Archive for the ‘Louisville Basketball’ Category


This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with

After starting 20 games as a sophomore Jared Swopshire missed all of last season due to a groin injury that took much more time to heal than was originally expected. According to both The Cardinal Connect and the U of L official website Swopshire is now listed as a red-shirt Junior and will be able to play for the Cards for two more full seasons.

During his sophomore season Swopshire proved to have a very valuable and unique skill set while averaging 6.1 rebounds a game (in 25.0 MPG) but also ranking 6th in the BIG EAST at 84% from the free throw line. The only concern is that the Cards seem to be loaded with talent at the PF position with Rakeem Buckles, Chane Behanan, Stephan Van Treese and now two more years of Swopshire. How will the minutes be divided among these four proven contributors? Over the course of a long season in the grueling BIG EAST, having such depth at any position can only be viewed as a positive for the Cards but will undoubtedly result in one of the three starting PFs (Swop,Buckles and Behanan) having less playing time than they might deserve. Having Sophomore Gorgui Dieng and freshman Zach Price as the only two options at the Center position this may mean that Pitino utilizes a smaller lineup depending on the opponent at certain times during the upcoming season, with any of the four power forward options sliding over to play some center.

I think this decision by Rick Pitino is a good sign for the Cards program as a whole as it signifies Rick is convinced Swopshire’s injury is healed enough so that he will contribute over his final two seasons and also it rewards a guy who has stuck with the program during a very frustrating year of sitting on the bench. Jared can provide leadership and also contribute on the floor for two more years in a complex offensive and defensive system which only Kyle Kuric and Swopshire are entering their fourth year of being familiar with.


Ware Should Not Be Counted On

Posted: August 25, 2011 by robjoneslyes in Louisville Basketball, Posted by Rob Jones

Kevin Ware still not eligible

In what seems to be an annual late-summer ritual for the Louisville basketball team, another top-notch recruit is having eligibility issues. This year, the recruit is G Kevin Ware from Georgia who has seen his fair-share of status already this off-season.

The newest blogger in town, coach Rick Pitino, posted today that Ware  “still has not been cleared to play.”. As he was breaking down each player individually, Pitino went on to say senior Chris Smith is “working on his passing skills as he may need to play some back up point.”. Using deductive reasoning, that says to me that Pitino is preparing a contingency plan in case Ware does not show up on campus.

If history is an indication of anything, odds are against Ware ever donning the red and black. Just last season, Huntington Prep swingman Justin Coleman was in Ware’s similar situation and never showed up. Previously, guys like Donte’ Smith and Amir Johnson who went on the play in the NBA, saw a similar fate.  It almost seems like it wouldn’t be an off-season recruiting period without some academic controversy surrounding an incoming recruit.

After de-committing from 2 different schools in less than a year, Ware picked the Cards a few weeks after competing in the Derby Festival Classic at the Yum! Question marks surrounded Ware, who was at the center of the Caldwell/Bender/Central Florida fiasco that was reported by Pat Forde and Pete Thamel. Ware is a great player who would give Louisville quality minutes off the bench early. Yet, it seems like problems just follow him around whether he had any hand in them or not. Just another reason why the odds don’t look to be pointing in the youngster’s favor.

However, Ware is not the missing ingredient in a potential national championship run for Pitino’s Cards. At least he doesn’t seem to be. Pitino was looking for Ware to play a little back-up point, a position he has never played before, so the learning curve would be greater than that of the other incoming freshman. Also, Pitino had an outstanding class before the late addition of Ware. He was icing on an already delicious cake…or maybe even just some sprinkles. Louisville will have a Final 4 caliber team with or without Ware’s services.

Nothing official has come out as to whether or not Ware will become eligible. However, the writing is on the wall and (to me) his chances have become slim. We can all hope he becomes eligible to both further himself and the potential of this year’s Cardinal squad…I just wouldn’t get my hopes up. Time and time again, Louisville fans have been burnt in eerily similar situations. I don’t think they will be burned again.

Follow Rob on Twitter – @RobJones502

Bluegrass Ballers

Posted: July 22, 2011 by Raashaan Myers in Kentucky Basketball, Louisville Basketball

The Louisville Magic AAU program has made a quick rise to the top of the 15 and under division. A combination of great coaching and elite talent has lead to quick success. Now they head out to Sin City and try to deliver another title or two to end the summer. Here is a look inside the program at the guys that make this machine work.

