One has to wonder, is David Padgett ready in his first gig as a head coach to step into the kleig lights that shine upon he who is roaming the sideline of a national contender.
Lou Gehrig, now there’s a guy ready to carpe diem, and carpe diem, and carpe diem. On June 1, 1925, baseball’s greatest trivia answer Wally Pipp wasn’t fit to take the field. Gehrig played first for that and the next 2,130 Yankee games.
On August 13, 1919, Upset was ready. On the Saratoga race course, the thoroughbred handed heralded Man o’ War the only defeat of his career, thereby cementing the victor’s name forever in the sports lexicon.
And Cardinal fans are certainly sure that Luke Hancock was prepared for center stage on April 8, 2013. U of L was down double digits to Michigan in the national title game. Luke knocked down a trey. Then another. Then another. Then another. After an exclamation point go ahead breakaway slam, “Just like that, in the blink of an eye, Louisville comes from 12 back and takes the lead.”
Yet rising to the occasion is never a given.
Gehrig’s debut in pinstripes was in June ’23, after which he spent some time in the minors before permanently replacing Pipp. Upset met Man o’ War six other times on the track, and lost them all. Before his MOP performance, Hancock’s debut in a Louisville uniform was less than ready for prime time. He clanked treys, got smoked often on D, and fans wondered why he was playing instead of Wayne Blackshear?
So, with all the mysteries lurking for the ’17-’18 U of L Cards — Deng Adel’s ball handling, Ray Spalding’s intensity, V.J. King’s ascension, depth, free throw shooting — there is one question above all upon which this campaign shall pivot?
Is David Padgett ready for the moment?
The peripherals seem in place for the former Cardinal big, thrust into the head coaching slot days before the beginning of preseason practice.
He is intelligent. Articulate. Apparently centered. Funny. With perspective.
In a short time, he assembled a surprisingly nifty staff of assistants.
He welcomed back former Cardinal ballers and Denny Crum, who had been designated non-entities by the his successor.
There are more than a few of U of L’s truly faithful fans, who hope he’s successful enough along the sideline to merit the job beyond temporarily.
But there’s the proverbial rub.
Will he have a play to draw up when the Cards are down 1 with :08 on the clock? Will he know when to sub and whom to sub? Will he be able to fashion a cohesive season and game plan? Will he cower or conquer in Cameron Indoor?
I’d like to say I have a sense of the answers. I do not.
We’ve got to see him work. He projects an air of victory, but no precincts have reported in.
Is he as confidant as Norma Desmond who famously proclaimed: “You see, this is my life! It always will be! Nothing else! Just us, and the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!… All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”
The journey during which the answers shall be revealed commences Monday in an exhi against Kentucky Wesleyan.
— Seedy K