ACC for years to come.

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        • January 4, 2023 at 1:24 pm
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          What the hell are you talking about? The football and basketball situation are apples and oranges

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        • January 29, 2023 at 2:21 pm
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          I believe Kenny is n over his head. I believe he is not getting much from his staff, particularly the strength and conditioning staff. Seems like Kenny being a roll player his years here .
          playing, translates n2 the same n his coaching, mediocre player, less than that as a coach.

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    • January 3, 2023 at 3:26 pm
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      Steve, I hate losing & sitting thru the games. But, I am. I believe Smith & Manning were hired within a month. Not a knee jerk reaction. Didnt think we’d only have 2 wins at this point but thats it. I hope Kenny’s skin is real thick. I’m sick of reading all the negs from our fans & betting he is too. I hope there’s enough of our fans who will support Kenny & realize this year is tougher than we thought it would be. Give this staff a chance to develop our program & get back to the top. Milking Louisville? Come on man.

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      • January 4, 2023 at 2:58 pm
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        I’m not implying he’s going full tin-hat “Cal & Nike sent him here to destroy UofL” type scenario like I’ve seen some people insinuate. Thus the “?” at the end of the question.

        If all of this mess is a perfect storm of the recent past, the cloud, inherited roster, what he did when he eventually got here and got everybody hired, terrible in-game coaching, players regressing and far too often not giving 100%, blatant roster mismanagement, beyond abysmal record, putrid salutations with Calipari, PR blunders, etc the list goes on and on, then he should see that he is doing a disservice to my alma mater and his.

        The milking part comes in (if true) if he knows he’s not cut out for this, doesn’t treat the job as it should be treated and just decides to keep plugging along anyway as long as Josh will let him stay, getting millions and millions for this and each subsequent season.

        I sincerely hope I’m wrong. And the only way I see that being the case is if the team turmoil was as bad as we were led to believe, if the cloud had as much or more impact as we were led to believe, and he just needs time to learn on the job (which is a problem itself).

        I really was on the fence for giving him another year, he’ll probably still get that right or wrong, until Saturday’s postgame. I want a coach to hate losing, especially to 64 East.

        I will be the first person to write a glowing article full of repentance and crow if he turns things around. But that seems like a long long longshot. He has to somehow slavage a recruiting class that’s about wrapped up, kill it with the portal (and that seems grim for now because of last summer) but could perk up at the end of the season, and develop and show some friggin’ fire in his belly.

        Like I said, he doesn’t have the lifetime Cardinal blood flowing through his veins like many of us. Yes, he sacrificed a lot of sweat from 86-89, but that’s now going on almost 35-40 years ago. Since then, he spent over twice that in Lexington, and more time in other places.

        I really, really hope that I’m wrong. He either turns it around with tangible results that show promise relatively soon, or steps aside at the end of the season. He can’t just putt along at this pace with comparable results for the forseeable future. If that’s the case, to me that’s “milking” UofL.

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      • January 4, 2023 at 3:17 pm
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        I agree with David…and Kenny’s skin is thick.

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      • January 29, 2023 at 2:33 pm
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        I believe Kenny is n over his head. I believe he is not getting much from his staff, particularly the strength and conditioning staff. Seems like Kenny being a roll player his years here .
        playing, translates n2 the same n his coaching, mediocre player, less than that as a coach.

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    • January 3, 2023 at 4:38 pm
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      As a Kentucky fan, you’re welcome to send him back. He and Calipari have been together for a long time and no one has ever talked Kenny Payne up as much as Cal. From what I saw in the game, alot of your guys lack fundamentals. They have talents, but miss on general skills. I honestly don’t follow Cardinal ball, but I assumed that most of the recruits were already here before Kenny came. If so, then he has to play the cards he’s dealt.

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      • January 5, 2023 at 8:08 am
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        Yes, missing fundamentals, effort, desire—-it’s called coaching.
        Won’t move and hustle on defense, work to blockout and rebound, pass and share the ball—-it’s called coaching.
        And Kenny Payne looks as drab and boring as his players—-would love to see him dress the part, like he actually cares.

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        • January 5, 2023 at 9:16 am
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          It’s not all because of coaching. The players have at least a few years of playing basketball before coming to Louisville, so they should know how to play fundamental basketball. You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink. I’m sure next year will be much better. I’m in it for the long hog and wish Payne all the luck!!!!

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    • January 3, 2023 at 5:24 pm
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      This article is ill timed. Kenny is in no way milking Louisville. He was just a bad hire at a great school. Can you imagine promoting a sergeant to a 5 star General and asking him to lead in WWIII? He’s a great guy but not that smart. Smith is probably the smartest staff member.

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      • January 4, 2023 at 1:16 pm
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        You are just a smart mouth person who will never make it to his level. So keep sideline communication to the internet. See how that works out for you and your contract in the NCAA COACHING WORLD ? LOL ?