Deangelo Russell – Guard 6’3” 165 pounds Central HS

( All Photos by: Sam Hunter)

Russell is the highest rated prospect on the Magic roster and it is not hard to see why. Blessed with a sweet lefty stroke and incredible maturity for his age Deangelo is an assassin on the court. Using a deft handle and above average passing skills Russell has the ability to play on the ball as well as at the two. Already understanding the local media Deangelo says he does not cheer for either UofL or UK not picking sides in the rivaly. To this point he didn’t mention a list of schools recruiting him though Indiana, Purdue, UofL, and UK were all seen tracking him last week.

Thoughts on playing with very talented teammates: “It brings out the best in you every game. You never know whose night it is going to be so you have to bring it every game.”

On team chemistry: “We are around each other all the time. Even when we are not playing games we are hanging out so we have great chemistry.”

Strengths: “I try to do a little bit of everything. I try to be the leader and guard the best player on the other team. I feel I am a combo guard and since we have some true point guards on the team I can work off the ball too. I can move without the ball and get myself open instead of brining the ball up and running the offense.”

Need to work on: “I want to work on getting more athletic.”

On all the attention he is getting: “It is good right now and I look at it as a blessing. It is fun right now.”

Quentin Snider – PG 6’1” 160 pounds Ballard HS

Quentin gets things started for the relentless Magic attack. Possessing a lightning quick handle and a deadly outside shot Snider is perfectly suited for an up tempo offense. Snider has an extremely mature approach to the game as well as an excellent basketball IQ which makes him efficient and tough to contain. Continued work on defensive principles as well as strength development will help take his game to the next level. Snider is a big time Louisville fan and he already holds an offer from Tennessee Tech as well as interest from Oklahoma State, Xavier, and Louisville.

On the style of play: “It is a fun team to play for. We like to run up and down it is like playing on a playground team.”

On Coach Ellis Myles tough love: “He is just trying to make us better and get the best out of us.”

Strengths: “My biggest strengths are my assists and getting my team involved.”

Needs to work on: “I want to work on my defense and getting more rebounds.”

Trey Grundy – SF 6’6” 185 pounds Henry Clay HS

Trey is probably the best athlete on the Magic roster with great length and non-stop motor to boot. Grundy runs the floor very well and is good with his handle. While the perimeter shot is still a work in progress Trey has good court vision and can make plays off the bounce. He is a tireless rebounder and defender that gets a ton of extra possessions for his team off steals and hustle plays. A UK fan growing up Trey already is getting a ton of interest from Xavier, Purdue, Tennessee, Louisville, as well as interest from Ohio State, South Carolina, and Alabama.

On the team’s mission this AAU season: “We just want to show everybody that we are one of the best teams in Kentucky and one of the best teams in the nation. We don’t feel we are getting the respect we should so we are going out there to prove everyone wrong and show that we are the best.”

On joining forces with the best in the state: “We have been playing against each for a long time so we know what each other can do. This is the first time that we have all come together but we all know each other really well.”

Strengths: “I can guard anyone from a one to a five and I can stop someone defensively but I can also score as well.”

Needs to work on: “I want to work on my 3 point shot and I need to get in the weight room and get stronger.”

Jordan Green – SG/SF 6’4” 180 pounds Henry Clay HS

The name of the game for Jordan is versatility. He can both set up the offense handling the ball as well as finish off a slam in transition. He is a long and agile wing that is continuing to develop his guard skills while continuing to make better use of his considerable potential.  A lifelong Kentucky fan Green has heard from several schools including Tennessee, Xavier, and Purdue so far.

Thoughts on the team: “We work hard, we do everything up tempo, and we like to get out and run.”

Strengths: “My rebounding ability everybody can score so I try to bring something different to the team.”

Needs to improve: “Ball handing though I think I am getting better every day.”

Craig Owens – SF 6’2” 205 pounds Trinity HS

Craig is the type of guy that gets you to the winner’s circle. His greatest attribute is what he brings in toughness and intensity on the court. An outstanding defender and fearless rebounder for his size Owens competes with guys 6 to 8 inches taller. He is developing his long range shot and with continued work on his ball handling will only improve his overall game. A lifelong Louisville fan Owens has received interest from Marquette, Virginia, and Alabama among others.

