The Louisville Cardinals were heartbroken on Sunday night after the NCAA Tournament selection committee elected to leave them out of March Madness in 2018. A report surfaced Monday that the players had voted to skip the NIT in a show of frustration.
On Monday afternoon, Louisville coach David Padgett addressed the media and the player vote was a major topic of conversation. Stunningly, Padgett didn’t deny any of it, though he did stop short of providing a full account of what went on.
“I’m sure they did have conversations among themselves in the last however many days,” Padgett said when asked about the vote. “As soon as the show was over [Sunday night] us coaches came back to the office and waited for the 8:30 show to start to find out who we were going to play [in the NIT].
“The players spent a lot of time at their dorm. Initially I think the players — it’s disappointing, and unless you’ve ever been in that situation and, unfortunately, I’ve been in it twice now because I was on the NIT team back in 2006, even if you think you’re not going to miss the tournament until you know for sure it’s a sting.”
When pressed further and asked point-blank whether he thinks his players want to play, Padgett continued to dance around, going into particulars while dropping some hints that there may be some truth in the reports.
“I think initially everybody was really disappointed that they didn’t make the NCAAs, so you’re not gonna say, ‘Oh yeah. Let’s get excited to play in the NIT.’ As competitors … it doesn’t work that way. It’s no knock on the NIT. It’s a great tournament and has been for a long time,” Padgett said.
Padgett later was asked whether anybody had to convince the team to play in its NIT opening-round matchup against Northern Kentucky. Padgett admitted that he had to “lift their spirits” but stopped short of divulging the actual details of the conversation and what the players expressed to him.
We may never find out exactly what happened with the players on Sunday night and Monday morning, but Padgett repeatedly deferred to the players about the content of whatever meeting “may or may not have” taken place. So perhaps media availability with Louisville this week will provide some answers.