UNC Now

Roy Williams and David Padgett: tall mics and hard goodbyes

David Padgett is tall, by any standard, but especially for a college basketball coach.

At 6-11, the Louisville interim coach needs to extend the microphone at the lectern for his post-game press conference as far as it can go.

That leads to an interesting, an often amusing (notably this one), juxtaposition with the coach that follows Padgett in the media room.

UNC coach Roy Williams, about 11 inches shorter than Padgett, had his turn on Saturday night at the KFC Yum! Center media room.

He walked into the press conference and up to the lectern. He looked up at the microphone above his head.

“David already been in here?” Williams quipped.

Williams and Padgett have some history together. Padgett had committed to play for Williams at Kansas in 2003.

Williams ended up taking the UNC job. He said on Saturday the two hardest things about leaving Kansas after 15 seasons was telling his players and that recruiting class, which also included Omar Wilkes and J.R. Giddens.

“I thought David was going to be a fantastic player for us,” Williams said. “He’s one of the best runners and I’ve always loved big guys that really run.”

Padgett played for one season at Kansas before he decided to transfer to Louisville and play for coach Rick Pitino.

After a standout playing career for Pitino and the Cardinals, which ironically ended with a loss to Williams and UNC in the Elite Eight in 2008, Padgett got into coaching.

He was an assistant at IUPUI and then for Pitino at Louisville. When Pitino was fired in September after an FBI probe alleged Louisville, through an adidas executive, paid a recruit; Padgett was promoted to interim coach.

Williams voiced his support for Padgett’s full-time candidacy after UNC’s 93-76 win on Saturday.

“It’s a hard situation but we talked a couple of times on the phone and I told him I was very proud of him,” Williams said. “But he doesn’t need my approval because he’s David and he’s going to do a great job here.

“Hopefully, they’ll see what he’s done with the club and let him stay here for a long time.”

Padgett has Louisville (18-9, 8-6 ACC) in position to make the NCAA tournament, despite the exit of Pitino and top recruit Brian Bowen.

Saturday’s loss, the worst in the history of the KFC Yum! Center likely didn’t help Padgett’s cause. Neither did a 29-point loss to Kentucky on Dec. 29.

Louisville also needs to hire a new athletic director. A combination of recent scandals cost former AD Tom Jurich his job in October.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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