Louisville Basketball: Cardinals Players Who Need to Get Team Back on Track

Jakub RudnikContributor IIIFebruary 14, 2013

Peyton Siva and Russ Smith have struggled during Louisville's recent losses.
Peyton Siva and Russ Smith have struggled during Louisville's recent losses.Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

On Jan. 14, the Louisville Cardinals were 15-1 and were the top-ranked team in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, having won 11 straight games.

Since then the team has gone 3-4, and has dropped to No. 12 in both polls.

While Rick Pitino's club has struggled as a whole, both members of Louisville's starting backcourt have played their worst basketball of the season as of late. It will be up to the two upperclassmen to turn the season around as the Cardinals fight for NCAA Tournament seeding.


Peyton Siva

Louisville's senior point guard Peyton Siva is a three-year starter and floor leader for the Cardinals. With the ball in his hand on offense and spearheading Pitino's press defense, Louisville will only go as far as Siva can carry them.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Siva has not played like a poised veteran during their four losses.

Siva has just 20 points in those four games, really struggling to find his shooting touch. He is a combined seven of 30 from the field, a lowly 23 percent. He has shot 43 percent for the season as a whole.

As Louisville looks to secure a top-three seed in the tournament, Pitino will need Siva to regain his shooting stroke and early season form.


Russ Smith

Louisville's leading scorer, Russ Smith has struggled mightily as well, although his problems have persisted longer than Siva's.

Over the past 10 games, Smith has shot just 48 of 144 from the field, or 33 percent. He shot 44 percent before this latest stretch.

He has struggled from behind the arc as well, making just 11 of 46 threes, or 24 percent.

Smith scores seven more points than any other player on the Louisville roster, so they need him to make his shots. A high-volume scorer isn't very valuable if he can't shoot efficiently.

Louisville has a very talented roster, and they need other players to step up as well, but Siva and Smith should take the most blame for the team's struggles. They are the two that have the ball in their hands the most and are called on to create the bulk of the team's points. It is up to them to get Louisville back to their winning ways.