Louisville Basketball: Should Kenny Payne Be Fired?
It’s not very common to hear about a coach being on the hot seat just one year into his tenure. That just goes to show how rough things have gotten for Louisville Basketball since Kenny Payne took the reins ahead of the 2022-23 season. The hot seat chatter was reignited two nights ago after Louisville fell to Division II Kentucky Wesleyan in a televised exhibition game, 71-68. It was the Cardinals’ second exhibition loss to a Division II program in as many years, following their season-opening loss to Lenoir-Rhyne to open Payne’s tenure.
Kenny Payne’s Rough Postgame Presser
Payne’s postgame press conference did little to inspire confidence. Referencing the Cards’ struggles on the glass against Kentucky Wesleyan, he said he needed more than two rebounds out of players like Emmanuel Okorafor. It was a strange criticism considering Okorafor didn’t play in the game. Don’t worry, it gets worse. Kenny Payne went on to say:
“We can’t beat teams with talent. We’re never going to be the most talented team. Beat them with fight.”
Let’s break this down, because it’s thoroughly incorrect.
“We can’t beat teams with talent. We’re never going to be the most talented team.” Set aside the fact that he’s saying this after losing to a Division II program that finished around .500 last year and was picked to finish eighth in their conference ahead of this season. That’s a brutal statement coming from someone who was hired for his supposed recruiting prowess, from someone who is quite literally supposed to beat teams with talent.
“Beat them with fight.” Coming off a campaign that produced just four total victories, this sounds like pathetic coachspeak. Louisville is 1-2 against Division II opponents since Kenny Payne was hired. The Cardinals aren’t beating anyone with fight.
Are Payne’s Days Numbered?
The real question is how many wins it would take for Kenny Payne to secure his job for another season. Another year of single-digit victories simply isn’t going to cut it. Louisville is not some underdog program, despite what some of Payne’s postgame comments would indicate. The school has a rich basketball history and multiple national titles (even if you don’t count the vacated one in 2013). Fans are losing their patience.
Kenny Payne is running out of time to right the ship. He was supposed to be the solution to the instability created by Rick Pitino and then Chris Mack, but he has produced nothing but disappointment. If this season is anything like the last, we could be seeing yet another coaching change at Louisville.
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