Dump The Suit, Dump Georgetown

Was it Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke? Rick Pitino seemed confused about what he had spilled all over his white suit at halftime. Most likely Pepsi since that company owns the concession rights.

Pitino had to discard those duds. He was destined for the worst dressed coaches’ list in that outfit. Out comes the black suit in the second half, along with dramatic shifts in intensity and poise. The wardrobe change symbolized what could only be described as a total transformation as the game evolved.

During the treacherous first half, U of L was a team that was playing timid, tight and tenuous, tripping over its own temerity, tumbling toward an inevitable thrashing. Some U of L fanatics, like Tom Heiser were ready to all but throw in the towel, as he noted in his running blog:

This is as bad as the U of L offense has looked all season. The point guard position has been non-existent; and T-Will’s point-forward role has crashed under the weight of his errancy. The last two Georgetown hoops (the 3-pointer and runout to close the half) gutted the crowd’s excitement after Smith’s treys. Don’t know what the Cards can do to turn around the fortunes of a game that seem to have slipped from their grasp.

No doubt Pitino delivered one of his fiery motivational speeches at half time, one he later described as "peeling the paint off the walls" in the Cardinal dressing room. One envisions the famous white suit being stuffed in a garbage can, only to pulled out by a craft team manager to sold as a collector’s item on Ebay. If anyone was taping those Pitino’s remarks, they should d well, too.

Whatever Pitino did, it worked.

The Cards went from committing 10 turnovers in the first half to only five in the second half, and one of the season lows of 15 for the entire game. They went from being out-rebounded 15-9 in the first half to owning the boards by a 20-9 edge in the second half.

They went from being a team in the first half that appeared to be reverting to their early season struggles to a team in the second half that was going to do whatever it took to win, a team capable of making a run deep into some tournaments. No sense in playing ugly, play smart. Play tough defense, smart offense. That’s what gets it done. And they did get it done.

Difficult to single out any players. You don’t beat Georgetown without a total effort. But David Padgett, you know when he’s in there and he gets the ball, more likely than not good things are going to happen. Jerry Smith’s four three-pointers just affirmed the fact he is an exceptionally talented player, fearless on offense to match his ferocity on defense. T-Will being unselfish again, shutting down his guy as well.

Pete Padgett Knew Better

Remember the shock U of L fans felt when they heard David Padgett has suffered and busted kneecap and that his career was probably over? Then came the miraculous recovery and the return of the team leader, defying all odds. David’s dad, Pete, was confident his son would return, per this narrative in The Hoya:

Pete Padgett watched as his only son walked off the floor at Freedom Hall, head bowed after a one-point loss to Cincinnati. He couldn’t have been happier.

It was the first day of a new year, and despite the loss, Padgett had reason to believe 2008 would be better than years past. His son David, Louisville’s senior center and co-captain, had scored 13 points and grabbed three rebounds. But more importantly, he had played through the game without pain. He was back.

Just six weeks earlier, Pete Padgett had watched as Cardinals Head Coach Rick Pitino called an impromptu press conference to announce that David had fractured his knee cap and was more than likely done for the season. Since his son had already sat out his sophomore season after transferring from Kansas, Pete knew the NCAA would be reluctant to grant David a sixth year of eligibility. Pete knew that “done for the year” meant finished. Forever. But Pete also knew his son.

“I know David pretty well, obviously,” says Padgett, who coached his son at Reno High School in Reno, Nev. “I knew he would be back.”

Somehow, David Padgett found his way back to the hardwood after only six weeks, and has regained his role as the team’s unquestioned leader.

As one observes David Padgett on the court, one knows instinctively that the guy who wear No. 4 is still enduring incredible pain, the kind of pain that necessitates massive ice packs on the knee for hours. One also know that Padgett will suffer physical pain long into the future. He loves the game and this team, and those are reasons enough for him to make the personal sacrifice.

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.