‘Establishing a Culture’ is the Theme for the Cards at Media Day
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Talking season continued at UofL today as the men’s basketball team held its first media day under brand new head coach, Kenny Payne. Coach Payne spoked to the media for about 30 minutes on Thursday afternoon, shortly after that it was picture day for the Cards. Payne’s biggest motivation for this team is making them realize that in order to defeat an opponent...your strength must come from within. “I can’t talk about another team. I can’t talk about an opponent until I get players to conquer themselves. We get players to conquer themselves then we can talk about being a unit and caring for each other, protecting each other, and being a team. Then we can talk about an opponent,” said Payne. “Conquering yourself” for the players means a variety of things, but most of them say it means self confidence. “Really, just have confidence. Have confidence, you know. When we’re on the court just play. Have fun, you know, and just not think so much,” said senior captain El Ellis.
This is a team that went though a lot last season. Then, head coach Chris Mack was suspended at the start of the season before being let go midway through the season. As Payne takes over the program, one of the things he’s been charged with doing is instilling confidence into the players. “Kenny Payne: they’re being challenged and some of them are embracing it and some of them are more like, ‘This is a lot.’ You only can tell what character is through adverse situations, and that’s what we’re trying to do, establish who we are as players,” said Payne. As for the players themselves, it’s a totally different atmosphere. “It’s a lot more different now. I would say that we have a sense of culture around the building, honestly around the campus,” said red shirt junior captain Jae’lyn Withers. For red shirt freshman Mike James last year was especially difficult because not only did he suffer through the coaching drama, he was also dealing with an injury that kept him out for the whole season. “It was unbelievable. Like, at times I would feel like I was in a movie. Like, is this really happening? So, it was a roller coaster, but you know it’s in the past. I’m just looking forward to what we have now,” said James.
One of the things Kenny Payne is trying to re-introduce around the program is family, especially by welcoming some of the former players back in to the mix, but that’s not the only family dynamic on the team by a long stretch. Coach Payne has welcomed quite a few new faces into the program, one of those being his own son, Zan who transferred to UofL from UK. Father and son say being reunited has felt good so far. “I can say this, Zan texted me about a week ago and said, ‘Dad, thank you. Thank you for riding me and pushing me to be better. I feel myself getting better, my confidence is growing. I feel like if I can get in a little better shape, I can help you win.’ said Kenny Payne. “You know he’s always going to be hard on me and the team. So, you know, he just wants us to be in the best shape possible and everything. So, it should be good,” said Zan Payne.
Cards fans will have multiple times this weekend to checkout their team. Friday at Louisville Live at Louisville Slugger Field, and the Red-White scrimmage at the KFC Yum! Center at three o’clock on Sunday.
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