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      • January 4, 2023 at 6:22 pm
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        When the marriage isn’t right from the get go, it isn’t going to work even when time flies by.
        Talents are there, coaching isn’t. Under HoF Petino, this exact same talent would generate 14-1 record. Under Mack, this still would be 10+ win. But, we chased them away. And now we celebrate the rock bottom mediocrity, with “give some more time”…
        What do Card Nation think to get, better than legendary Petino, or Mack? It was gift from heaven, when Petino came to Louisville. Jurich made Louisville Sports the national discussion. But now, Louisville belongs in the FCS league discussion.
        The best memories are when Jurich, Petino, Petrino led the way. Rest of other sports became part of the wave.
        It wasn’t their fault, when Grad assistant introduced prostitutes. Bad choice of giving grad assistant, a chance to succeed in Life. Dude messed up. It wasn’t Petino fault that player showed up to play for Louisville.
        NCAA looks the other way on Nike’s (American company) sponsored schools. But when Addidas (German comp) wants to create competition, they squash them. Worst and criminal act was done by NC Tarheels. Giving A’s for signing up for class to make players academic eligible. NCAA was not able to punish them. But NCAA wants to punish Louisville of which Grad Asst accomodating small hooker party. What is worse? Falsified grades or ugly hooker encounterment.

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        • January 5, 2023 at 8:54 am
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          Bull crap. Jurich and Petino (with help from former university president that should be in jail) are the ones who milked the university.
          If Jurich had been loyal to the school instead of people and fired Petino when his nasty, tawdry scandal first became public, he could have saved the school all the suffering (and a lot of money) and embarrassment that followed.
          Petino was paid, paid well, to coach AND monitor the basketball program, to be an exemplary employee and an ambassador for the university. HE FAILED. It is sad that he lacked the character to own up to it.
          Under Jurich, the UofL athletic department truly was a good ole boy’s club, and they are still suffering mightily for it.

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        • January 7, 2023 at 5:31 pm
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          Johan . I agree with everything you said except for the Chris Mack era . His best seasons were with Pitino’s players .

          Again I grew with everything you said except for that . Thanks for making great points .

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        • January 7, 2023 at 5:33 pm
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          Oh and Louisville will be back . KP will fix the program . The program didn’t get this bad overnight so you can’t expect him to fix it overnight.

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    • January 4, 2023 at 5:25 pm
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      I’m 64 and a season ticket holder and a life long fan. I see a coach begging players to hustle. I see a coach play his son (senior) while a four star freshman sits on the bench. I also see him laughing and enjoying himself after games that we’ve loss because he can’t coach, motivate or teach college basketball players to run plays or play defense for over 10 seconds. What was once an elite program is now the home coming game for every team we play. Louisville fans are among the most loyal and committed fan base in the country. We need a coach that is furious about losing and not making excuses. Resign Mr Payne and end our misery.

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    • January 4, 2023 at 8:59 pm
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      Im a basketball fan of this great state.A die hard Louisville fan.I knew Chris Mack was not the right coach.When you come to Louisville which have alot of traditional with final 4 championships.I remember at one of Mack media conferences he said my defense will be Virginia pack line defense ?. Wrong coach. Why don’t you write a nice article on how Rick .P and Jurich were Exonerated. How about writing something that says the University level board of trustees governing bodies or whoever they are let the universal Louisville cardinals down let the fans down and let the players down. So how about Writing something like that .

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        • January 7, 2023 at 5:14 pm
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          Steve I honestly believe you are absolutely clueless. Kenny Payne has one of the strongest coaching staffs in College Basketball. It is obvious from
          Your moronic article that Kenny is milking the school is just that moronic. You claim to be a Cardinal fan because you have watched them since 79. Did not know that’s when the Louisville program started. What do you know about Danny Manning obviously nothing. Nolan Sloan was one of 2 of Coach K’s assistants. I guess you are too arrogant to have ever heard of Coach K or Larry Brown. Is Louisville good no it’s not bad coaching if you knew anything about the game. No team can win that consistently turns ball over because of poor play. They also cannot win shooting 30%. If you knew any thing about Cardinal History you would know that Denny took Dromo’s team to the Final 4 in his second year and didn’t make it back until 1975 and didn’t win a championship until Darrel was there. Complain about recruiting why is Milt Wagner on staff with his grandson going to UK. This is the second time he has done this to Louisville. I love Denny but what did he accomplish in his last 15 years. You may want to do a little research and discover why Shaq wasn’t a Cardinal. Basically you are whining and looking for an excuse to be a BIg Blue fan. Go don’t want you here.

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    • January 5, 2023 at 9:11 am
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      If you don’t like it, go cheer for another team. Kentucky could be your 1st choice. To say Payne is milking the University is a harse statement. We don’t have a legitimate point guard and we had NCAA investigation hanging over our head as reason for not getting good players. I’m a Louisville resident, alumni, football and basketball season ticket holder and a Die Hard Louisville Fan and I don’t feel you one bit.

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      • January 5, 2023 at 12:37 pm
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        I didn’t say he is, just posed the question, thus the ? at the end if the title and used the prase “remains to be seen.”

        If he lets this ineptitude carry on for multiple seasons then yes, he is. In that scenario, he didn’t fix anything/made things worse and wasn’t self-aware enough or love UofL enough to resign.

        If he finds some hidden recruiting gems somewhere, strikes gold in the portal and things look significantly better next year, then he’s not.

        Like I said, remains to be seen. But I know which way it seems to be trending, in my opinion.

