The Louisville Cardinals got their first road win in the Kenny Payne era on Wednesday night, as they beat the Miami Hurricanes in an 80-71 victory. Payne looks to be dead in the water when it comes to retaining his job next season, but it looks like Louisville will keep him at least till the end of this season. Payne, at this point, is fighting for his job, and while it is mostly set in stone that he will lose his job, if the Cardinals win more games maybe that narrative can be changed.
This all starts will ending January on a high note.
Louisville currently enters with a 6-9 (1-3) record, and has games vs. NC State, at #7 North Carolina, at Wake Forest, vs. #11 Duke, vs. Virginia, and at Clemson. Now Louisville will likely not be favored in any of these games, and to win any of them would be a sign of accomplishment. However, for argument's sake, let's say Louisville wins 5 or 6 of these games, does Payne get more job security?
Yes, yes he should, and if Louisville starts to win then there should be no worries about Payne as the head coach. However, Payne has a 10-37 record at Louisville, so that is simply not going to do it. But if miraculously, Louisville wins out in January, then Payne needs to be given some credit, and depending on how February and March go, he would need to be evaluated further.
I am not saying Payne will lead Louisville to any more wins in January, but it is interesting to think about where this team could be if they were to rattle off some serious wins. They proved that they could win against good competition when they played Miami. But the big question is can they be consistent with their level of basketball play? That question will be answered as we get deeper and deeper into ACC play.
The Cardinals have the toughest stretch of basketball ahead of them in January, and if they can pull off some serious upsets then who knows what the future of Louisville basketball can hold.
I understand the Payne critics, and I often am one, but if the team starts to win then you have to give Kenny his due, even if you were ultimately wrong in the end. In all likelihood, Louisville might win just a few more ACC games based on Payne's resume here at Louisville and he will be let go in March. However, if the Cards start to win some games then that might not be the case.
January will be the most important month of the Kenny Payne tenure at Louisville, and only time will tell how this team will respond to winning, and if they can sustain it.