First things first.

In no way, shape of form should it have taken this long for Louisville to find its next basketball coach.

Athletic director Josh Heird knew by Christmas that he was going to move on from Kenny Payne and should have used that time to have someone lined up and ready to go as soon as the new coach’s team was done playing.

Even if he did target somebody and it’s reported that he might have – he should have had a Plan B ready to go in the event that Baylor’s Scott Drew changed his mind and decided not to join the Cardinals after all.

It would have saved Heird and a program already dealing with enough PR problems from appearing to be in scramble mode, getting publicly embarrassed by Florida Atlantic’s Dusty May, then being connected to a litany of recognizable names.

That includes Richard Pitino, son of the coach whose conduct helped soil Louisville’s once-proud tradition and sent it spiraling to the bottom of the college basketball barrel. Even Bob Huggins got into the act by throwing his name into the conversation.

It was a coaching search that was beginning to resemble the circus that preceded NC State’s hiring of Mark Gottfried in 2011.

And we all remember how that turned out.

Sometimes, though, it’s better to be lucky than good. In this case, Heird and Louisville ended up hitting the equivalent of a 10-team parlay on ESPN Bet.

Charleston’s Pat Kelsey isn’t the marquee name Heird swung and missed at trying to attract. But while he might not win the press conference, his history suggests that he has the potential to win a lot of games and get Louisville back on the road to respectability.

He has won everywhere he’s been.

By comparison, the 27 wins his team earned in claiming the Coastal Athletic Association regular-season and tournament championships this year were more than twice as many as the 12 victories his predecessor Payne managed in his 2 full seasons with the Cardinals.

Kelsey has also taken his teams at Charleston and Winthrop to the NCAA Tournament 4 times since Louisville’s most recent appearance.

Granted, this will be his first Power conference gig. But if he can attract the kind of talent necessary to compete at the highest level he’s got the chops to coach them up.

Keep in mind that Kelsey is the guy who recruited NC State’s DJ Burns, the breakout star of the postseason, to his original school – Winthrop.

Kelsey’s energetic personality, which he once said could “make coffee nervous,” is the type for which players want to play. So is his exciting, fast-paced style that averages 81 points and 30.6 3-point attempts per game, 3rd-most in the nation, while employing a rotation of as many as 10 players.

His Cougars were ranked No. 53 in adjusted offensive efficiency this season, according to KenPom. That’s a significant improvement over Payne’s final Louisville team, which finished at No. 189.

Although Charleston was eliminated in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, it pushed 4th-seeded Alabama to the limit, scoring 96 points in the process, before falling just short.

Terms of Kelsey’s contract with Louisville haven’t been disclosed, although it’s been widely reported that it will be for 5 years. With a fertile transfer portal from which to draw, that should be more than enough time to breathe some life back into the Cardinals’ ailing program.

Kelsey, who sports a career record of 261-122, clearly wasn’t Louisville first choice. He probably wasn’t the 2nd or even the 3rd choice, either.  But he could very well turn out to be exactly the coach the Cardinals need at this critical juncture in their proud history.