On playing with the Magic: “I love playing for my team.  I really like this team because we all grew up together and we know each other.”

Strengths: “I think I bring the heart and toughness to the team. And on defense I want to go out there and shut down the best player on each team.”

Needs to work on: “I am working on my ball handling and my shooting. I am not going to be a big man so I need to transition to the guard spot.”

Brandon Hatton – SG 6’2” 185 pounds Dixie Heights HS

To watch Brandon on the court it does not take long to see what he brings to the table. The kid gets buckets and he does is in different ways and can score in bunches. A deft touch from both midrange as well as from the arc Hatton is crafty with his handle to help create space to get off his shot. He can score on the spot up as well as off the dribble and is working on his play making and passing skills. From the state of Kentucky he actually prefers Tobacco Road as he is a big time UNC fan. Brandon so far has gotten interest from Tennessee, Texas, Xavier, Florida State, and some others.

On joining the Magic: “This was the first time that we have all be playing together and it is kind of like an all-star team. We all have played against each other growing up and now finally we are getting to play together.”

Strengths: “Seeing the floor and my shooting.”

Needs to work on: “Getting faster and my jumping ability.”

Christian Cunningham – PG 6’0” 165 pounds Scott County HS

Cunningham is a steadying force for the Magic. He shows a good deal of maturity and has some explosiveness off the bounce in full court situations. He makes good decisions with the ball in his hands and has a good basketball IQ for a young prospect. Christian so far has heard from Tennessee and Manhattan as well as mail for Memphis. He is from a house divided as his mother is a UofL fan and his father a UK fan so he does not pull for either.

Thoughts on what drives the team: “We are a really energetic group and we have a lot of hype guys on the team and we feed off that and coach Ellis.”

Thoughts on team chemistry: “We have a lot of good players on the team. We are real close and we are always together ever since we were little. So we just keep everything together.”

Strengths: “I think I settle the team down and can get a bucket if the team needs one.  I find teammates and try to set them up to score.”

Needs to work on: “I want to get my three point shot a little bit better and work on my dribble pull up.”

Justin Miller – PF/C 6’5” 220 pounds Ohio County HS

Justin is a young prospect who will be starting his freshman year at Ohio County this year. He has good size and works very hard but is still a work in progress due to his youth.  He has soft hands and plays with good aptitude on the block which is where he does his damage. As he continues to get in better shape and work on the little things Miller will improve as a player.

On his role with the team: “I try to play hard while I am in there. I don’t get in much but I am only 14 so I just try to play hard.”

Strengths: “Rebounding. I make good post moves on the block, I pass well for a big man, and I hustle when I am on the floor.”

Needs to work on: “I want to work on getting in better shape and get stronger too.”


This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with

The Cards will play four total games while in the Bahamas and WHAS-TV in Louisville will televise two of the games. The two televised games will be (the second and third games of the trip) on Thursday August 11th vs. the Commonwealth Giants and on Friday August 12th vs. the Real Deal Shockers, with the pre-game beginning at 7:00PM and the tip-off scheduled for 7:30PM (for both nights).

The first of the four Cards games will be an intra-squad scrimmage on Wednesday August 10th at 7:30PM and will not be available locally either through radio or television. The fourth game is on Saturday August 13th at 6:00PM and will be available for your listening pleasure on WHAS-radio through Cardinal Sports Network (the two televised games on the 11th and 12th will also be available on WHAS-radio).

I know Pitino is mostly excited about all the extra practice time he gets to have with the team, but as a fan what do we have to look forward to with these games in the Bahamas? Will we get to see Chane Behanan, Angel Nunez, Zach Price or Kevin Ware on the floor for the first time?

I am looking forward to seeing how Dieng looks with his added weight and another year of basketball under his belt. Also interested to see if guys like Marra and Russ Smith are ready to take that next step and really compete for playing time this season!

(photo by: Sam Hunter)

Former Louisville center Ellis Myles has always been about heart, hustle, and desire. That is the way he played and now he uses that same intensity on the sidelines. He was relentless as the backbone of a Final Four team with his intimidating demonstrative style and if the early results on the court are an example of things to come he will become an excellent head coach. He has begun his coaching
journey by bringing his brand of AAU basketball to the Ville.

