With Horrendous Performances and Koron Davis Controversy, Should Louisville Coach Kenny Payne Be Sacked?

Published 12/14/2023, 7:50 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

The Louisville Cardinals are positioned at the last spot in the Atlantic Coast and have a horrendous 4-6 tally. They have emerged victorious in only four of their games against the Bellarmine Knights, the New Mexico State Aggies, the Coppin State Eagles and the UMBC Retrievers.

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They couldn’t end the remaining matches on a positive note. And their difficulties do not only end here. 

The Controversy

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The program was mired in complications when their guard Koron Davis was dismissed by the program. 

“Prior to the program issuing a statement this afternoon, Louisville junior guard Koron Davis was informed that he had been dismissed from the men’s basketball team, Davis has expressed that he intends to continue his college basketball career and would pursue opportunities at another institution. We wish him nothing but the best.” the statement read as per Sports Illustrated.

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The Louisville had previously released a statement earlier on Wednesday that Davis had expressed his interest in transferring to another team.

“University of Louisville junior guard Koron Davis has informed the program that he intends to transfer, We support him and wish him well in the future.” the previous statement had read.

Meanwhile, Davis who hadn’t been off the bench during any game in the regular season had called the posts by the U of Louisville “disheartening and sad” through his social media networking site X account. Davis stated that he had never expressed any desire to transfer and instead “I enjoy being a Cardinal.”

This was not the first time that a rift had appeared between Davis and uOfL.

The Seed Of Rift

On November 1, a week before the commencement of the regular season, rumors started to circulate that Davis had had a physical altercation with the head coach Kenny Payne. The hearsay went so strong that the program had to release a statement denying the brawl.

“There was and has been no incident at basketball practice,” SID Zach Greenwell divulged as per Sports illustrated, “UofL had an open practice for athletic department staff with dozens in attendance, this is completely false.”

However, the gossip intensified when Davis did not have any game time during the first two games against the UMBC Retrievers and the Chattanooga Mocs. While the Cardinals edged past against the Retrievers during their season opener by a 94-93 margin, the Payne-coached team found themselves in trouble during the next game and were defeated by a humiliating 71-81 margin.

And this loss was just the beginning of what was to come in the following games. For their third contest, the Cardinals did emerge victorious against the Coppin State by a respectable 61-41 margin, Davis was however absent during the match and Payne had remarked that while Davis was not in any “trouble”, it was the coach’s decision to keep him “home.

A String Of Defeats

The Lousiville program had barely made it out of the controversy that they lost six of the 10 games they played with the most recent loss coming against the Arkansas State Red Wolves. It was their third consecutive defeat.

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Their first two in this streak had come against the Virginia Tech Hokies and the DePaul Blue Demons. The Cardinals had a lackluster performance in all these three matches as they were upended by 68-75, 68-75 and 63-75 margins.

Additionally, they had also lost their previous games against the Texas Longhorns and the Indiana Hoosiers. While the Hoosiers beat them by a close 80-81 margin, the Longhorns decimated them by a 66-74 tally. All this not only mounted pressure on the Cardinals but has also slimmed their chances of qualifying for the playoffs. 

Though the margins have been quite close a repeated failure on their part has raised questions on their coach Kenny Payne.

Should Kenny Payne be sacked?

Payne was appointed in the capacity of a coach in March, 2022 and finished the season with only four wins. This is a record for the worst tally by any Louisville coach in modern times. And Payne doesn’t seem to have learned from his previous season.

This season too the team has repeated the same mistakes and is standing at the last position in the Atlantic coast rankings. 

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There has been an uproar by fans with many suggesting to sack Payne and appoint another head coach. With Payne’s performances it is quite evident that as of now he hasn’t done the program any good.

This can also be attributed to the fact that this is his first head coaching assignment since previously he was an assistant at the New York Knicks.

Plus a complete miscommunication has been found on the part of Payne with regards to the Davis case. Maybe the Cardinals have lost a great guard as Davis averaged a whopping 23.8 points with 6.7 rebounds during his time with the LA Southwest as a sophomore.

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The Lousiville will have to sort out their issues as soon as possible if Payne wants to continue his position. But going by the current form if things persist in the same way, then firing the 57-year-old will be the only option left for the KFC Yum! Center team.

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Written by:

Ritvan Pande

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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo

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