BOZICH | Monday Muse: Slow the Padgett criticism; Hall of Famers struggling, too
Critics teed off on Louisville interim basketball coach David Padgett after his team lost to Kentucky and Clemson. Perhaps they should look at how six Hall of Famers fared last week.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The reaction to the University of Louisville's loss at Clemson Saturday was your basic social media reaction to every college basketball or football loss:
Too loud. Too lengthy. Too simplistic. Too extreme.
I wasn't certain if Louisville lost to Spartanburg Junior High School or a Top 25 conference opponent that remains unbeaten at home this season.
I'm also not certain if everybody has taken a reasonable look what happened in college basketball over the last week. But they should.
Then, when they rail at David Padgett, they can rail at another string of coaches -- and rail at me.
1. Another Perspective on Padgett
The Twitter bullies love to flex. They whack LeBron James. They whack Tom Brady. They clobber Derek Jeter. Nobody gets a pass.
There is no reason to expect Padgett should get one, even as an interim coach at the University of Louisville. Critics want to see more emotion. They'd like to see him make the Cardinals play with more of an edge. They'd be thrilled with a technical foul.
My goal while leading with this item is not to arrange a pass for Padgett as he leads the Cardinals through the next 16 games of the regular season. My goal is to get everybody to exhale and take a wide-angle look at what's happening in college basketball this season.
There are six active college coaches in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame: John Calipari of Kentucky; Mike Krzyzewski of Duke; Roy Williams of North Carolina; Jim Boeheim of Syracuse; Bill Self of Kansas and Tom Izzo of Michigan State.
Five of those guys are coaching Top 25 teams. Only Boeheim is not.
This was the combined record of the Hall of Famers over the last week: 3-8.
Duke lost as a 12 ½ point favorite against North Carolina State. Syracuse lost as a 6 1/2-point home favorite against Notre Dame. Kansas stumbled as a 7 ½-point home favorite against Texas Tech.
Michigan State was favored to beat Ohio State by 6 1/2. The Spartans lost by 16. North Carolina went 0-2. Kentucky was outscored by 19 points in the second half at Tennessee.
Louisville lost an overtime game at Clemson. Too many careless turnovers. Not enough focus on keeping the Cardinals' inside players involved. Yet without an inside focus, U of L made just four shots from distance.
Yes, Louisville could have won. I wouldn't argue if you upgraded that assessment to Louisville should have won the game.
But the post-game bile directed at Padgett was extreme. The Cardinals defended well, rebounded well and competed as if they expected to win for 45 minutes.
Didn't happen. (For the record, it was not supposed to happen. Louisville was a 6-point underdog against a Clemson team unbeaten at Littlejohn Coliseum.)
This team has flaws. Let's see if Padgett and his staff can patch the flaws. Judge him at the end of the season.
2. Waiting on Zion
The top uncommitted high school basketball recruit in the nation is Zion Williamson, a 6-foot-6, 275-pound power forward from Spartanburg (S.C.) Day School.
The early prediction was Williamson would become the Next Great Player at Kentucky. North Carolina earned its share of love. There was Duke talk. Kansas talk. Talk about South Carolina, especially after the Gamecocks made their trip to the Final Four last spring.
Williamson will reportedly announce his decision on Jan. 20. Over the last month, national predictions about his choice have tilted to Clemson. At Scout.com, Williamson is considered a 70 percent lean to Clemson, with Kentucky sitting at 15 percent and UNC and Kansas at 5 percent.
After visiting Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday, I can report a sense of quiet confidence about the Williamson recruitment at Clemson.
Brad Brownell's staff has shown a determined focus on Williamson for more than three years. With Clemson in the Top 25 and crowds rising at renovated Littlejohn, energy percolates around Brownell's program.
The college football national title Clemson won last year has stirred more home-state pride about the program. Maybe Williamson can do for the basketball program what Deshaun Watson did for Dabo Swinney's football program.
Clemson is sitting in a great spot with Williamson.
3. Luke Walton For the Win
Some guy whose son plays for the Los Angeles Lakers has staged a determined campaign to undermine the authority of Lakers' coach Luke Walton.
Said something about the way the coach has used his son, a rookie point guard with a bad jump shot. Said something about guys not wanting to play for Walton. Said something about Walton losing the Lakers' locker room.
No reason to name the motormouth. Unlike ESPN, I'm not going to give this guy more publicity, which is something he needs more than air and water.
