It is Saturday night, March 3rd. Instead of drowning my sorrows in a bottle or chasing girls (Yes, Louisville basketball means more to me than meeting girls. Crazy, right?), I'm sitting at home trying to comprehend exactly who Peyton Siva is and how could he possibly take us as far as we want to go. You heard it countless times today during the Syracuse game. Seth Davis wrote about it Friday. Louisville will only go as far as Peyton Siva takes them. How far can Siva take us? The answer to this question can be answered through a simple glance at history...
To compare Peyton Siva to Kemba Walker would be quite unfair. To compare this year's Cardinals basketball team with last year's Huskies team at the same point this time of year would also be unfair but I feel a look at Kemba Walker's numbers last year can be a good starting point at why Siva's inability to score has hindered our offense. Kemba Walker shot 43% from the field. He shot .330% from three point range. He averaged 23.5 points per game and 4.5 assists per game. He was, of course, also the best player in college basketball last year and a first round NBA lottery pick. Peyton Siva isn't even close to being Kemba Walker, however, it is important to note theimportance of an excellent guard during tournament time. A dominant guard can make or break a team's tournament run. This is shown throughout history, and not just past history but even recent history. Joey Rodriguez shot 35% from the field. He shot 33% from 3 point range. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.2 assists per game. If you don't know Joey Rodriguez, you obviously wasn't watching VCU's run to the Final Four last year. He was the engine that drove that team to the Final Four. Sure, they had an imposing post player and a red-hot perimeter player at the same time but VCU wouldn't have been in the Final Four without Rodriguez. The most important statistic I want to point out from Rodriguez is that he attempted 366 shots last year. Keep that number in mind.
Brandon Knight carried Kentucky to the Final Four last year. Without a doubt, if it wasn't for his stellar play down the stretch of the season Kentucky would've been one and done just like Louisville. Knight averaged 17 points per game and 4.1 assists per game. He shot 42.3% from the field and 37.7% from 3 point range. Knight attempted 513 shots, 231 of them being threes. Again, keep that number in mind. Let's take a look at this year's top point guards (well the ones that play for major conference schools. Damien Lillard and Joe Ragland and Isaiah Cannan and Matt Delladova all play for mid-majors and well know mid-majors don't win NCAA titles, right? Hmm..). Kendall Marshall of UNC averages just 6 points per game but he also averages 9 assists per game. He shoots only 42% from the field and 31% from 3. He has also only attempted 185 shots (not including tonight's game but he did score 20 and had 10 assists against Duke). Tyshawn Taylor of KU averages 17 points and 5 assists per game.He shoots 48.5% from the field and 43% from field. He has attempted 357 shots and 121 of them have been threes. Phil Pressey of Missouri averages 10 points a game and 6.1 assists per game. He has attempted 234 shots, shooting 40 percent from the field. He has also attempted 87 threes but has only made 31% of them. Marquis Teague of Kentucky has attempted 261 shots, making 41% of them. He has also attempted 65 threes, making 32%. On the season, Teague is averaging 9 points and 4 assists per game.
So what does all of this mean? Well, let's look at Peyton Siva's numbers. (Note: These numbers do not include the two games this week but we all know how these games went, don't we?) Siva is averaging 8 points per game and 5 assists per game. He has attempted 209 shots, only making 38% of them. He has shot 55 threes, only making 11. Siva is barely scoring more than Marshall but Marshall contributes more assists and has also made more threes (albeit barely). Siva has taken less shots than any of these guards aforementioned(outside of Marshall). Therein lies the problem with Louisville's offense. Say what you want about Siva not being able to shoot but what's worse than not being able to shoot- being reluctant to shoot. His lack of aggression is killing UofL's offense, making our team easier to guard because essentially you are playing 4 on 5 on offense. Check out tonight's game film. Siva was being dared to shoot and he refused. In Seth Davis' article and even in today's game analysis by Eammon Brennan on ESPN he said that teams are beginning to sag off Siva on the high pick and roll, making that offensive set ineffective. It is not the offensive set itself that is failing- it is Siva's inability to run the offense effectively. Anyone who follows college basketball knows the criticism of Kendall Marshall and how he is regarded as an awful shooter, much like Siva, yet Marshall has nearly attempted as many shots as Siva PLUS has contributed more assists in UNC's high powered offense. Siva HAS to become more aggressive over the next couple of weeks or Louisville will only has two games left in its season. So it's true, as Siva goes so does Louisville. You can surround Siva with Blackshear, the Smiths, Kuric, Nunez, Behanan, and Dieng but ultimately he has to become more aggressive to free up our other perimeter players. The end is near but's it not here. #L1C4 LET"S GO!