Louisville took one on the chin yesterday. The Cards suffered their 3rd loss of the season to Virginia (this one by 17 points) and left their NCAA tournament hopes in the hands of a group of people who probably don’t want to see them in it. We haven’t been in this position in a long time and quite honestly it’s not a good one to be in, but who cares?
Before the season, the Louisville basketball program was turned upside down. Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich were both fired, leaving the entire Athletic department (more specifically in this case, basketball) in disbelief and heartbreak. That feeling was worse than when our beloved team led by Damion Lee and Trey Lewis had an unfair self-imposed NCAA tournament ban by ex-president of UofL, James Ramsey.
With Pitino and Jurich gone 3 days before practice starts, where do we turn? Who wants that job right now anyway? No one did. No one wanted a job that was still in the middle of 2 scandals and hadn’t been punished for either at the time. No one wanted a job that had the word “TEMPORARY” painted throughout the contract, athletic department, even the school. Interim president, acting athletic director, interim head coach, and quite honestly for a lot of what I saw, interim fans.
David Padgett stepped up, took the job, coached practice for a month with no assistant coaches, took unfair and unnecessary criticism from his own “fans” and yet he never wavered. Padgett accomplished 3 things Pitino couldn’t in his time in the ACC (and the Big East). Padgett won a road game against a ranked opponent, Pitino never won an ACC ranked road game. Padgett beat Notre Dame on the road, Pitino didn’t. Most recently, Padgett won a game at the ACC tournament.
Coach Padgett has done an incredible job with this team. Sure, he’s made some mistakes, but this is his first head coaching job! Could you imagine anything more stressful than to have the NCAA/FBI on your newly inherited program’s case and have some nasty fans degrade the job your doing when no one else wanted to do it? I feel terribly sorry for DP. Whether it was a game we won or not, all I’d see/hear was how much better we’d be with someone else, critiques of the job he was doing, fans leaving every game way too early or simply not showing up at all. This man just won 20 games in his first year as a head coach with everything surrounding this program and some of you have chosen to make that a failure. That is not okay.
Where do we go from here? Well, for the fans that have been miserable all year for the wrong reasons, please don’t come back next year. Switch your colors out, buy a new bumper sticker and switch your allegiances because we, the true fans, don’t want anymore negative energy around our beloved program. For the team, you practice the next few days, prepare yourselves for wherever you get sent to and you continue to make us proud.
I believe Louisville will have their name called on Sunday by the NCAA committee. And if not, I’ll go to every NIT game the Yum! Center hosts. 2 years ago, James Ramsey took away the opportunity to play postseason basketball from our team. Fans gave him hell for it and still do. But, I’ve seen countless “fans” saying this team should neglect an NIT bid if the NCAA doesn’t give them one. Keep in mind, Ramsey implemented an entire postseason ban, and the very same thing we torched him for 2 years ago is the same thing some of you have been endorsing all season.
I don’t know who takes over after this year. Quite frankly, I don’t care. I’ve loved this year’s team since the first ball was tipped and nothing will change that. Thank you, Coach Padgett. You’ve done a tremendous job all season long and nothing can take away what you’ve given the guys on the team in their darkest hour. Wherever your future takes you, I know you’ll be successful.
So, where do we go from here? Up, nothing but up.