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      • January 9, 2023 at 9:26 am
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        I’m with you also, I don’t see why whoever he is who wrote this article is saying what he’s saying about milking the university. We was in a bad place when Petino left us and Mack didn’t do much justice when he came. Payne needs time and is game to get behind him to make the university great again. Keep up the good work Kenny!!! L1C4

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        • January 9, 2023 at 9:39 am
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          You had me thinking decent take until the end. Gave yourself away with the last sentence.

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  • January 2, 2023 at 10:25 pm
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    Steve , say there good and longtime friend . I find myself puzzled at the overall theme and obvious negative tone in this recent writing. You seem to imply that coach Payne accepted the Head Coaching position at the University of Louisville , basically to put Louisville basketball in a less than favorable light in the ACC and in the Division 1 world of college basketball. If you have followed Kenny Payne’s successful past , either as a player, recruiting scout , assistant coach , or currently Head Coach at U of L , you have seen a picture of a very honorable and competitive individual. To suggest or openly state that Coach Payne would tarnish and destroy a lifetime of excellence and passion in the arena of college athletics , is , in my opinion, a disgraceful and unfair position that you have taken. I would imagine that Coach Payne is asking himself if his decision to lead the charge at U L was the right one , considering the results of his efforts to this point. Time will tell if Kenny Payne can be the coach that most Louisville fans hoped he would be , but come on Steve , GIVE THE MAN A BREAK !!!

    Reply
    • January 2, 2023 at 10:38 pm
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      I’m not necessarily implying he’s intentionally running UofL into the ground on purpose. Very small chance on that, sorry if I wasn’t clear on that.

      I think possibly he either is trying his best and it’s just not even minimally enough (which is bad), or maybe he got talked into the job with the mindset of “hey if I do good then awesome, if I suck then I still get paid millions”. Either way he’s set for life. Maybe his kids too.

      It’s becoming painfully obvious he doesn’t have the fire of some young up and comer, or the drive of Rick, or the detest of the rival art like Bobby.

      I mean, he’s not from Louisville, he only spent four years at UofL and ten at in Lexington. It seems to me like he just doesn’t have the love for the school like us die hard fans do.

      I’m sure he wants to win. Anybody would. I can almost say he clearly doesn’t hate to lose.

      Let me be clear. Im not rooting against him and don’t want him to fail. I would LOVE to be wrong. I sincerely hope he does anything and everything he can to make me look like an idiotic, irrational fan but it doesn’t tend to be trending that way.

      I fear he’s using UofL as his retirement cash cow.

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      • January 3, 2023 at 4:27 pm
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        Steve, like you I am a UL lifer. I watched games played in the old Armory. I followed UL in 1956 when Charlie Tyra led the Cardinals to the NIT championship. I was at the welcoming reception for Denny Crum. This is the winter of my discontent and hopefully, a once in 82 year blizzard.
        It is quite painful to watch this team. This group is either the most poorly prepared basketball players for college as we have seen at Louisville, has the lowest basketball IQ of ANY team we have had at Louisville, has a group learning deficit, has a resistance to what hopefully is being taught to them or “the emperor has NO clothes”. God, I pray it is NOT the latter. There is empirical evidence,however, that my prayers have fallen on deaf ears. For example, how many times against UK was the seam in the zone defense exploited? Whose job is it to see this exploitation and make the defensive adjustments. “Just ‘askin”.

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      • January 3, 2023 at 6:21 pm
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        I guess you were perfect at your first top job. Easy to say anything when you don’t know the truth. Ask coach Payne if, all the reasons you say are true. Give him a chance I’m sure you got yours. Fan since the 60’s

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      • January 3, 2023 at 6:29 pm
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        Right on Steve. This man is not equipped to lead the Louisville Cardinals basketball program. He does not have the experience, drive, or love to lead this beloved basketball program. He is a joke and making them the laughing stock of the college basketball world. Go back to your man crush Calipari Mr. Payne. I do not even have enough respect for you to call you coach.

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        • January 4, 2023 at 3:19 pm
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          Great article and 100% spot on. KP is in so far over his head he may never see daylight again. If Josh Heird doesn’t grow a pair and work out an easy exit for KP UofL will fall into oblivion with the likes of Houston and UNLV.. He needs to go after this season !

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          • January 4, 2023 at 11:04 pm
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            Milking? Cmon man. So world wide wes and KP and Nike and CAL are pulling one over on us? Are Q anon and the Democratic Party and the deep state and cabal of pedophiles coordinating the milking of UofL?

            Our players missed all of last years development and have serious fundamental skill deficits. Period.

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      • January 4, 2023 at 12:59 pm
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        I am a HUGE UK fan but I WANT KP to succeed at UL. That helps our Entire State look good in ? and i know he did not recruit the players he has now. Give him time. UL just got thru all the scandals and stuff. Look at how long its taken Penn State in Football or UK in basketball. Hell UK even with Calipari is still not that great even with all the talent they have yearly. One title in 11 years with what he has had is bad. Sure he has Final Fours ti but that’s not titles. Give him time to get HIS players you all will get there. I still root for Louisville when UK isn’t playing them you all are in great hands. He will get it going.

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        • January 4, 2023 at 3:26 pm
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          You bring up even another good point.

