LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The arduous 2021-22 season for the Louisville men’s basketball program is finally over.
The Cardinals were able to hold off Georgia Tech long enough for an 84-74 win Tuesday night in the first round, but that was followed up by a 51-50 defeat Wednesday night at the hands of Virginia.
Louisville ends their year with an overall record of 13-19, their first losing season since Hall of Fame head coach Denny Crum’s final year at the helm in 2000-01 when they finished 12-19. It’s also their first season without a double-digit scorer since 1943-44.
Now that the Cardinals’ tumultuous year is officially in the books, the gears are now set in motion for a bevy of changes within the program. That being said, what exactly is the timeline fans should come to expect from the program in the coming days, weeks, and even months?
With former head coach Chris Mack’s departure from the show back in late January, many fans have been laser focused on who will be the next coach ever since. But there will be moving parts before that is even decided.
We already know that Malik Williams, Jarrod West and Mason Faulkner won’t be coming back due to running out of eligibility. Noah Locke is on the fence as well after going through Senior Day activities.
But don’t be surprised to see some transfer portal activity in the 24-72 hours following the end of Louisville’s season. After all, last season Aidan Igiehon entered the portal the day after Selection Sunday.
Now, let’s shift gears to the coaching search. When exactly should we expect Louisville to officially name their next head coach? Well, it really depends on who they are zeroing in on.
Interim athletic director Josh Heird told Jeff Greer on the “Floyd Street’s Finest” podcast that, while this was not a definitive timeline, Louisville would ideally like to have a coach “named close to the conclusion of our season,” so that whoever they bring in can hit the ground running.
It goes without saying that, with this ideal timeline, signs point to Kenny Payne as the next coach. Currently an assistant with the New York Knicks, Payne doesn’t have the obligations that other candidates do when it comes to their teams. Guys such as Baylor’s Scott Drew or UCLA’s Mick Cronin would have to wait until the end of their respective NCAA Tournament runs to engage in talks with Louisville regarding position.
If Payne is indeed the next guy, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Louisville get a deal done with him within 7-10 days following the end of their season. But, if another candidate enters the ring, and there is interest on both sides, don’t be surprised to see this process carry on until at least the weekend of the Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight.
Once a new coach is in place, something to monitor next will be the decisions of Louisville verbal commits Kamari Lands and Kaleb Glenn. While they did say they planned on sticking to their commitments to Cardinals, those decisions are contingent on who the incoming coach is.
Lands said that he will see if the next staff will “come in and bring that same type of energy to the court,” while Glenn stated the he will “wait until whatever happens with the new coach and go from there.”
Something else to keep track of is if Louisville retains 2022 signees Tae Davis and Frederick King. Both have already signed their National Letters of Intent, but they can still request to be released from them, as Bobby Pettiford and Eric Van Der Heijden did last offseason.
Once the transfer portal on Louisville’s side of things slows down – and they get definitive decisions from Lands, Davis and King – then the new coach can start to bring in players of his own. Given that there are only ten uncommitted top 150 class of 2022 prospects left, the new coach will have to do most of their recruiting in the transfer portal.
While there are certainly going to be high quality transfer options for Louisville, their ability to actually land them, regardless of who the next coach is, might be somewhat limited. And that’s because of the NCAA.
Last month, the Courier-Journal reported that the program finally learned the hearing date for their ongoing NCAA infractions case. The problem? It isn’t until mid-June. Using the timeline from NC State’s case, and Louisville might not hear a final ruling until late October.
Much like what Mack experienced during his tenure, Louisville might have trouble landing impact transfers or recruits due to the lingering NCAA cloud. While the program should soon learn what their punishment will be, and start to finally put their drama with the NCAA behind them, until it’s resolved, that will continue to be a hinderance when it comes to landing top tier players.
What exactly will transpire over the next few days, weeks and months remains to be seen, but with Louisville’s season now in the rear view mirror, it’s only a matter of time before change starts to take place. And it all starts today.
(Photo of KFC Yum! Center: Christopher Fryer – Louisville Business First)
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism