Peyton Siva was one of the best players in the Big East last season, and there's every reason to think he'll be even better this time around. He was a constant thorn in UConn's side, and of the three times the teams met in 2010-11, Louisville won twice and Siva averaged 15.7 points, and six assists per game (including a 19 and 7 effort in the Cardinals' 79-78 win in late January).
No need to double-check the URL -- this didn't suddenly become a Louisville blog. We mention Siva because of his recent comments to the Courier-Journal about how he wasn't particularly enthralled with the clips package ESPN aired during last month's NBA draft coverage after the Charlotte Bobcats selected Kemba Walker. And it's not that Siva has something against Walker highlights, he's just opposed to being featured in them.
Details via the Courier-Journal:
"Playing against Kemba Walker was actually a good thing for me," Siva said. "Playing against him, it made me realize I’m going to go out and play my best because you don’t want to get embarrassed.
"There were about three plays when he got me. They played them (on ESPN) when he got drafted. I was like, ‘OK, so those plays when he got me, they're going to show those three after all the ones that we played against each other? OK, I have something to work on next year to not have that showing again.'
"He never took a play off. Even if you think you’re playing good, you can have one bad play. You can’t take plays off."
The lesson: DO NOT try to guard Kemba Walker. Okay, that's a bit much. While most of us will never have to worry about that eventuality, we get the sense that Siva welcomed the challenge. And given his reaction to ESPN spotlighting him as Walker's patsy, he'll be that much more motivated to prove that he's a legit NBA prospect in his own right. Of course, most people who pay attention to such things won't need much convincing. Like, say, Cardinals coach Rick Pitino.
"One thing I've learned in this business is not to think like me but to think like the player," Pitino said, according to the Courier-Journal. " ... Peyton is one of the top five individuals -- as a human being -- that I’ve coached in 35 years, pro and college. He makes my top five easily. So that being said, he's a sensible young man, but I know if he has a great year he will think that way (about turning pro)."
Just one word of warning, Peyton: when you face the Huskies, watch out for this guy. Because he'll posterize you too.