          Kenny has learned most of his coaching skills from Cal.

          So, even with the plethora of lottery pics “Cal has produced”, he only has the title with AD.

          So how in the world can Kenny be expected to win championships with that kind of “coaching” education with lesser talent? We now know the 5 stars aren’t coming like we were hornswaggled into thinking they would. No Wesley, no Nike help, ect. Kenny’s on his own, and the results are surfacing. The future doesn’t look good.

          The hope was, I guess, that Kenny did win those games. But clearly he did not. Now how is he going to even sniff tournaments with 200th-ranked players? I hope that changes, but that’s what we’re staring in the face right now.

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      • January 4, 2023 at 1:29 pm
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        Remember Jimmy Johnson coaching Dallas Cowboys? Everyone said the same thing you are saying now. Good thing they decided to stick with him. Oh.. LSU didn’t hire Nick Saban back because they listened to fans like you. How did that work out for LSU? Anyone can win with an all star team. Was there anyone who made honorable mention to the 5th team all ACC last season? I am just asking? COACH on any level.

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        • January 4, 2023 at 3:30 pm
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          Cal fields a recruiting all-star team every year and doesn’t win, only once with a generational talent.

          LSU won a national title after Saban left.

          No, the returning players didn’t give him much to work with. But this isn’t 1985, 1995, 20015 anymore either, however.

          You can just look at McMahon in Baton Rouge to see what you do when you bust your ass to assemble a good roster in just one offseason. He bulit his team quickly by busting his ass when he got there.

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          • January 4, 2023 at 6:14 pm
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            Saban won a Championship at LSU. The LSU had the luxury of taking three scholarship players with him from. Murray State University. In addition to players familiar with and “bought-in” to his system, he was able to parlay his relationships with previously committed MSU recruits to aid him in building his roster.

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      • January 4, 2023 at 6:27 pm
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        I thought I was the lonely fish swimming up stream. Thanks for reiterating my thoughts.

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      • January 7, 2023 at 9:08 pm
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        You all are talking about Kenny hell look at what Ky has, They have needed a coach for at least five years if not longer, if there ever was one riding the check book he is , he has had some of the best talent in the country and looses by 33 Today, then he gets on his program and says just give us time Well you don’t have time playing 2 3. games a week.
        Not one of them would stay if they stop the checks, it has nothing to with the Love for the team ITS THE MONEY.

        Reply
    • January 3, 2023 at 10:01 am
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      I agree, KP may not be milking UofL on purpose but all the other pieces of info about KP are true. 2-13? KP should be forced to leave unless he has a top 10 recruiting class for 2023.

      KP screwed this up and consequently screwed up his future coaching potential.

      Reply
      • January 3, 2023 at 6:56 pm
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        I think Kenny should walk away after the season and hire Nolan Smith as the HC. He’s young, hungry and he coached under the man coach K at Duke. I was on the fence too until I saw him all but offer to take coach Cal to a hotel. Love KP as a player, but not so much as a HC.

        Reply
      • January 4, 2023 at 10:03 am
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        When Payne said before the season that this year would be bad, and next season would only be marginally better, it was all any of us should have needed to hear. He’s in over his head.

        In the current environment of CBB turnarounds don’t take years, they can take one recruiting class, and a couple of highly rated players from the transfer portal. This was the reason he was hired, to get new, top talent, to come to UofL! He hasn’t.

        I can take a 6 or 7 win season. What I can’t take is next year’s recruiting class ranking 35th. Is this what we should have expected by hiring one of the best recruiters in the game? Guaranteed playing time and Kenny can’t out recruit Cincinnati or Pitt?

        Josh

        Reply
    • January 3, 2023 at 11:04 am
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      Ron, Sorry but he got his break when he got the UofL job, a job that would any coach would be overjoyed with. He has failed to recruit new talent, failed to take advantage of the NIL system, failed to get any talent out of the transfer portal and failed to develop the talent he has. He has only one true guard in a game that depends on guards. He doesn’t do well when it comes to providing solutions. If he is so honorable, as you suggest, he will resign after this season.

      Reply
  • January 2, 2023 at 10:41 pm
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    That’s what UofL gets for hiring somebody from the Calipari coaching tree. He cares about as much about UofL as Eaves, Beard, Pervis, Perrin and Bender do. If he truly cares about the school he would step down at the end of the year.

    Reply
  • January 2, 2023 at 11:07 pm
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    Give him a break? He got THE break – the head coaching job at one of the most storied programs in college hoops history, with a base salary of 3.35 MILLION DOLLARS!

    This article is, sadly, spot on.

    Reply
  • January 3, 2023 at 8:42 am
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    PLEASE GIVE COACH PAYNE A CHANCE.HE IS WORKING WITH WHAT HE HAS INHERITED.LETS SEE HOW HIS RECRUTING GOES I WILL BET WE WILL BE A LOT BETTER NEXT SEASON.GOD BLESS YOU AND HEAVEN SMILE UPON YOU AMEN.

    Reply
    • January 3, 2023 at 11:00 am
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      He is working with what he inherited. So true.

      He is also working with what he did with the rest of the roster that he patched together over the offseason. Which is entirely his doing.

