Found March 11, 2012 on
A freshly cut net draped around his neck, Louisville junior guard Peyton Siva clutched the Big East tournament MVP trophy.
Not bad for a player who nearly was forced to grab something else a few weeks back by Louisville coach Rick Pitino: A spot on the bench. It's not clear what a healthy, confident and composed Siva will mean to the Cardinals come NCAA tournament time, but that combo was enough to push Louisville to its second Big East title in three years, capped by a 50-44 victory at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
"He (Pitino) was going to take me out of the starting lineup once, but he told me he had faith in me," Siva said. "He said it was a brand new season and told me to focus on my defense and pushing the tempo. It was hard for me."
Siva, who was picked by some experts to be the top point guard in the nation this season, sprained his left ankle during practice on Nov. 14. He was forced to sit out two games because of to the injury and it looked like after-effects zapped some of Siva quickness and, eventually, some of his confidence.
Pitino was asked about Siva's mindset in the wake of a 58-49 loss to Syracuse in Louisville's regular season finale on March 3. He scored just four points with four assists and six turnovers in that contest.
"I think he hears it -- he's not playing well -- and he's a very sensitive young man, so he presses," Pitino told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
The solution -- coming from a coach who has seen his share of adversity over a distinguished career -- was simple, Siva said.
"He just told me not to listen to anybody and press the reset button," Siva said. "He wanted me to start over. That's what I did. I wanted to block everything out and stop reading everything."
That meant no Twitter -- Louisville players are already banned from using the social networking service anyway -- and keeping off Facebook, message boards and anything else that even mentioned the Cardinals.
The blackout seems to be working. Siva averaged 13.8 points in the Cardinals' four Big East tournament games -- more than four points better than his regular season average of 9.1. He had 10 points on Saturday, but he also was as responsible as any Louisville player for Cincinnati's unsteady play.
Cincinnati scored all of 14 points in the first half as the Bearcats shot 24.1 percent from the floor.
"Tonight, we played Cashmere Wright, one of the best point guards in the Big East, and we tried to hold him," Siva said. "We just wanted to dig through and hold on."
Held to four points in the first half, Wright broke through with 12 in the second as the Bearcats mounted a comeback and eventually cut what had been 16-point lead to four -- the product of a four-minute scoring drought by Louisville after a Siva layup with 4:27 left in regulation.
Russ Smith finally halted the skid with two free throws with 28 seconds left to ice the game.
Siva became the first Cardinals player to win the Big East tournament MVP named in honor of Dave Gavitt, the first commissioner of the conference.
"He struggled a little bit earlier in the season, but he's one of the best point guards in the country," Louisville center Gorgui Dieng said. "He deserved that trophy. I don't want to give excuses, but he was hurt for a long time. He's healthy now."
There was a scare late in the first half when Siva tangled with a Cincinnati player and tumbled into the first couple rows behind the baseline. Siva came up limping, but returned to the game.
He returned to the seats -- this time on the opposite baseline -- under happier circumstances once the game had concluded to find his parents. To see the proud look on the their faces as they waited for their son to venture past the media tables to find them said more than any tweet, post or blog entry.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
The Cards will travel 1,958 miles to Portland, Oregon this week to play Davidson in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Considering the distance and cost of a plane ticket, I doubt there will be a lot of Louisvillians making the trip out west. Trust me, I don’t blame you. While I think Louisville landed in the best possible region, the location couldn’t get much worse.
Peyton Siva is a different player when he steps on the floor at Madison Square Garden. In the last five games at MSG, Siva is averaging 13.6 points, 6.4 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.6 steals. That’s pretty darn impressive, if you ask me. Siva’s play in the last two nights has made this look like a completely different team.
Totals of 32 points, 13 rebounds, 10 steals, and...
Louisville surprisingly took home the Big East Tournament Championship this weekend. Peyton Siva was named MVP of the tournament and earned a congratulations from this dude in this awesome shirt. That’s how you represent the US of A.
Peyton Siva played another near-flawless floor game, Gorgui Dieng scored 16 points and Louisville dominated No. 23 Notre Dame 64-50 on Friday night to reach the Big East tournament championship game for the third time in four years.
The cat-quick Cardinals held the Fighting Irish without a field goal for the final 12 1/2 minutes in the first half and advanced to play Cincinnati...
Unreal. The fact that Louisville just won the Big East tournament for the second time in four years, is unreal. Before the season started, I think we somewhat expected this. Two weeks ago, I’m not sure how many people thought it was even possible. Over the last four days, not only has this looked like a completely different team, but they looked a lot better than their opponents...
Louisville, led by Most Valuable Player Peyton Siva, beat Cincinnati 50-44 Saturday night to win their second Big East Tournament title.
I don’t think it’s really hit me yet that Louisville will be playing in the Big East tournament championship tonight. In the last three days, we’ve seen the Louisville team we that we were looking for all season. The Cards just look like a much better team than their last three opponents. As I’ve stated ita number of times, Peyton Siva is the difference maker. When he plays...
Stopped in the semifinals. That's been the story five times now for Notre Dame at the Big East tournament.
Peyton Siva delivered another near-flawless floor game, Gorgui Dieng scored 16 points and Louisville dominated the 23rd-ranked Fighting Irish 64-50 on Friday night to reach the title game at Madison Square Garden for the third time in four years.
The Louisville Cardinals Win the 2012 Big East TournamentCongratulations to the Louisville Cardinals for winning the 2012 Big East Tournament with their win over Cincinnati Saturday night. The Ville did it using defense and unselfish play. The tournament’s Most Outstanding Player was Louisville point guard Peyton Siva who controlled the tempo and played great defense throughout...
There's been no offense in the Louisville (dressed like Syracuse) - Cincinnati Big East Final. And then this.
Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva led Louisville to a 64-50 win over Notre Dame Friday night in the Big East Tournament semifinals to advance to Saturday's championship game against Cincinnati, who upset Syracuse.
Some Seeds to Chew On
Will there be a first four to the Final Four? Time to know the best team at every seed and find out who will have a chance to dance their way to New Orleans. Just to be clear, I am not saying all these seeds can make the Final Four, but they all have a chance to make an opposing coach sweat it out for forty minutes.
photo credit: sportsnola.com
Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva powered Louisville past Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament semifinals, but it was reserve Russ Smith who sparked the Cardinals with his defensive pressure. InsideTheVille.com examines the Cardinals rout of the Irish.