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Hoopaholic Musing: More on Coach Kenny Payne

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Doc checked in Sunday morning.

Seems his son, a similarly addicted chip off the block, has been checking out message boards around the land. Where, it seems, Louisville is getting a measure of grief for hiring a fellow who has never been a head coach before.

Doc referenced Michigan’s JuWan Howard and Memphis State’s Penny Hardaway, alums at their schools who seem to be doing fairly well.

To which I responded with one thing that duo has in common staff-wise.

An experienced old head in the next chair. Phil Martelli for the Wolverines. Larry Brown for the Tigers.

In addition, IU grad Mike Woodson has Thad Matta in the program, as director of basketball ops or something.

Which is to reiterate, one fan’s hope is that when Kenny Payne is assembling his staff he does the same. An available guy, like Bruce Weber or someone of that ilk. A seasoned veteran.

* * * * *

It will be no surprise if Coach Kenny Payne takes his time in naming his staff.

First, he indicated so at the press conference.

Second, if you recall his recruitment, Payne was a late signee in what was regarded at the time as U of L’s best recruiting class ever.

Already signed on the line were consensus HSAA Tony Kimbro and Keith Williams, also from Seneca. Kevin Walls as part of the World Wide Wes/ Clarence Turner Camden connection. David Robinson and Avery Marshall. And some skinny kid nobody had ever heard of, Pervis Ellison.

Highly sought after, it was generally believed, at least in these parts, that KP was Lexington bound. Mississippi State was also in the mix, as the Cards’ new mentor mentioned Friday.

Weeks after the others were inked, when the dust settled so to speak, Payne opted for the Cards.

I specifically recall my reaction. (Four Letter Word Alert.) “Holy shit, we got Kenny Payne too.”

The point: He took his time. No reason not to expect the same viz a viz his assistants.

* * * * *

It was not a surprise that, soon after my comment welcoming the new coach and his family at the Payne presser, I got a text from Sportsbee, accusing me of sucking up to the new coach.

Which, hey, isn’t a bad thing, let’s be honest.

Sportsbee, an old business associate from back when, obviously still harbors a deep seated resentment.

Because of this stat: 1083.

That’s how many points Kenny Payne scored as a Cardinal. Meaning Sportsbee lost his bet with me that the Mississippian would tally 1000+ for his career. The ten spot is long spent. Not the reminders when Payne’s name has come up through the years.

Another stat, that might be of interest only to me. From beyond the arc, KP hit 40% (85/212).

* * * * *

In the summer of ‘89, I attended a Sportscaster Fantasy Camp at Loyola Marymount. The NBA summer league was being played there. Kenny Payne was participating.

I chatted him up.

Now he’s head coach at his alma mater. And I get to cover the Cardinals.

Whodathunkit?

Pretty cool.

Not that I’ll be expecting a call with my input on his staff choices.

* * * * *

A couple peripheral observations:

The governor, who, it must be observed, was in too-much-coffee-political-rally hypervoice, was wearing jeans. I like that.

Josh Heird has been attached at the hip to KP since he arrived.

As well he should be. Good for him. He closed the deal in a classy manner. Let him bask in reflected glory.

During his intro Friday, Heird cleverly and subtly tooted his own horn. Good for him.

At one point he made a statement about the choice of Payne, which applies, one guy’s opinion, to his interim status, and the fellow who would like that descriptor removed from his title.

“Sometime, when the answer is staring you in the face, you have to stop asking questions.”

To Ms. President (Interim) and the Decision Makers: Hire Josh Heird now.

— c d kaplan