      He uncontrollably smiles when he loses to Kentucky by 23.

      Reply
      • January 3, 2023 at 2:06 pm
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        Disturbing part is “what he inherited ” is grossly underperforming. Cards have better talent then 70% of the teams they have played including Syracuse whom they play tonight.

        Here are some stats to be proud of, out of 352 teams ranked in Division 1 the Cards are Ranked:
        TURNOVER MARGIN. 347 and El Ellis leads the Nation in TO.
        ASSISTS TO TURNOVER RATIO: 351 only 1 team worse than the Cards
        ASSISTS PER GAME. 351 only 1 team worse than the Cards

        And with one of the tallest front lines in the game :
        BLOCKS PER GAME: Ranked 215.
        REBOUND MARGIN : Ranked at 308
        REBOUNDS PER GAME: Ranked 326
        SCORING DEFENSE: Ranked 300

        3pt PERCENTAGE: Ranked 296
        FASTBREAK POINTS: RANKED 316
        STEALS PER GAME: Ranked 300
        FEILD GOAL PERCENTAGE RANKED 326
        TURNOVERS FORCED PER GM: Ranked 252
        WINNING PERCENTAGE : RANKED 353.

        CAN ANYBODY FIND A STAT WHERE THE Cards have improved over last years team?

        Reply
        • January 9, 2023 at 3:53 pm
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          “LeT’s GIvE hiM TiMe tO tURN It ArOUnD. hE oNLy nEeDs sEVeN moRe yEArs. YUo ov EL hAs theM thayRe a geWd CoacH.”

          -Bubba from Hazard

          Reply
  • January 3, 2023 at 9:02 am
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    What everyone FORGIVES is the root cause of the dumpster fire. What everyone forgets is how bad these same guys were for Coach Mack, who quit mid-season for cash, and then Coach Pegues. Five of the fundamentally better players transferred. Yes K.P. has sucked, but you can not make chicken salad out of chicken poop. THE PLAYERS ARE LOSERS. It is clearly a culture problem.

    Reply
      • January 4, 2023 at 9:39 am
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        Good Article
        Let’s see what happens
        Payne has been given chances
        To put a product on the court that has value.

        Reply
    • January 4, 2023 at 2:14 am
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      The players are losers? What a crappy take. Ellis and co are not the scrubs you make them out to be. They are talented young men that need to be COACHED, the job KP is getting paid million to do. Get out of here with that nonsense

      Reply
  • January 3, 2023 at 2:09 pm
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    Disturbing part is “what he inherited ” is grossly underperforming. Cards have better talent then 70% of the teams they have played including Syracuse whom they play tonight.

    Can anyone locate a stat indicating the Cards have improved over last years performances. Most of the teams statistics Cards are Ranked in the bottom 50.

    Reply
  • January 3, 2023 at 2:09 pm
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    Disturbing part is “what he inherited ” is grossly underperforming. Cards have better talent then 70% of the teams they have played including Syracuse whom they play tonight.

    Most of the teams statistics Cards are Ranked in the bottom 50.

    Reply
  • January 3, 2023 at 2:39 pm
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    I hate to say it but KP is in over his head! We should have gotten an up and coming coach that has fire and grit and has been a proven head coach. We need a coach like coach Mussleman from Arkansas, look and see what he’s doing their and then say to yourself what do you think he could do here? BTW the SEC is also becoming a basketball conference.

    Reply
  • January 3, 2023 at 3:39 pm
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    Payne is exploiting the $5 million / year salary / addl benefits since he is incompetent and inept as a basketball coach. He could care less if they win or lose since he is still paid for lack of performance / results. If he were CEO of a business he would have been terminated long ago and sued for repayment for causing major losses. True fans are delusional if you really believe Pain will turn the program around ..he is and will destroy our beloved high level program. Yes – he is not only milking our program, the university and the fans, but he is content with whatever happens since his future is guaranteed. Also no one ever mentions the “lack of diversity” on this “team”. Demand Pain’s termination – immediately since there is no future or present under his incompetent non leadership and request back the millions he was improperly paid.

