Louisville Basketball is (For Now) Headed in The Right Direction

Nov 19, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Skyy Clark (55) goes to the basket against Texas Longhorns forward Ze'Rik Onyema (21) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 19, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Skyy Clark (55) goes to the basket against Texas Longhorns forward Ze'Rik Onyema (21) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 19, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Ty-Laur Johnson (4) goes to the basket against Texas Longhorns forward Brock Cunningham (30) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 19, 2023; New York, New York, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Ty-Laur Johnson (4) goes to the basket against Texas Longhorns forward Brock Cunningham (30) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

Louisville looked like a different team yesterday, and they to sustain it

The Kenny Payne era had its best showing yesterday when the Louisville Cardinals faced the #19 Texas Longhorns and lost 81-80. I know it might seem odd to say a loss was a teams best outing in 2 years, but it’s true.

Payne had his players ready to play and they gave Texas everything they could handle. What was most impressive was the way that the Cardinals outrebounded Texas, and was able to create and make shots. Louisville hasn’t really ran the best (or any) sets under Payne, but they seemed to do it flawlessly yesterday against the Longhorns. I don’t know if it they just figured out how to play as a team, or Payne gave them a huge speech before the game, but they looked like a totally different basketball team.

Louisville should have won the game, and if it wasn’t for Max Abmas’s amazing fadeaway jumper, then the Cardinals would be celebrating Kenny Payne’s first top 25 win.

Payne even seemed more outspoken in his post game presser today:

"We did a good job of defending them for a lot of the game, but in the end, when you give offensive rebounds to teams like that, it’s going to eventually come back and get you head . Like I’ve said all along, I like my team. It was the first semblance we’ve had all year of the way we look in practice, and that’s the team I want to show up every night. We’re not perfect, we’ve got a long way to go, but we have the components to cause people problems."

Payne sounds like a coach that believes that his team can compete at the highest level, but also knows that if they don’t play together well, then they can’t win games. It is a lot more refreshing than the “culture talk” he has said since he was hired.

Payne has not completely won me over to the side of believing that he can get Louisville basketball to where it should be. But if he starts to pile up some wins, then maybe he is the hometown hero we all thought he was when he was hired.