CRAWFORD | Park the bus: Padgett keeps UK talks in-house as Louisville preps for Pitt
Louisville interim basketball coach David Padgett said he'll keep discussions he had with his players after their lopsided loss to Kentucky private, but that the team has had more intense practices leading up to Tuesday's ACC opener against Pittsburgh.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – If you were waiting to see who would be thrown under the bus after last week's 29-point blowout loss at Kentucky, you were no doubt disappointed in Louisville interim basketball coach David Padgett’s first news conference since the game.
The bus has come and gone, and there are no tire tracks.
Padgett called some guys out and had some pointed things to say to his basketball team after its 90-61 meltdown in Rupp Arena last Friday, but he’s not going to share them. This is a bit of a departure from many coaches, who think nothing of singling out players either by name or by implication in public postgame comments.
“I'm not going to go into too much detail about what we did or what was said or anything like that, but it's behind us,” Padgett said. “We can't dwell on it.”
An effort was made for more detail, to at last maybe have him rev the engine of the bus a little bit.
“They knew what we didn't do well,” Padgett said of his players. “In a game like that, obviously we didn't do many things well, but they knew how I felt, and I'll just leave it at that. We kept it between myself and the players.”
Padgett says the team responded to the loss with a pair of intense practices, and he was hoping for another Monday afternoon with Atlantic Coast Conference play beginning Tuesday at 9 p.m. in the KFC Yum! Center against Pittsburgh. He took it as a good sign.
More than once, he told reporters, “I love my team,” and that he’d reiterated to them his belief in them and their ability to accomplish something special with this season.
That particular bandwagon lost quite a few members after the lopsided loss to Kentucky, in which the Cardinals made just 3 of 25 three-point shots amid a host of other problems.
At one point, I asked Padgett if he saw any common themes that ran through the losses, and he said, “I think that one the other day was different from our other ones, obviously, because of the score.”
But I did see something in that loss that I also saw in the loss at Purdue and the home loss to Seton Hall. At Purdue, Louisville had a lead but when it began to experience foul trouble, for some reason it got in a hurry on offense, took quick shots and allowed the Boilermakers to make a quick move, and seize momentum.
Against Seton Hall, Louisville went up by seven points with just under 12 minutes to play. They had outscored the Pirates 20-7 over about a six-minute span, and appeared on the verge of taking control. Then the Cards again got in a bit of a rush, missed a three-pointer, which led to a score, then turned it over on the break, which led to a layup.
At Kentucky, the odds were long anyway. But when Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud went to the bench with two fouls with 6:42 to play in the half and Kentucky up two after a pair of free throws, they got even longer.
An experienced team would grow very deliberate on offense in that situation, using the clock to work for good shots, and to shorten the half where possible. In fact, Louisville was weathering the storm. It was down only four with 3:50 to play in the half.
Then the Cards lost control of themselves on offense. They let the game speed up, and Kentucky, which had managed just 14 points in the previous 10 minutes, scored 16 in the final 3:39 of the half, and Louisville was down 14 at the break.
A more disciplined approach might not’ve won the game. But it could well have kept the game within reach until the second half.
Kentucky also did a good job on Snider. Realizing his importance, as other teams surely do, it blitzed him in pick-and-roll situations and otherwise shaded him to keep him out of a comfort zone. He wound up just 3 of 11 in the game and finished with just seven points.
Padgett said that in that event, it was up to others to step up and handle the ball, and make plays within the offense.
“You just can't rely on one person and say, here, you've got to do the right thing for everybody else,” he said. “Obviously Q is very important to our team, but other guys have to step up and make plays as well.”
Padgett said his team is looking forward to a new start with the first conference game Wednesday. He said Pittsburgh presents a defensive challenge with its motion and ability to shoot at all five positions.
But mainly, his message for his team was one of confidence, despite what happened against their biggest rival on Friday.
“Were we disappointed with playing just a poor game? Of course we were,” Padgett said. “But I told my guys yesterday, I love my team, I wouldn't trade them for any 14 players in the country. I love them to death. They've given me great joy in a tough time this year, and make it enjoyable for me to come to work every day. I have the utmost confidence in the world in them. I believe in them.
“. . . We just picked a bad day to have our worst performance of the year up to that point, and you have to give (Kentucky) a ton of credit, because I think that was probably their best performance. And that's how it goes sometimes. We're not dwelling on it. We had to learn from it. And we just have to use it in a positive way from a correctional standpoint and a motivational standpoint moving forward.”
And if you’re standing around waiting at the bus stop to see any casualties, you might have to wait for a while.
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