“Well I live here in Louisville now and I played for the University of Louisville so I thought it was only natural. I played for the Compton Magic AAU program in California so I basically meshed the two together and I am the founder of the Louisville Magic AAU program here,” said Myles. “Then I went out and recruited the best players that fit what I am trying to do. This is my first group and I want to keep these eight guys together for the next three years. I want to do this for the next four to six years and by thirty three I want to be on a college bench somewhere.”

Of course it does not take long to see where Ellis got the inspiration for his coaching style. He definitely fits into the run and press mold of his former coach Rick Pitino, but he also has taken some things from the guy down I-64 as well.

“It is my style (to run and press) and I understand what these kids like to do these days. Coach Calipari has done a great job of understanding and letting the kids play at the college level. That is what these young kids want to do having the ball in their hands and showcase their one-on-one ability,” said Myles. “So that is what I try to do is let these kids have fun with the ball in their hand. We are a tremendous shooting team, we are long and athletic, and we want to get up and down the floor. Those are our main strengths.”

The combination of Myles’ tenaciousness on the sideline and superior talent on the floor has led to unprecedented success on the court that has not been seen by any AAU team from the state of Kentucky.  The sensational backcourt duo of Louisville guards DeAngelo Russell (Central) and Quintin Snider (Ballard) as well as Lexington Henry Clay forwards Trey Grundy and Jordan Green have
helped lead the Magic to win three straight 15-under Championships.  The last two titles, at the prestigious Adidas Invitational and the Eddie Ford Hoopfest, included an unbelievable stretch of 12 straight wins in 7 days.  

“I feel that the players are going to take after the personality of the coach. So if they see their coach is aggressive on the sidelines then they will be aggressive in between the lines. So I just try to bring as much out of them that I can and if they see me drenched in sweat on the sidelines then they are going to be drenched in sweat,” said Myles. “It is all about desire and work from the kids. We are not like other AAU programs we work out two times a week and we give them a lot in those two hours and you see the results on the court. They know one another and they enjoy playing with one another.”

Yet with so many talented players on the roster including Dixie Heights star Brandon Hatton, Trinity workhorse Craig Owens, Scott County point guard Christian Cunningham, and Ohio County big man Justin Miller the unselfishness and team chemistry has been one of the reasons that the Magic have met success so quickly.

“I don’t want to take the credit, but I think the fact that I don’t let anyone get away with anything they don’t know who the best player is. Heck I don’t know who the best player is because they all come in and do everything that is asked of them,” said Myles.

The lack of a strong AAU presence in the state of Kentucky has really hindered the development of young talent over the last twenty years. That is something that Myles wants to change and he believes that with the amount of young talent things are changing.

“We had a big meeting (with the team) and I told them you have a Derek Anderson and you have a
Rajon Rondo that is a tremendous gap in between there. And I told them they could be next or it could be someone else but there is a lot of talent in this state and especially on this team so I think it could definitely be one of my guys who is next,” said Myles.

While Myles is has been focused on the business of building an AAU powerhouse he has taken time to check out the upcoming Louisville Cardinal men’s basketball team and he likes what he sees.

“I go down there and work out three to four times a week. I get to see the guys practicing and I really like the kid Chane Behanan he has a good chance to play a lot of minutes. We’re so deep this year, they remind me of our 2005 team because they are about fifteen deep,” said Myles. “So now coach has his hands full because everybody is going to get after it and if someone is not doing right then
another can step in because everybody can play. This is a great team and I expect good things.”

So of course the big question is can this team be as good as Myles’ Final Four squad of 2005?

“We had so much chemistry on that team in 2005 we were a bunch of guys who had been around
each other for such a long time. I was a fifth year senior on that team, but this year we got Swop coming off injury and we have Buck coming off injury so we will have to see how that develops,” said Myles.


University of Louisville senior Kyle Kuric is preparing himself for a memorable final season this coming year. His coming of age and development over the three previous seasons reminds me of guys like Eric Johnson and Larry O’Bannon. So what has King Kyle been working on this summer to take his game to the next level?

