Hold on to your butts, Louisville fans — the most difficult stretch of the season is officially upon us. The final five games of the year linger in the horizon like The Night’s Watch peering toward the legions of white walkers as they approach The Wall (NEEERRRD!). As any fan of UofL basketball would be, I’m worried, but not as much as David Padgett should be, that is if he’s actually expecting to be considered as a legitimate permanent candidate to take over the reigns as the official head coach.
UofL closes out the 2018 season with home games against North Carolina and Virginia (senior day — OUCH), and more-than-challenging away games at Duke, Virginia Tech and NC State. If Padgett’s proverbial coaching balls haven’t dropped before this stretch, they might hit the fucking ground when it’s all said and done.
Do I believe that Louisville has a chance in each of these games? Well sure, but the probability of them finishing this stretch with a winning record has to be low. Sure, the team looked great against a horrible Pittsburgh Panthers squad (that was fun, wasn’t it?), but this honeymoon of facing the tidal wave of average-to-lousy ACC opponents is officially over. It’s not Louisville’s or Padgett’s fault that this year’s schedule is so back loaded, but maybe this stretch is what these guys need — a blunt reminder that the NCAA tournament is just around the corner and it’s time to get your shit together.
But if somehow, someway Padgett and company rise from the ashes 3-2 or even 4-1 in this stretch, wins a game or two in the ACC Tournament and then earns a decent seed for the NCAA’s, then what? And what happens if he takes this team to the second weekend? Do you still cut him loose (as expected) in hopes of luring a big name coach from another program or the NBA?
If DP and the boys in red actually make it to the 3rd round (or is it actually called the 4th round now? who cares) then the thought process behind relieving the interim coach has to change, at least a little bit right? I mean that’d be a better outing than almost half of Rick Pitino’s tourney teams — out of 13 tournament appearances, Louisville’s former coach only made it to the Sweet Sixteen 6 times.
Yikes, I’d hate to be the person that makes that decision.
I absolutely love David Padgett, a former Card himself, and appreciate the direction he’s taken this program (if only for a few months), but I’m not sure there’s any way in Hades that this fella pulls something like this off. Yes, his roster is peppered with legit talent, and this team has looked very good in stretches, but has yet to put together a complete game (no, Pittsburgh doesn’t count). Throughout the season it’s become evident that these guys have major issues on defense with a group of guards that can’t stay in front of anybody, their offensive execution is at times underwhelming, and to say this team’s shooting is streaky would be an understatement.
But never forget, this is sports we’re talking about here, college basketball, where almost anything is possible, where the unthinkable seems to happen more often than any organized sport. Maybe it’s time that the Louisville basketball program is finally on the receiving end of good fortune. After these last 3 years, our fan base sure could use this kind of spark to reignite itself. If that does happen, this could end up being the most compelling off season in Louisville basketball history.