    Reply
  • January 3, 2023 at 5:05 pm
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    How can you attack a man who has the courage to still smile through adversity? A lot of factors are present to cause the misfortunes in U of L hoops. SO WHAT if he smiles when he sees his longtime friend John Calipari after getting blown out?? Is he not human?? You fans want everybody to conform to what “y’all” think is right or wrong for the coaches, or players, or staff!! So do y’all want him th change who he has been for the 55 years of his life because y’all are butthurt?? John Calipari gets 4 and 5 star, NBA caliber players EVERY year…….YET…….he only has ONE Championship, a first round NIT loss, and less respect. My opinion, they are still under Mack’s system……as they were Mack’s recruits! Hell Kentucky……..the “supposed elite” team went 9-16 a few years ago………..WITH NBA CALIBER PLAYERS!!! If anyone is milking a University, it’s definitely him!! It’s easy to sit behind a computer, or a smart phone and state your opinions on how a coach, or player should conduct themselves!! What the hell did you expect Kenny Payne to do? Slap the fuck out of Calipari because his team lost?? One thing he does unlike a lot of you………..he Carrie’s himself as Kenny Payne at all times because that is who he is!!! He is NOT your puppet to conform into what you think he should do, or how you think he should act. And the writer of this article…….instead of spewing vitriol towards a coach of a program that you claim to love, show your readers that you are not like that fan base that’s 80 miles East!! Denny Crum as great as he was had terrible seasons! Duke’s Head coach, UConn, West Virginia, Indiana……..I can go on and on…………So no…….Kenny Payne IS NOT milking U of L!!! Just imagine how hard it is for any coach…..ESPECIALLY a black coach coming into a fucked up program and trying to turn it around!! It hasn’t even been a year yet and y’all are talking about getting rid of him already???? Who else would want to come here……especially after reading articles like this one………and some of the responses that support it!! You also have to remember that these are 17-22 year old kids!!! The unfortunate incident that happened to Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin!! There has been basketball players that have collapsed and died on the basketball court so it could happen anytime and anywhere! Let’s try to appreciate not only Coach Kenny Payne’s efforts……..but Louisville’s basketball team as well!! I am disappointed like everyone else…..but I am patient and respectfully hopeful! Do I cuss when they don’t play good or make a mistake?? Hell yeah……..but in the confines of my own home……not in public where it can be used for ammunition!!
    Applaud during the good times, support during the bad times, and stop proving to the rest of the world that Louisville fans are “Fairweather”. I am truly L1C4!!!! Are you???

    Reply
    • January 4, 2023 at 1:52 pm
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      God I feel so sorry for Kenny. He’s getting criticized. No other coach in America would dare get criticized for a 2-14 record. You are out of your mind The evidence is clear and it makes no difference of his skin color. The dude just sucks. I know that’s hard for you to wrap your head around but its the truth. Sorry

      Reply
    • January 4, 2023 at 2:58 pm
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      I couldn’t have said it any better. Thank you.

      Reply
    • January 4, 2023 at 3:40 pm
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      No fairweather here. I care so much I put myself and reputation out there in 1500 words to try to do something with the platform I have. I’m here and not going anywhere. Love the Cards.

      Love for the country, not for love of the king.

      As for your ridiculous question, no I didn’t want him to slap Calipari. Goes without saying. Over the top much? A more fiiting response would be to shake his hand and then do the bromance stuff out of sight of the TV cameras and reporters. Terrible job of reading the room. If he had coached UofL to a 23-point win, then by all means, yuck it up. But I doubt you’d see Cal all smiles and touchy-feely like that. Payne probably would’ve gotten a blow-by.

      Again, I hope I’m really wrong about Payne, but the evidence to the contrary adds up daily.

      My opinions on how Payne is doing and how to handle it is definitely fair game. My fanhood is beyond reproach.

      Reply
      • January 5, 2023 at 9:27 am
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        I find it ironic that you want KP to do the “Bromance” stuff out of sight for “you”………..but you did entirely the opposite for Louisville……AND Kentucky fans with your article. Louisville Athletics……ESPECIALLY basketball has suffered enough since 2013! KP has enough class to not let a basketball game…….which was all but predictable….to change his demeanor…..even in front of millions of viewers! Kenny Payne is not the King of a country…….he is the head coach of a troubled basketball program that needs “our” support! It’s only been a few months! Did you really expect a perfect “no loss” season? It’s difficult to get players who are used to one coach’s system to buy in and totally change to another coach’s system. Class has nothing to do with “reading a room”! KP is not an “actor” who changes his persona so fans can feel better about themselves after a loss……with a rival team! And as far as seeing Call all smiles? Who’s to say? And who cares? What people tend to forget is that whether a coach, or a player…….they are still human beings that have lives and relationships aside from basketball. Friends can be rivals and still be friends!! And the fact that KP was able to show that regardless of what “we” expected from him……unlike Cal…..showed that his friendship with Cal……..is not fake and not based on a win or a loss! Someone needs to break the cycle and not join the thousands of sports critics who have nothing good to say about the Louisville basketball program. I can safely assume that it will not be you.
        L1C4 regardless!!

        Reply
        • January 29, 2023 at 1:08 pm
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          You are so societally-cognitively challenged my retort is simplified so as to aid in your comprehension:

          You are incarcerated, uneventfully, in a cell next to a feared inmate named “Billy John” for 4 years. However, you inadvertently anger him so he forcibly sodomizes you in the prison showers in front of everyone (finishing on your face.) Would you then, at lunch a short time later, willingly walk to “Billy John’s” cafeteria table and ask if you can sit with him, offering him your mashed potatoes and gravy?

          (I should have known what to expect at your pride in “Smitty.” Duh.)

          Reply
  • January 3, 2023 at 6:08 pm
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    Kenny Payne is definitely in over his head & now our program is set back even further. Louisville is now in the same boat as Georgetown which is a shame. This is what happens when you let basketball alumni & fans pick the coach. There was a reason he has never landed a head coaching gig before now, DePaul didn’t even want him. In coaching circles, Kenny is solely known for his recruiting because of his Nike ties. We are an Adidas affiliated school. Those who thought recruiting would take off were sorely mistaken & now we’re paying for it. I hope Jerry Eaves, Butch Beard & some of these boosters are happy with what they’ve done.