I'm only going to share this priceless response from Walton when he was asked about the situation on Sunday.
4. Georgia-Florida Fight Club
I could not find a fan fight video last weekend, but don't fret. Players from the Georgia-Florida high school football all-star game did a remarkable job filling in for drunken fans.
Players from that game threw so many punches during this encounter that the game has to be canceled in the third quarter in Clayton County, Ga.
I don't have word on the recruiting status of players from this game -- or if anybody's scholarship will be pulled. Don't count on it.
5. Lane Kiffin Unplugged
Who's not afraid of Nick Saban?
Lane Kiffin, that's who, which is likely one reason Kiffin is no longer Saban's offensive coordinator.
Eyebrows raised across college football Sunday during the buildup to the Alabama-Georgia college football national championship game when Saban said that he did not yell at his assistants very much.
(Pause for laughter.)
coach Nick Saban: “I don’t yell at my assistants very much at all…” Are these real quotes? I don't get upset at my coaches much???? We tell our players to control their emotions during the game bc when emotions go up decision making goes down but.... RTR https://t.co/EurFYX2hzw— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) January 7, 2018
Nobody had to call Kiffin for comment. Kiffin, head coach at Florida Atlantic, provided the only necessary comment in this tweet. Yes, I believe that is a Pinocchio emoji.
6. College Football Into a Ditch?
The television ratings for the Georgia-Alabama national title game Monday night will be spun, folded and mutilated for the rest of the week.
Some have predicted a ratings plunge, concerned the game won't have major appeal outside the Southeastern Conference. Others argue that even without a playoff representative from the Big Ten or Pac-12 the concerns are overblown because the game matches the two best teams.
Dan Wolken of USA Today added another angle of concern for college football -- the outrageous salaries being paid to assistant coaches while players continue to work for tuition, books and board.
Wolken wrote that in the aftermath of Arizona's dismissal of Rich Rodriguez (and Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss) that he has learned at least two more coaches will be confronted with sexual misconduct issues. No names -- yet.
7. Giving Credit to Mark Richt
Mark Richt erred badly when he put his hands on an official and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the first half of Miami’s Orange Bowl loss to Wisconsin.
Richt knew it. He owned it. Richt apologized for it.
Richt is not a guy known for snark, cheap shots or losing his cool. Generally, you'll find him on the high road. Richt showed up on the high road over the weekend, too.
Richt and his staff recruited Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and other veterans on the Georgia team that will play Alabama before he was fired two years ago.
Richt will be firmly in the Bulldogs' camp Monday night, sharing his love for his former team on Twitter.
Good luck to the Dawgs tonight! I’m happy for the players, coaches, and the Georgia people! U Family!— Mark Richt (@MarkRicht) January 8, 2018
8. Weekly Donovan Mitchell Highlights
Former U of L star Donovan Mitchell continues his march toward serious NBA Rookie of the Year consideration.
Nearly halfway through his rookie season, Mitchell, not Ben Simmons of Philadelphia, is the top scorer among rookies at 18.2 per game. Mitchell also ranks first in free throw percentage, sixth in assists, second in steals and fifth in minutes in rookie competition.
Every week Mitchell provides at least one Did You See That? moment.
9. Weekly Podcast Recommendation
I can't promise this will become a weekly Muse feature. But I can promise to try to work it into the rotation.
As a committed daily walker of my 1-year-old Labrador retriever (typically twice a day), I'm always looking for the Next Great Podcast to hold my attention.
I'm willing to sample nearly anything -- from sports to culture to business to news. When I find one I like, I'll binge.
My current binge is Origins by James Andrew Miller, the author of the most exhaustive book written about ESPN.
Origins Season One featured a dive into Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David's relentlessly neurotic HBO comedy series.
For Season Two, Miller switched to his sweet spot -- ESPN. I just listened to Season Two, Episode Two -- a look behind the birth and success of "Pardon The Interruption," the Tony Kornheiser/Michael Wilbon sports argument show that has proven anything is possible in TV for more than 16 years.
If you're a PTI fan, you'll love this podcast. (The link.)
10. Poll Results
Where will the Louisville basketball team finish in the ACC race this season?
Seventh or eighth -- 31.5 percent
Fifth or sixth -- 29.8 percent
Ninth or worse -- 29.6 percent
Top Four -- 9.1 percent.
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