BOZICH | The next move David Padgett needs to make for Louisvill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | The next move David Padgett needs to make for Louisville basketball

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David Padgett has made 2 solid moves as the Louisville basketball coach. A recommendation for a third. David Padgett has made 2 solid moves as the Louisville basketball coach. A recommendation for a third.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There is no playbook for the job David Padgett faces as acting University of Louisville basketball coach, but Padgett has swiftly added two solid pages to his binder.

Trent Johnson, a coach who made the NCAA Tournament at Nevada, Stanford and Louisiana State, was a terrific addition as an assistant coach on 12 days notice.

Padgett delivered a second savvy move Thursday. He e-mailed an invitation to former U of L basketball players and coaches to a practice and follow-up reception at the KFC Yum! Center on Oct. 26.

Padgett can complete the three-point play by adding a player with Louisville ties to his staff.

Butch Beard. Tony Branch. Jerry Eaves. Wiley Brown. Tony Williams. Ellis Myles. There are other options. Guys have experience at every level of basketball. Just make a call.

“One great thing about the program is so many of us live here and would love to help,” said Branch, a former Division I head and assistant coach. “There are eight of us from the (1980 NCAA) championship team.

“All they have to do is call.”

That, it should be noted, is an issue that has disappointed and occasionally upset several former U of L players, especially guys who played for Denny Crum.

Not many calls. Not many requests to help or advice. No serious consideration, yet, of Crum-Era players as an acting assistant for the next six months.

Branch said the last request he received from the university was after the stripper and prostitution scandal broke two years ago. Branch said he and several former players got an e-mail with a request they decline interview requests, allowing the school to speak with a unified voice.

Another player from the Crum Era who later played in the NBA said he was asked not to stand in the runway between the Cardinals’ bench and the locker room when the team exited and entered the KFC Yum! Center floor at halftime.

Friction between guys from the Crum and Pitino eras? I’ve sensed some, but nothing outrageously different from I’ve seen at other schools after coaching changes.

“I wouldn’t say there was a big rift,” Branch said. “There was a bit of a cutoff between the Denny Crum Era and the Rick Pitino Era. There hasn’t been that normal closeness that you would hope for. Some of us feel we’ve never been asked for our opinions.”

Now, with the coaching turmoil, NCAA probation and growing uncertainty, the older players are poised to help. The practice/reception invitation from Padgett was a positive sign. Adding a former player to the staff would be another.

“To me, Butch Beard would be a natural (as an assistant),” Branch said. “He’s got every credential you could ask for.

“First of all, he’s got outstanding character, integrity and values. We need that. He’s one of the greatest players in U of L history. He won an NBA championship (in 1975) with the Golden State Warriors.

“Butch was a head coach in the NBA (the Nets) as well as a head coach at two different schools in college basketball. Why wouldn’t you talk to a guy like that? Somebody like Butch Beard is exactly what we need.”

Beard, for the record, has not been called. He works with Jerry Eaves, another former Cardinal, coaching basketball at Simmons College. Beard, 70, knows the game from every angle – large college, small college, NBA, radio analyst.

Eaves, head coach at Simmons, has been unsparing in his criticism of U of L on his daily radio show for months. He talked briefly with Padgett this week and expects to meet with him next week.

Like Branch, Eaves believes players from the Crum Era are qualified to assist. They’re the ones who made the program nationally relevant before Pitino replaced Crum in 2001, winning those national titles in 1980 and 1986. In the '60s, it was Beard and his friend, All-American Wes Unseld, who stayed home to play for the Cardinals. That was no slam-dunk decision for local African-American high school players in that era.

“We have a lot to give in terms of talking to players about our experiences playing basketball as well as after we finished playing basketball,” Branch said.

“Being a big brother or mentor, just talking to guys, driving home the point that the odds of them playing professional basketball are not great. We’ve been through things they’ll be going through and we’re right here in the community. This is our school. We want to help.”

All they have to do is call.

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