It was a search that had Louisville fans and most of the country puzzled about who would be the missing piece to fit into a broken program. That piece happened to be former Louisville player, now head basketball coach, Kenny Payne.
Cut from the Cardinals cloth
Coach Payne was the ideal hire for Louisville basketball because it was close to home for a program that sorely misses the national spotlight. The same national spotlight that Payne helped magnify during his playing days in Freedom Hall for Coach Denny Crum from 1985-1989. During his playing career the Cards won a national championship in 1986. Someone familiar could indeed be the likely antidote to quiet down a restless fanbase.
Additionally, this should bring back feelings of nostalgia for veteran Cards fans. Louisville missed the NCAA tournament this season and the buzz locally has been missing this March. Seeing a former champion who prowls the sidelines should give Louisville basketball fans a sense of renewed confidence about things to come.
Experience by trade
In case some are wondering, no, Kenny Payne has never been a head coach. However, the man was a 1st round NBA draft pick. He has extensive experience coaching as an assistant at schools such as Oregon and Kentucky, combined with his recent role as an assistant for the New York Knicks. Clearly, Kenny Payne has the coaching pedigree to make his mark in The Yum! Center.
Ponder this for a moment, no first time head coach can gain credibility until they finally receive their proverbial “shot”. Look out West at what Tommy Lloyd is doing at Arizona right now. They are still dancing right into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Lloyd coached under Gonzaga’s Mark Few for basically two decades. All they did in Spokane was win games.
Couldn’t Kenny Payne make the same kind of splash at his alma mater? I think he can.