“I think the most obvious thing for me I need to work on is creating my own shot and being able to put the ball on the floor. Not just shooting threes or just getting my shot only off someone else’s penetration, but being able to create my own shot is the first thing I am working on. Outside of that I want to work obviously is defense, quickness, jumping ability, and other things like that.  Also me personally I want to be able to shoot even better this year with more consistency. I want to shoot an even better percentage and have confidence in that,” said Kuric. “I am doing a bunch of stuff here as well as a lot of things I have never done before. I am training with Peyton and some of the other fellas, as well as working on explosive quickness training. I have picked up yoga and several other things as well.”

Out of high school Kuric was offered preferred walk-on status to join Louisville and Butler was his most prestigious official scholarship offer with Indiana University offering a scholarship late in the process. His rise to a  possible preseason All Big East selection has been unbelievable; so does he have a chip on his shoulder to stick it to all those who passed him over?

“Well my freshman year was a disappointment in my eyes even though maybe not to some. I didn’t really see myself as an all Big East selection, but in high school being a focal point at that level with all the time I have put in I could see some of it. This is something I have put a lot of work into and wanted to achieve and I am still looking to achieve more,” said Kuric.

 Unlike previous seasons Kuric is now being looked to as a leader off the court as well as on and he is taking things in stride.

“Well this year for me personally is different than all the previous seasons. This year it is not just about working on things on the basketball court but also working on leadership and getting other guys into this system and to work hard as possible. It is a different situation than it has been but I am accepting it and trying to do the best that I can,” said Kuric. “To us it has been the same as it has been really, but for the new guys it has been something different of course. But we are also doing different things and extra stuff also we’re not just lifting, we’re not just playing pick-up, we’re not just doing the things we are supposed to do. We may have two  guys here lifting, and two guys there playing, and we are trying to do as much as possible to get us ready for this year.”

With so many returning players Louisville will enjoy being one of the most experienced teams in the country. Has that experience paid dividends so far?

“Continuity has been there for now as we have only had one or two guys here so far to get acclimated to the process and the system. It has been easier for them because there are just a couple of them so far, but we have like three or four more guys coming in so even though we have had some familiarity  with the returning guys it will be about getting all the new guys up to speed as quickly as possible,” said Kuric.

Preseason rankings have placed the Cardinals in the top 10 in most projections to begin the season, and Joe Lunardi sees the Louisville as a Final Four contender. How good can this team be this year?

“I think we can be as good as we want to be.  It is very simple if we put in the work we need to which we are I think we can be as good as we want. I don’t want to say getting out of the first round is our primary focus, but it is a goal,” said Kuric. “We were right there for the Big East regular season championship and we were right there for the Big East tournament championship with a team everybody didn’t think should be there. So I would say Big East regular season and tournament championship as well as Elite Eight and Final four is where we are setting our sights right now.”

One piece of news that caused quite a stir in Red and Black nation was the news that Kuric has been moved to walk-on status though he is a starter and projected team captain for the upcoming season. So the million dollar question is what does Kyle think about being one of the most talented walk-ons in program history?

“It all started last year when Coach talked to my parents and he told them he may need my scholarship this year or last year. He said he may or may not need it and if they would have the money to go ahead and pay my way. And they said they did so that is how this whole thing came about.  Then they talked to me about it and I told them I didn’t have a problem with it. As far as being viewed as a scholarship player or as a walk on I could really care less. If you see me as a walk on that is your loss and that means you are going to underestimate me,” said Kuric.

Kuric is coming off a season that saw him hit career highs of 10.8 PPG while shooting a blistering 51% from the field and 45% from three point range while hitting the 20 point mark on 6 separate occasions. So what are his personal goals for the upcoming season?

“Well if I score 20 points in a game but we lose then it doesn’t matter. Whether I score 20 points a game or 5 points a game I am going to play whatever style I need to for us to win. I mean I was looked over a bit in high school, but that is just the way it is. Coach P took a gamble and Coach McCarty helped out a lot and it benefitted me and them as well,’ said Kuric.

 With pick-up games in full swing at the SAC there have been reports that there has been some marked improvement from a number of the returning players. Who has impressed Kuric the most so far this summer?

