Ralph Willard rarely says anything publicly about the current University of Louisville basketball team. He also doesn’t seem to get overly involved in the huddle during timeouts, letting Rick Pitino do the talking.

Keeping silent has to be a monumental challenge for the Louisville assistant, formerly a head coach for almost 20 years, at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Holy Cross. Especially challenging with the lack of comprehension and consistency he has been privy to this season.

Keeping all the frustration under control has to be a  personal struggle. Coaches are supposed to yell, get angry, get in people’s faces, demand results. That’s what coaches do, especially people who have been head coaches.

One would hope for his sake that Willard is much more vocal during practice sessions. Possibly he shares his thoughts with his longtime friend. Maybe they argue about team issues long into the night after games and practice sessions.

If so, does Willard ever win any arguments with a boss who seems to have all the answers, if not the talent, to implement the solutions? How much influence does Willard really wield anyway?

Willard is not saying. One can only wonder what’s going on behind that permanent deadpan expression.

Charlie Springer

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

4 thoughts on “What’s Going On Inside Ralph Willard

  • February 24, 2010 at 10:51 pm
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    He’s wondering whether the current staff can survive long enough to enjoy the fruits of the 2011 recruiting class. Man, that’s a long way off.

  • February 25, 2010 at 11:50 pm
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    Isn’t he the highest paid assistant (co-coach) right now in the Big East? Perhaps, he was paid to stay quiet?
    Frankly, I do not feel he is an equal and even though he is hanging out with a dear friend he has got to see the down side to the ever vocal, media loving – double standard friend and head coach – Rick.?
    I have seen him lean into Rick and say things only for Rick to snarl and snap back. How much of that can any one person dish to another without it building up?
    Good article Charlie. I think there is something going on.~Perhaps, second thoughts?

  • February 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm
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    I’ve seen Coach Willard gather all 5 players from the court at the beginning of a timeout a couple of times. Rick walked away while Ralph was physically showing the athletes what to do, hands raised, feet in athletic stance, etc. I’ve also seen a few interactions between them on the bench. I’m sure CRW is supposed to be the sounding board for CRP while learning about this particular group of athletes. I imagine he may even run practices when CRP is out recruiting.

  • February 26, 2010 at 10:25 pm
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    I saw that game too Debby. I believe it was the Syracuse game. Pretty hard to forget because it was one of the few times we’ve seen Willard take over. I’m sure he is active in practice as well.

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