Louisville Interim Head Coach David Padgett spoke on Wednesday in Charlotte for the ACC’s Operation Basketball Event. Here is the transcript of what he said:
Q. Your new hire of Greg Paulus, what you can say about why you brought him in and why he was the right fit for your program?
COACH PADGETT: Greg obviously has a very well-respected reputation, not only as a coach but as a player. Played in this league, was very successful in this league.
He came very highly recommended even before I had permission to start hiring people. Greg and I have known each other off and on just from being on the recruiting trail and whatnot.
But he’s going to be a great addition for our players. Like I said, he’s played at this level. He’s proven himself on the court, that players can relate to him. And he has experience coaching as well at this level at Ohio State. So he’s a great addition. I was very lucky to get him.
Q. Q and Anas talked this morning about how your style resonates and went as far as saying he went from coming into the Yum! Center and avoiding your boss to walking in and seeing your dad. What is it about your style that resonates so much with these guys?
COACH PADGETT: I think just having been in their shoes before, obviously not in these circumstances, but having sat in that locker room, having worn that uniform. Let’s make no mistake, Adonis has never been a fan of practice. He’s more of a gamer. We always kid about that. Just trying to make the best of a difficult situation for the players.
I think it was a tough week, tough couple of weeks there for a while when all this started going down. And I just wanted them to focus on basketball, kind of block out the noise, per se, and just kind of enjoy what they’re at the university to do. That’s go to class, be a student-athlete and play basketball. I just wanted them to enjoy that experience.
Because at the end of the day and at the end of this year, they’re not going to be able to get that season back. I don’t want them to have any regrets, and I want them to enjoy what we do and enjoy the process.
Q. With your program this year, will small victories mean maybe a little more this year compared to previous seasons?
COACH PADGETT: I don’t think any victory means more or less, to be honest. I think we’re just trying to put ourselves in a position to win as many games as we can. Our goal so far the first three weeks of practice has been, okay, today we need to be better than we were yesterday. And when we get to the games, okay, tonight we need to be better than we were last time out.
So we really are just taking that one-day-at-a-time approach here. Because like I told our guys, we can’t worry about what the future has in store, because we can’t control that.
All we can control is our present and what’s in front of us, and if we control and take care of the present, the future will take care of itself.
Q. A lot of people have talked about just the talent that you have on this roster. And as you said as you worked through things and kind of get into the season, where do you see the potential and does any of that change with a new coaching staff and kind of trying to overcome what’s going on?
COACH PADGETT: Well, there’s no doubt we have talent. We have a lot of returning experienced players. Obviously Anas and Quentin, two senior captains who have been through a lot. Quentin has basically started every game since he was midway through his freshman year.
And Deng Adel, our third tri-captain who put his name early in the draft process last year and took it out because he got good feedback that he probably needed to stay for one more year. We’ve got those three.
We’ve got Ray Spalding, who has been a different player since the end of last season, and mean that in a positive way. And V.J. King is bound for a breakout year in my opinion.
Our freshmen, they’re very talented. They’re young, they’re freshmen. They haven’t been through this before but the only way to get them experience is to have them go through it. So we have the talent. We seem to be a very close-knit unit, they seem to pull from each other.
It’s not a case where older guys are trying to separate themselves from the younger guys or something because everybody in the locker room knows we need all 14 players to win it at some point this year. They’ve done an unbelievable job of staying together and motivating each other.
And I guess at the end of the day just comes down to me trying to put them in the right position to do the right things.
But they’ve just made my job easier because our experienced players know what to do so I don’t have to coach them quite as hard as I will the freshmen. So it’s been a little easier for me in that regard.
Q. Will you make changes stylistically offensively and defensively in what Coach Pitino ran or will you run essentially the same things?
COACH PADGETT: A lot will be the same for a couple of reasons. One is our returning players that’s what they’re familiar with. All this went down as you all know three or four days before practice was supposed to start.