“Some things are looking good and some things are looking bad, but it is pick-up so that is how it is. Russ has been playing really well and we are working on him passing the ball off his penetration into the lane. He is really quick and no one can really keep him out of the lane so getting in his head to set up his teammate like Peyton did last year could really benefit him and really benefit our team,” said Kuric. “Gorgui has really improved, Peyton, Chris, everybody is getting better, and we are trying to get the new guys to concentrate a little bit more on the defensive end.”

Though there are only two of the five freshmen on campus so far Kyle does believe both will make an impact on the upcoming season.

“With TJ leaving this year that really leaves some open opportunities at the 5. Zach will have some opportunities to step in there and battle with Gorgui every day and they both will be better for that and benefit us. We are really deep at the 3 and the 4 so Chane is really skilled and the other guys at that position are really skilled as well so that will be a great competition as well. Them being there early and get what we are trying to teach them will really help them out and be very beneficial,” said Kuric.

For all the highlight plays from last year’s magical regular season, the clear top moment came in a road game vs. Notre Dame when Kuric threw down a thunderous slam on Irish forward Scott Martin.  It was selected as college dunk of the year by Fox Sports.  So where did those hops come from?

“I have worked on my vertical jump since I was in seventh or eighth grade.  I have always worked on that and I have always worked on my shooting. People look at me and see I can shoot and probably can’t jump very high so that started a long time ago. So I surprised people in AAU and even when I got here too and finally in a game,” said Kuric.

Can we look for a repeat this coming year and see Kyle go back to back for dunk of the year?

“I hope so,” said Kuric with a laugh. “It is not something I am focusing on, but hopefully I can make that happen.”


Today was the first day coaches could go out and watch prospective recruits play basketball. The July Evaluation Period as it is called in the recruiting circles. Coaches can’t actually talk to the guys that might take them to the promise land in the near future…they can just watch…which makes absolutely perfect sense when it comes to the way things are handled in the NCAA.

The only thing you can compare it to is a Peep Show at some slimy adult store off a remote highway. Not that I’ve ever been to such an establishment, but I’ve heard stories that give me the gist of what they are all about. You can look…and gawk… and become infatuated with…but dare attempt to touch or talk…it’s curtains. It might not be the most politically correct comparison for millionaire college coaches evaluating 15-18 year-olds, but it’s the best example I’ve heard. It fits perfectly. Recruiting is a sleazy world, but interesting nonetheless.

All that being said, at least the coaches can actually watch the players for a few weeks without getting beat about the face with a wet noodle by the NCAA. Coach Pitino and his new staff of Wyking Jones, Kevin Keatts, and son Richard hit the scene today in search of 2 players in the 2012 class (according to Pitino) and build relationships with the ’13 and ’14 classes. First stop was the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis.

Just to rehash, Pitino & co. started off the 2012 recruiting class strong with commitments from top-flight guards in Rodney Purvis and Negus Webster-Chan. Then came the recent assistant coaching turnover with Steve Massielo and Tim Fuller leaving the school leading Purvis and Chan to re-open their recruitment. Purvis has since been quoted that he would still be a committed had coach Fuller stayed. Chan has since fell out of’s Top 100.

Looking at the depth chart for 2012 (assuming no one goes pro), the Cards’ biggest needs would be a swingman to replace departing seniors Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith along with some depth on the front line should Jared Swopshire depart or Rakeem Buckles struggle to recover from knee surgery. There is also the possibility of PG Peyton Siva leaving for the NBA, which Pitino said he would prepare for, but is highly unlikely. Another option would be some post help should incoming freshman Zach Price not work out according to plan. So, basically the Cards don’t necessarily need help in one particular position, but that could change as the season progresses. Here is what the 2012 depth chart would look like with all underclassmen coming back…

PG- Peyton Siva, Elisha Justice, Kevin Ware

SG– Wayne Blackshear, Kevin Ware

SF– Jared Swopshire, Angel Nunez, Luke Hancock (transfer from George Mason)

PF– Chane Behanan, Rakeem Buckles, Steve Van Treese

C- Gorgui Dieng, Zach Price, Steve Van Treese

Not bad…Not bad at all.

