As Kenny Payne Tries To Turn The Corner, Injuries Keep Plaguing Louisville

2024 has not been fortunate to Louisville Basketball

Louisville v Syracuse
Louisville v Syracuse / Rich Barnes/GettyImages

Louisville basketball has been sliding off the rails since the beginning of the 2023-24 season, but the unfortunate breaks Kenny Payne has faced are truly unmatched.

As of today, February 15th, Louisville currently has 7 scholorship players available, and played with just those 7 players against Boston College on Tuesday night. Louisville was up 47-39 against the Eagles at halftime in a truly impressive half. However, the Eagles outscored the Cardinals 50-30 in the final 20 minutes and the defense that was played was truly horrendous.

Now if Louisville was able to beat an ACC team with only 7 scholarship players available I would have rejoiced, because that would be a feat for any team, let alone a Louisville squad that has been troubled with winning. The fact that they were able to hang with the Eagles and be up as much as ten points, is impressive.

At the Beginning of the season Louisville had 13 scholarship players, and now in mid-february they are just down to 7, that is a loss of 6 players. Top 25 incoming freshman Dennis Evans played just 7 games after being "medically unable to return to basketball" which was a huge blow to Payne's team.

JJ Traynor also played 8 games this season averaging 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 51.6% from the field and 36.8% from three. He was then listed "out" for the rest of the season. Traynor was the "x-factor" player last season and was looking to take a major step forward this season before being injured.

Those are 2 potential starters listed as out for the year, and Payne likely lost Dennis Evans for his Cardinal career due to his injury. This on its own would have been a huge loss, but Payne lost even more players as the season went on.

Danilo Jovanovich has been listed as out for a lower leg injury and Hercy Miller returned home to California to get a surgey on his hip, and that will keep him out for the rest of the season. While Miller and Jovanovich are not key players in Payne's rotation, they would help when starters like Evans and Traynor are out for the season.

Then there is the Koron Davis situation. Davis had barely played for Louisville during the season, and then the University said he was going to transfer out but then Davis himself said he did not want to leave Louisville, and the whole situation itself is very confusing. The takeaway from the situation is that Davis will not be playing for Louisville at any point this season.

Then there is the ocasional injury that players are facing this season. Tre White was out for 2 weeks in December, and Skyy Clark will be out likley until the ACC tournament. These injuries have plagued Louisville this season, and while the play on the court has not been great, you can contribute some of that to the devastating injuries Louisville has had to face.

Louisville had no reason to lose to Chattanooga and Arkansas State at home in November and December, but when the team started to hit thier stride they did it without some of thier better players. Could Louisville have won games against Boston College and Syracuse with players like Skyy Clark and JJ Traynor? They probably could, but Payne needs to have his team ready to play no matter who is available, and for those games he did. As Louisville only lost to Syracuse by 2, and were up 8 on Boston College at halftime.

Kenny Payne has not done a good job as the Louisville head coach in the past 2 years, but there is no denying that he has had some of the worst luck in college basketball as of late. Hopefully that luck can turn around, or Payne will have no chance at helming the Cardinals in 2025.