Louisville Basketball off to a rough start; can they make a comeback?


The UofL basketball team has almost an entirely new array of players, along with their new coach. Photo courtesy of Cardinal Athletics

Morgan Schmidt

After the firing of former Head Coach Chris Mack last season, Louisville Basketball has been at an all-time low. After months of deliberating who would fill the open spot, the school settled on the hire of former player and New York Knicks Assistant Coach Kenny Payne in late March 2022. 

Payne rebuilt the roster almost entirely; only 6 players returned from the previous season including Sydney Curry, El Ellis, Mike James, Jae’Lyn Withers, J.J. Traynor and Roosevelt Wheeler. Former Tennessee player Brandon Huntley- Hatfield joined the mix along with three 2022 prospects- Fabio Basili, Kamari Lands and Devin Ree. 

Before signing the prospects the point-guard and forward position lacked depth but the signing of all three prospects allowed for rotation of the positions effectively. 

Even with the additions in the offseason there were a significant number of players who made an exit from the program. The 21-22 season for Malik Williams, Mason Faulkner and Jarrod West was their last; while Gabe Wizntizer, Samuell Williamson, Matt Cross, Noah Locke and Dre Davis entered the transfer portal. 

“It was just a very unusual situation with all the coaching stuff that happened this season, But they made a pretty quick decision on hiring a new coach, and that will help a lot of us start to figure out our plans.” Dre Davis said on the topic of players entering the transfer portal. 

Preseason polls didn’t look the best for the Cards but it wasn’t as bad as the current 0-7 start to Payne’s debut season with the team. Louisville is currently last in the ACC and their schedule does not get any easier from here on out. 

The Cards average 58 points a game, El Ellis leading the team with an average of 17.5 points per game and Jae’Lyn Withers next in line averaging 8.7 points a game. The main issue Louisville seems to experience is their turnovers. In the seven games played they have accumulated 118 turnovers, a majority coming from their top scorer El Ellis. 

This start has gotten a rise out of fans, most taking to social media to release their frustrations. Eric Gaddas on twitter stated “It hurts me to see where this program is and scares me to see the direction it’s headed. These dudes won’t win 5 games.” 

“I think as a team they haven’t been playing good and it’s very disappointing to watch, I’m not sure what’s wrong but I know individually they have good players.” Scarlett Frisbie (10, J&C) said. 

“I’m learning who I can trust and who I can’t trust. I need a group of guys that will fight. I have a great group of kids, but I need them to fight. There’s a sentiment amongst themselves that there’s a black cloud. There’s not no black cloud. You determine the black cloud. You determine how you get out of it and get out from under it. And we’re going to get there. I feel 1,000 percent sure of that. That’s a part of my job is to push them to reach higher heights, to be better people, to be better players, to understand the importance of being a great teammate, not just a good teammate, and to play winning basketball.” Coach Payne said following the team’s loss to Texas Tech in the Maui Invitational.

The quote from Payne suggests that the team is still rebuilding, and he believes they will get to being a great basketball team again, leaving hope for the fans who have struggled with the outcomes of the season so far. 

“It doesn’t feel good how we have started this season, they will do better, just have to keep fighting.” said Aenias McGilbra (11, HSU), perfectly capturing what Payne hopes to achieve. 

Louisville still has 24 games left in the regular season, leaving time for the team to continue to improve towards their first win this season and for Kenny Payne to achieve the milestone of his first victory as head coach.