I believe Pitino has the ability to take the best available talent in 2012 and not get caught empty-handed like he has in previous years. With that depth chart, the team will be solid even in a doomsday-like scenario. I can imagine the dream scenario for the Pitino staff would be a combination of either SF Alex Pothyress of Nashville, SG Gary Harris of Indy, or PG D’Vantes Smith-Rivera of Oak Hill. All are ranked in the top 25 overall by Scout, all fit the needs of the teams, all are talented enough, and all have the Cards high on their early lists. The flip side is, all are being recruited by the best of the best including UCLA, Michigan St., Duke, UNC and (gulp) Kentucky. That $7 million Pitino cashed last year and his new staff will be put to test early in attempting to put together a class like that with the talent coming back.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that either Wayne Blackshear or Chane Behanan leave early as well, but like Siva, it’s also highly unlikely. None of the 3 are projected first rounders by any of the major mock draft site and only Siva is listed as a second round possibility. A new NBA collective bargaining agreement could make it an impossibility for Blackshear and Behanan to even attempt to leave. Cards’ fans have seen worse, so this scenario will not be ruled out until all 3 are back in red and black about a year from now. That would give Pitino room to bring in a bigger class.

Other possibilities in 2012 who Pitino likely will miss out on are #1 C Andre Drummond (likely headed to UCONN), #3 C DaJuan Coleman (son of Derrick, likely headed to Syracuse), #1 overall player G Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA or Kentucky), and former commit G Rodney Purvis (left Cards off last narrowed list). All are listed as showing interest in the Cards by, but I would be absolutely shocked if the Cards got even a visit from any of them.

If Pitino decides to go the big-man route, C Joel James of Palm Beach Gardens, FL, who was coached in AAU by Louisville director of basketball ops Mark Lieberman with the Florida Rams, would be a logical play due to his relationship with both Lieberman and former AAU teammate Rakeem Buckles. Also, Mitch McGary of Brewster Academy in NH via Indianapolis is soaring up the charts and has received interest from the Cards’ staff in recent moths, according to multiple outlets. Should Pitino decide he can afford to take a quality big-man, I wouldn’t be surprised if it came from one of those two. However, many believe it will be hard for Pitino to grab a top-notch center with Dieng, Van Treese, and Price hogging all the playing-time that first year.

Point guard targets include J-Mychal Reese of Texas (who plans to visit campus according to Jody Demling), Kris Dunn of New London, CT (who is listed as interested by Scout and not Rivals, but is close with Wyking Jones according to Demling). Both are highly sought after, but will take a back-seat to Smith-Rivera when it comes to who the staff’s main focus is on…in my opinion.

Of course, by the time you have read this a kid will have changed his mind and eliminated the Cards completely or another guy will suddenly show up on Pitino’s radar. It’s just how recruiting works. However, if the 2 guys that make up the 2012 freshman class are a combination of either DSR, Harris, Pothyress, James or McGary; coach Pitino will be a happy camper and the Cards will be re-loaded for 2012.

That’s assuming Siva, Blackshear and Behanan stay…

God, I hate recruiting.

Siva breaks down the team and upcoming season

Posted: June 22, 2011 by Raashaan Myers in Louisville Basketball

Rick Pitino and Peyton Siva - Kentucky Wesleyan v Louisville (Photo:

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.”


This is part one of a two part in depth conversation that I  had the opportunity of having with Louisville point guard Peyton Siva on Father’s day. I first wanted to talk about Peyton’s summer plans as he has been a busy guy and he had the opportunity to train with some of the best players in both the NBA and college hoops.

His first stop of the off season took Peyton to Texas and the Dallas Mavericks training facility. He along with University of Washington point guard Isaiah Thomas was invited to down to Big D to train with fellow Seattle native Jason Terry in advance of the Western Conference Finals. Peyton says that he wanted to get some help improving his total game.

“It was good. I wanted to work on getting more consistency on my jumpshot so I went down (to Dallas) with Isaiah Thomas. And who better to train with than Jason Terry and it was great. We worked hard and we learned a lot so it was really great,” said Siva. “It was really amazing the amount of work he put in with us. Especially during the playoffs guys usually tend to relax and not do too much, but he was in the gym everyday with us. He shot jumpers with us and broke down each of our jumpshots and helped us the whole time.”

Of course Terry and the Mavericks would go on to make the NBA Finals and defeat the Miami Heat to win the first title in franchise history. Terry was a huge part of Dallas’ success in the finals and seeing how well he played on the biggest stage had a big impact on Siva.