    Reply
    • January 4, 2023 at 7:43 pm
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      We also have an AD that didn’t have any qualifications to do the job! There are some very qualified people out there that would grab the Louisville AD job in a heartbeat.

      Reply
  • January 3, 2023 at 6:59 pm
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    He was too quiet during his roster development stage and glaringly failed at addressing the holes in the roster. So far, UL has 2 signed players for 2023 and he will have obviously a hard time getting anybudy here from the portal. His court side manners don’t show much energy, urgency, and seems too nice. I have never seen be stern. Somebody should check the CJ Times articles about fan booing him anytime he would enter the gam for the 76ers. I may be wrong about this but that’s what I recall reading about him. He sure says all the right things but team is unable to perform. Not fair to UL and our community.

    Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 12:29 am
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    If John Calipari had this team he would be just as bad. He gets the best recruits every year and still don’t win it all. JS…….. This is not a good team. No true PG, no true or stretch PF/Center… it goes on.

    With the right recruits this will be a different season

    Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 3:11 am
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    Well.. after hearing all of this I have but one comment to make.
    GO BIG BLUE
    Hahahahahahaha
    Enjoy your time in the basement

    Reply
    • January 4, 2023 at 1:48 pm
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      I’m with you. I hate Kentucky in all sports up until this year. I hope they continue to dominate Louisville. Kenny Payne sucks

      Reply
    • January 5, 2023 at 9:30 am
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      This coming from a UK fan whose team went 9-16 a few years ago……..WITH NBA caliber players???? Really????

      Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 5:32 am
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    You are a petulant child. You have 0 perspective on where we’ve been as a program the last 7+ years now. Going back to the dorm/brothel scandal.
    You just want what you want. Like most of the Louisville fan base. So you all gonna just take your ball and go home huh? Quit going to the games? That’ll show ‘em. We didn’t get the death penalty. But we got it anyway. Twisting in the NCAA wind for FIVE years. NOBODY wanted to come to U of L this year and the preceding 5 YEARS because EVERYBODY assumed we’d be banned from the tournament. Just so happens we just happen to suck really bad. Go figure?! The team that the last coach couldn’t connect with and took a buyout finished the year 3-15 and we lost most of the production from said team. Your assessment is small & lame and makes me want more from the fan base of my beloved Louisville Cardinals. Kenny Payne is going to turn this situation around. It’s going to take longer than your feeble mind & attention span has time for. Learn something about life dude. About struggles & the path to redemption. Find another team & call it a homer career. I’d consider it addition by subtraction if we lost your fandom yesterday.
    GO CARDS!

    Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 6:55 am
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    I never sign up to comment on articles. I am only doing it this time to say that I think that the idea that Kenny is milking the university for money is UNDENIABLY STUPID.

    Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 7:18 am
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    If he is milking UofL it would be the one he is successfully accomplishing this season.
    I remember when Darrel Griffith was nothing less than a super hero!
    I remember laying on my bed as a teenager( for crying out loud) and crying when we lost to Georgetown.
    I can not stomach what is happens at UofL right now At the age of 55 I’m very close to laying on my bed and crying again., good grief!
    Please Kenny Payne, leave.

    Reply
    • January 4, 2023 at 11:12 am
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      The UofL team and coach are brand new so everybody needs to leave the coach alone and give him time I hate losing too

      Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 10:35 am
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    GO CARDS!! NUFF SAID!!!

    Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 2:22 pm
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    Amazing you never mentioned the UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY, just references to “Lexington” and “arch rival.” Most UofL fans desperately wanted this career assistant coach with unrealistic hopes that he could lure D.J. Wagner because he was a teammate of his grandfather, completely forgetting D.J.’s FATHER, Dejuan, was Calipari’s first one-and-done at Memphis. Kenny had NO head coaching experience, so he’s now on training wheels. Deal with it!

    Reply
    • January 4, 2023 at 10:16 pm
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      Nice catch, Chris.

      But UofL is not a place for learning on the job.

      Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 2:38 pm
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    Give man chance! Good person will get job done. Great fit for UL!!

    Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 2:38 pm
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    Not all Payne’s fault. Don’t believe he is milking. His players this year have no school pride and no heart to win close games. Payne is a great recruiter but as a coach he couldn’t lead hungry wolves to fresh meat. He has made history however. No coach at U of L has ever lost 13 games in one season. What’s even worst is other than UofK game, everybody else has been cupcake teams. If you don’t have the pride to win home games, what are you going to do on the road? LOSE BADLY!! GO BIG BLUE!!

    Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 2:46 pm
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    Re hire Pitino and the “HOOKERS”. At least Pitino could coach and the HOOKERS helped the players win games to include a National Championship!

    Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 3:18 pm
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    WOW!!!! I AM A TRUE DIE HARD KENTUCKY FAN BUT ALSO WAS RAISED WITH MY BROTHERS WHO WERE NOT AND THEY WERE IN LOVE WITH THE DOCTORS OF DUNK AND DENNY CRUM , I WILL ADMIT IT WHEN KENNY PAYNE LEFT LEXINGTON I KNEW THAT WE JUST LOST A GREAT BASKETBALL MIND AND ALSO JUST A GREAT PERSON ALL TOGETHER , IM PRETTY SURE THE GUY THAT WROTE THIS ARTICLE ALSO THOUGHT IS WAS A GOOD IDEA TO BRING BACK BOBBY PETRINO, BUT WITH ALL THAT BEING SAID YOU NAME ME ONE SET OF PARENTS THAT ARE GOING TO TELL THERE 4 OR 5 STAR SON THAT THEY WOULD LOVE TO SEE THEM IN UOFL RED NEXT YEAR WHEN KENNY PAYNE HAD NO IDEA AT THE TIME WHAT THE NCAA WAS GOING TO DO TO THE PROGRAM AND YOU CANT UNDERSTAND WHY HE COULDNT CLOSE ON SOME OF THE GUYS YOU ALL WERE TRYING TO GET …. EVERYONE PERSON ON HERE MAKING COMMENTS ABOUT IF HE TRULY LOVED THE PROGRAM LIKE YOU SUPPOSEDLY DO HE WOULD WALK AWAY AFTER THE SEASON , WRONG YOU JACKASS’S HE STAYS AND FIGHTS FOR THE UNIVERSITY THAT HE LOVES , YOU DONT WALK AWAY FROM YOUR UNIVERSITY THAT GAVE YOU A SHOT WHEN YOU WAS A HIGH SCHOOLER THEN WAS ABLE TO GET A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP PLUS THE SHOT AT YOUR VERY FIRST HEAD COACHING …..YEA GREAT CALL IF HE WAS A TRUE CARDINAL HE WOULD WALK AWAY ….. GOD AND YOU STILL WROTE THE ARTICLE …. AMAZING WORK YOU ALL SHOULD BE ASHAMED….. AND I AM A DIE HARD KENTUCKY FAN ….WTF!!!!

    Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 5:13 pm
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    Typical UK REDNECK.. Like most UK Fay-uns, you were lucky to graduate high school, much less college

    Reply
  • January 4, 2023 at 6:53 pm
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    Kenny,
    Should not be receiving these vitriol posts in his first season with the cards he was dealt!
    Many of you here are letting emotions get the best of you and quite frankly insulting a great human being navigating a most difficult situation not created by him.
    Kenny would never milk the position and I find that insulting to anyone who actually knows him. So he shakes Cal’s hand and smiles………what did you want head but or fist to cuffs? Crazy!!
    Many schools would take him and UL was incredibly lucky to get him and he’ll be gone if the craziness of fan base turns negative .
    Give him a couple years before you throw the baby out with the bath water! Just saying!

    Reply
  • January 5, 2023 at 12:32 am
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    Delusional doesn’t begin to explain most of these comments. And I’m here for all of it!!

    ???

    Reply
  • January 5, 2023 at 1:18 am
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    Kenny…let them fire you…take the money…good luck finding a coach who’s expected to reach the Final Four his first year…with a program that’s been a mess for years…and with a fan base whose crying shows they no little about building and running a team…with players who don’t fit the coaches planned style…GIVE HIM TIME AND SUPPORT!

    Reply
    • January 29, 2023 at 2:03 pm
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      The Final Four?! Four wins would be more accurate.

      Reply
  • January 7, 2023 at 6:08 am
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    Steve . I think we are being a little irrational here . Yes I believe there is a learning curve for KP and our team makes a lot of mistakes on the court that the opposing team does not force . But this is year one and we do have to give the coach and his staff time . I think some of our problems as a fan base begins with Coach Crum and Pitino . They were two Hall of Fame coaches that ran our program for decades .. Although these two coaches usually recruited at a high level there were years when they missed .. During those time they could rely on the culture and foundation that was established and built over decades . We usually fell in love with those not so talented teams because they laid it on the line every game and played as hard as they could !! KP will get the program back to where it needs to be with time .. In between Coach P getting fired and all that happened with Coach Mack there is no standard anymore within the program !!! This has to be established before we can get back to winning championships ..

    So I would ask the fan base to do the hard and difficult thing . Attend games and support the team just like we did in the later Denny Crum days and the early Pitino days !! Those teams were not great and a NCAA Tournament birth was a successful season for us . We were not thinking about the final for let alone a championship . But we supported them .. Yes it’s bad basketball. Trust me I know . But I still wake up in the middle of the night here in Germany to do my part and support my team . Life long Cardinal Fan . Black and Red until I’m dead !!

    Reply
  • January 7, 2023 at 6:36 pm
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    One last question is your daddy still wiping your butt. He is a very poor defender of your crap review. UK is waiting for you. Bye

    Reply
  • January 11, 2023 at 12:54 pm
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    Wait! You were 5 in 1979 but only 9 in 1986? ?

    Reply
    • January 11, 2023 at 10:47 pm
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      Well I proofread my words but not my math. I was born in August of 75 so I was 10 in March of 86, going on 11, so the math on my age was off a year.

      I’m glad you agreed with everything but that. 🙂

      Reply
    • January 11, 2023 at 10:50 pm
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      And I said I was four in 79, so looks like we both were off a year. Lol

      Reply
      • January 29, 2023 at 1:15 pm
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        Ignore it…obviously a UK fan.

        Reply
        • January 29, 2023 at 1:16 pm
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          Not invested in content…looking to be annoying.

          Reply

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