I would be crazy to come in and change things like I said because the returning players were familiar with it. The incoming guys came there to play that style. And it’s been pretty successful for the University of Louisville over the last 16 years. It’s what I played in. It’s what I’ve worked in.
But at the same time I’ll do things differently where I see fit. Our practice plans every day aren’t exactly the same as what they used to be. I add wrinkles here and there, do different things maybe I picked up along the way playing at a different spot or for a different coach.
A majority of it will be the same. Wrinkles here and there might be a little different. But at the end of the day effort will always be there and defense will always be there because that’s what our staple is.
Q. Has there been any situation in your life previously where you encountered a stressful situation and you overcame it that you can apply to what you’re doing with now?
COACH PADGETT: I actually talked to the team about that early on. My recruiting situation and the reason I ended up at Louisville, it’s kind of funny, is I was recruited by Coach Williams, Roy Williams out of high school.
I signed my letter of intent when he was at Kansas. I went through my senior season and at the end of my senior season that spring, after they lost the national championship game, obviously he goes to North Carolina.
So I’ll never forget, I was standing at home, got out of school my mom comes home and says: Have you seen what’s going on. I said, no, what are you talking about? We turned on the TV. Long story short we know what happens. Well, it’s just the unknown. From the time we knew that Coach Williams left to the time we knew Coach Self was hired, it’s the unknown and it’s tough.
That was my biggest concern at first. The players need to be reassured that something good is going to happen that will help them have a good year.
And I also, my second concern besides them was their parents. I spent a significant amount of that first week talking to parents, just trying to — they had a lot of questions for me that I simply didn’t have the answers to.
I said, look, I’ll keep you guys afloat of everything that’s going on as best I can and keep you in the loop. But we’ve just got to stay patient here for a couple of days and see what happens.
Q. Obviously the guys talk about how much more fun and more relaxed the practice is, referring to you as DP. How do you strike that balance between them being comfortable and letting their hair down and focusing on basketball and still being that authority figure and being able to crack the whip and provide discipline if you need?
COACH PADGETT: Quentin would probably say that practice is more relaxed because they don’t give me too much of a reason to get on them. Probably should have brought a couple of freshmen up here; they probably would say a little different. If they give me a reason to get on them I will. But if they don’t, I won’t.
Effort is something I haven’t had to coach very much in practice so far this year, which has been really good. Obviously Xs and Os, sometimes guys not listening or not — for example, the biggest thing freshmen struggle with, I think any coach will tell you this, is listening, especially when a coach is correcting someone that’s not them.
Because you never know if I say something to Lance Thomas and Malik Williams isn’t paying attention and they both play the same position, I don’t want to have to repeat myself twice. It’s little things like that that they’ll learn.
Again, I just walk into practice and say we need to get better. If I don’t think they’re bringing the energy or focus that they need I will let them know. But if they just do what they’re supposed to do, then there’s no reason for me to get on them.
Q. You’ve been an assistant for the last couple of years, which means you’ve stayed seated during the games. What will your personality be like on the sideline now that you get to stand for a little while?
COACH PADGETT: I think that’s a million-dollar question. I guess we’ll find out on Monday in our first exhibition game. I really don’t know. I’m not going to be someone who is up and down, walking up the sidelines the entire 40 minutes.
I need to sit down once in a while or I’ll get tired. But I think it’s just going to be a learning process for me as well. I don’t think there’s any denying that. It’s no secret I’ve never been a head coach before.
I told our guys the very first time I met with them, look, there’s going to be a lot of things I do well that you like and a lot of things I don’t do well and make mistakes. We’ll all have to learn from. It’s just going to be part of the process. But we’ve got to take it one day at a time.
Monday, I’m curious to see, see how they react to me on the sidelines, a different voice. And we just gotta go from there. But so far they’ve been — the 14 guys in our locker room have been absolutely incredible in the transition to make my job easier. So it’s been pretty good to get back to focusing on basketball so far.