“Just seeing him go out there and make the shots we worked on and he was consistent with it. The shots he practiced were the shots that he took in the game. It just really just drove home the point that a lot of guys talk about shooting and show you little techniques, but to see him to go out there and do it was a whole different thing,” said Siva.

Peyton who as a senior at Seattle Franklin High School shot 37% from 3 point range as well as 83% from the free throw line. While his free throw shooting has been a constant issue he shot a very good 40% from 3 point range as a freshman at Louisville before dropping to 27% as a sophomore. What does Peyton attribute those struggles to?

“I just had a bad year shooting the ball and a lot of it had a lot to do with confidence. Last year I really just focused on really becoming a better point guard and really trying to learn more about the pick and roll situations,” said Siva. “I concentrated on really taking it to the hole and kicking out and that is what I really worked on, but this summer I am really concentrating on my jump shooting.”

So has the training and shooting drills from Terry helped Peyton see some improvement so far?

“I can really see some improvement and a couple of my teammates have really noticed my improvement as well. It is really good to go out there and knock down some shots then it carries over to open gym. To go out there and see all that hard work paying off is a real blessing,” said Siva.

Peyton’s second stop of the summer took him to South Beach but not for the Sun and surf, but to train with some of college basketball’s elite guards at the prestigious CP3 camp host by Hornet’s all-star point guard Chris Paul.

“That was also a really good experience down at CP3 camp. I got the opportunity to work with Chris Paul one of the best point guards in the NBA was great. We worked a lot on changing speeds and getting in the lane taking those floaters and runners. That is something else I wanted to add to my game is not going fast all the time and changing it up and keeping the defense off balance as well as adding the floater as well,” said Siva. “Chris Paul told us a good story about how he was fourth in the league in free throws is first two seasons but how his body could not take all the punishment in the lane. So once he added that floater he got to stay away from a lot of that wear and tear. That is something that I think would help me from taking all those unnecessary hits by adding that runner and floater it will help me out.”

It is a great honor to be selected to play at the camp and Peyton was training alongside of some of the best players in college basketball. Guys like North Carolina duo Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall and Duke teammates Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry.

“I knew a lot of the guys out there and I knew what a lot of those guys could do. I got to be out there with Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche from Syracuse, Kenny Boynton from Florida, and Jordan Taylor from Wisconsin was my roommate at the camp,” said Siva. “I got to see that those guys were out there working hard and they had some things in their game that is may not have had as a part of what I do. So the thing that I want to do is to take a little bit from what they do and try to add it to my game.”

Coming in part two of my in depth conversation with Peyton Siva we will discuss the prospects for the upcoming season, the UK game, as well as the NBA and more! Stay Tuned!

This article was written by Kelly Patrick, a contributor with

Cher, Barbara Streisand, Beyonce and Rodney Purvis. These are the first names that come to my mind when I think of the word “Diva” these days.  Being that Purvis announced he is not longer considering the Cardinals (or the Cats) it has me wondering: Do the Cards need to recruit the same types of guys that Cal goes after? Or can we leave that up to UK and instead focus on bringing in multiple top 100 players who can come together and play as a team.

This is not an attack on Rodney Purvis, for all I know he may be the greatest kid on the planet, and regardless of him being a good person or not, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t welcome him to become a Cardinal even after all of this drama (i.e. Kevin Ware).  This is instead me wondering if the Cards should avoid guys who seem to be known as being the #1 player in their high school class or even the #1 player at their position in their high school class. I think a championship can be built without having these types of players and I would argue that more often than not the national championship teams are built from good (above average D-1) players who have an edge and who take pride in being good team players instead of having the proverbial “one foot in the NBA” the entire time they are with their respective university.

Need I remind you that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team and that after years of being slighted (in his crazy competitive mind) he was still seemingly very bitter while being inducted into the Basketball hall of Fame in 2009.

Would Michael Jordan have won all of those Championships and won all of those MVPs if he had been praised from a young age like Lebron James or any other “Top Recruit”? I’m not suggesting that a guy like Kevin Durant, Carmello Anthony or even John Wall can’t win a national championship during their one year on the collegiate level (obviously at least Carmello could), instead I am asking: Are the Card’s better off if they avoid these types of guys? I look forward to your responses.