Louisville basketball's Malik Williams suspended for North Carolina game

Brett Dawson
Louisville Courier Journal

Malik Williams, Louisville basketball’s leading scorer and rebounder, is suspended from the team and will miss Tuesday’s game against North Carolina. 

Louisville interim coach Mike Pegues announced the suspension Monday night on his radio show, calling the suspension "one game for now." Afterward, Pegues said the door is open for Williams to return, but that there will be stipulations for the fifth-year senior. 

"I think it starts with us sitting down and talking," Pegues told the Courier Journal. "Probably have to get his family involved. I think it’s a heart-to-heart conversation where’s there’s some stipulations in place so that everybody understands that if there’s any regression whatsoever, then it’ll become a permanent thing. Obviously we don’t want it to get to that, but we have to move forward with the right guys that are about the right things." 

Louisville player Malik Williams walks past interim head coach Mike Pegues during the game against Duke January 29, 2022.

Williams leads Louisville in scoring at 10 points per game and rebounding at 8.7 per game. He shoots 47.8% from the floor, including 56.6% on two-point shots. He’s shooting 32.8% on 2.9 3-point attempts per game. 

In announcing the suspension on his radio show, Pegues said Williams has failed to meet Louisville's standards "at different times throughout the year." Sources familiar with the team said Williams has been given multiple chances to improve his attitude, and Pegues told the Courier Journal that the suspension has been "a long time coming."  

On his radio show, Pegues said he "won’t allow one guy in that locker room to do things the wrong way," which drew applause from a crowd of Louisville fans at Roosters for the broadcast. 

Pegues left the suspension open-ended, saying on his radio show that Williams will have "every opportunity to rejoin us." 

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Pegues couldn't say for sure whether Williams wants to return.

"I don’t know that just yet," Pegues told the Courier Journal. "I think that’s a question for Malik. I would like to think that he does. I would like to think that he wants to finish the season the right way." 

 As much as any player, Williams has embodied the tumultuous nature of Louisville’s season. His public comments — critical of his team at times, cryptic about former coach Chris Mack at others — have been hot talking points. 

Perhaps no single moment caused a bigger stir in Mack’s final days than Williams’ answer to a question after Louisville’s Jan. 22 loss to Notre Dame about whether the Cardinals were still responding to the coaching staff or had tuned it out. 

“I don’t have a comment for that,” Williams said, raising the temperature on the hot-seat talk that surrounded Mack. 

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Last week, after Mack and the university reached a separation agreement, Williams said that in the aftermath of the Notre Dame loss he “didn’t really have a response for that question.” But he conceded a disconnect in the locker room, saying, “something was up, but I think we got it all figured out now.” 

Louisville's Malik Williams steals the ball from Duke's Mark Williams in the second half. Malik Williams finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds as well. The Cards fell 74-65 to visiting Duke. January 29, 2022

"This was probably our most difficult year, as me and him went,” Williams said. “Just me being caught up in college and feeling like I’m stuck in the same place. It was difficult for me some days to bring that same energy and pop. I believe me and him kind of had a disconnect in that aspect.”

Williams conceded the two didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but he called Mack “a great coach” and said Mack will “always have a friend in me.”