Everything was set in place for Louisville to be a good program this year.
Edgar Sosa and Jerry Smith returned—along with Samardo Samuels—and coach Rick Pitino acquired two McDonald’s All-Americans in Peyton Siva and Rakeem Buckles.
Louisville placed the burden on its veteran players to contribute. That is one thing Louisville did—but the Cardinals could not stay consistent with their game flow.
As a result, Louisville ended its season earlier than anticipated—and seniors Sosa, Delk, and Smith have little to look back on.
Now, looking ahead to next season, this backcourt is going to need assistance. Sosa and Smith carried most of the load in the backcourt this season, but now they are gone.
With Sosa leaving, Siva should be the No. 1 guard to run this offense—and here’s why.
Siva came to Louisville known for his true point guard skills. However, he was really a role player this season, learning from Sosa and other players in the backcourt.
When presented with minutes, Siva executed more often than not. Siva had three-plus assists in 11 of his 31 games—and do not forget, he only averages about 11 minutes.
When Siva is on the court, he is constantly moving around—compared with the senior guards, who would stand above the arc, move the ball around, and just settle for the jump shot.
Siva is very much an unpredictable point guard. He will beat you with his strong ball-handling skills, speed, toughness, or hesitation move.
However, before that, he is looking to get the ball in the post.
As evidence, let’s revisit the game against Syracuse at Freedom Hall. Senior guard Smith went down early with an injury, leaving Louisville a guard short in its backcourt.
Although Kyle Kuric dominated that game, Siva's play on offense set him up for the three balls. Siva ran down the court, pushing the ball—and the first person to get a touch was forward Samuels. Siva understood that Syracuse's defense tries to clamp down on the inside, which leaves the guards open on the arc.
So all Samuels needed to do was pick a guard to kick it out to—and let him decide the point of action.
The Syracuse game was not the only one in which Siva impressed Louisville.
During the game against UConn, Siva was presented with 17 minutes of playing time—and he utilized every minute of it. He moved the ball effectively on offense—and he got it done on the defensive side of the ball, as well. Siva concluded the game with eight points, five assists, three steals, and no turnovers.
Siva brings so much to this offense. Not only is he equipped with a high basketball I.Q., but the man can shoot the basketball. Siva shot 43 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point land.
In addition, Siva is always around the loose balls and in the passing lanes. He competes despite the score and is strong in transition.
He just does everything right that you want a point guard to do.
But just like any player, there is some room for improvement. To make his case for the starting lineup next season, Siva will need to improve his free-throw shooting.
We all know how important free throws are to any basketball game. The best players do not usually have problems at the line—and they love to get there. Siva needs to have that same kind of mind-set. Siva shot a scary 61 percent for a guard—this was 10th on the team, only ahead of forward Terrence Jennings.
Siva should be more aggressive on the offensive end. He is blessed with the hops of a premiere athlete. I’ve seen lots of film on him, and the clip that impressed me the most was the one of him showing off his leaping ability .
I’ve also witnessed Siva do a midair 360 and lay it in.
So he certainly has the athleticism to compete with other NCAA guards—not to mention that Siva is built and has the ability to finish with contact.
Siva is a very good athlete with so much potential that has not been reached yet. With the early exit from the tournament, Siva has more than enough time to continue to improve his jump shot and free-throw shooting, spice up his ball-handling skills, and better himself as a player.
This Louisville team looks good with its young talent—and it’s sure to be better with Siva leading this offense.
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