In part two of my conversation with Louisville point guard Peyton Siva I wanted to know more about his thoughts on how things finished up with the disappointing loss to Morehead State and what are the prospects moving forward. Clearly there seems to be a renewed focus from the whole team says the 5’11” floor general.
“We had a disappointing ending to the season, but we definitely exceeded a lot of people’s expectations last year. And we come into this year we are in the gym right now, everybody is committed, and we all have a common goal and bond. We haven’t been out of the first round the last two years and this year is the year I feel we can get past the first round,” said Siva. “Everybody is committed and everybody is determined to get it done and we are getting started early this year. We are taking the trip to the Bahamas and I think that everybody’s mindset being on basketball is really going to help this team out. Since we will be getting in the gym and working hard is really going to help this team out.”
Peyton says that the experiences from last year and the advantage of having almost the whole team returning will pay big dividends this coming year. “I feel like everyone is coming back and we are a bunch of older guys now. They know what to expect from Coach Pitino and they know what to expect from the system so I think that will help us out a lot this season. And that will also help us with the younger guys also to bring them in and we can all help them get where they need to be,” said Siva. “They will have the opportunity to get started early and it will be good because they will know what is expected of them coming into the season. Everyone is coming back committed to that common goal and Preston really set a great example for us last year.”
Coach Pitino mentioned during his last press conference that he has not selected team captains yet but Siva feels that he along with the two seniors have stepped to the forefront to lead this team.
“I think that me, Kyle, and Chris Smith are the guys that have really taken the lead with this team. Kyle is more of a show you type of guy and is a leader by example. Chris is a guy that talks a lot and is more vocal than Kyle. It has been very good and we have come into this season with the mindset that we were going to do everything right we are going to do everything correct and we are going to bring the young guys along the right way,” said Siva. “I am able to tell the young guys about my past experiences like when I came in playing behind Edgar and paying my dues. Now Coach P allows me a lot more freedom and that is something I will be able to share with them. I think the three of us will do a great job of leading this team.”
Every returning player from last year’s team has been on campus since the first session of summer school started back at the beginning of June, but only one of the freshmen made it in for the first session. Everyone is expected to be in by the time the second summer session begins in July. That freshman is Cincinnati native Chane Behanan and it has not taken him long to make an impression on Siva.
“I think Chane is a guy that will be a great help for us this year. He is relentless on the glass and has high motor and has really long arms that really help him out. He is also very strong and has legs like tree trunks. With him coming in this early and being able to work out and lose some of that baby fat is a great opportunity for him,” said Siva. “And also we have (Rakeem and Swopshire) coming off of injury and they are trying to get back to 100 percent. He will be able to push those guys as they are coming back and also his ability to rebound will be something that the whole team can learn from. He is in open gym now showing off his rebounding and he also has a very nice
jumpshot as well so I think he will be good for the team.”
Another player this is going to be a big contributor to the coming season is sophomore big man Gorgui Deing. Now that Terrence Jennings has decided to forego his senior season and play professionally he will need to be an impact player for Louisville and Siva thinks he will deliver.
“You can see a big difference in Gorgui’s game. In every open gym he is working on several nice post moves and he has gained about 15 or 20 pounds so he is a lot stronger. One thing people may not know about Gorgui but he didn’t really focus on weights and lifting before this summer, but now he has been lifting all summer and he is really committed to it. He is working hard and wants to learn and he is learning a lot,” said Siva.
Louisville will be heading to the Bahamas for a foreign trip this year to prepare for the 2011-12 season and Peyton thinks that it will be good for the team as a whole.
“I can’t wait to get to the Bahamas. I know Coach P is really concentrating and focused on the 10 days of practice and he is loving that. The freshmen will have the opportunity to find out what our practice is all about and we will have the opportunity to come together as a team. It will be a great time to learn how to play together and learn one another and bond together,” said Siva.
Looking toward the prospects for this latest edition of the University of Louisville men’s team Siva feels the team could be in for some big things.
“I think we can be really good this year but of course we have a long time to really find out. I think with the core group of guys are ready to play and we are battle tested. And the depth of our team will really help us out in practice we will have 16 or 17 guys out there and everyone will push each other because everyone wants to play,” said Siva. “Coach P goes off of what happens in practice and if you go out there and you don’t play hard you won’t play. It is really good because you have multiple guys that play at every position and guys that can play several different positions so that will really help us out as a team.”
One question that all U of L fans will of course want to know is about the big Battle of the Bluegrass game with UK. What does Peyton think about the annual rivalry?
“I definitely look forward to that game, but remember I am not from here and I am not from Louisville so I don’t know that much about the rivalry. Though the game did hit me a bit and I felt it this past year, but I don’t think it hits me as much as maybe some of the other guys on this team like Chane or Bullet,” said Siva. “They will probably take the game a lot more seriously, but I think it will be another top game against a top ten school and it will be a great game. It is definitely more of the fan’s game, but I definitely don’t want to lose that game because I hate losing and we will also have to hear about it the rest of the year.”
One of the most exciting players in all of college basketball Peyton is known for both is athletic prowess and breath taking plays on the hardwood. He says he tested out with a vertical leap in the 37 to 38 inch range in high school and it is something that he uses to lift up not only himself but everyone involved.
”It is something that I have done since high school. I know people will come out there and say oh he did a 360 and it is just two points, but the way I see it can be a momentum changer. I look at it as I can go out there and if I can pull that off it will get my teammates hyped up and get the bench hyped up and change the momentum of the game,” said Siva. “It gets my teammate involved and gets the crowd involved when I do my athletic plays it can make a difference. Whether it is an assist to Kyle in the corner or an alley-oop to TJ off the break it is all about changing the momentum of the game. If I we are down in the game and guys start to hang their heads then I go down the lane and throw down a dunk on someone it can change everything around and that is what it is all about.”
With his uncanny ability to make the spectacular play as well as find himself as a fixture in the ESPN top ten plays some have wondered if maybe Peyton has an eye on heading off to the NBA in the near future. Well that will have to wait for now says Peyton.
“Of course every kid has dreams and aspirations of playing in the NBA, but we have not even been able to get out of the first round thelast two years so that is really what I am focused on. This year I am just focused on getting out of the first round and winning games throughout the year and I will worry about that stuff when it comes,” said Siva. “When you have that mindset of I am leaving after the year you kind of get sidetracked. All I am focused on is this team and I want to win games because if you don’t win game you are not going anywhere. I am just going to come out every day and work as hard as I can and the sky is the limit.”
Peyton had one of the finest seasons passing the ball of any player to play for the Cardinals coming in just behind Louisville greats LaBradford Smith and Terrence Williams on the single season assist total with 182 for the year. So finishing only 3 assists behind Williams at 185 and 44 assists behind Smith at 226 on the single season mark does Siva look to shatter that record this coming season?
“I am going to try to get that. I was behind Terrence last year but I am definitely going to try to get it this year.”