By now everybody knows about the magical run Louisville made to the NCAA title this year. A preseason favorite to win it all, the Cards won the Big East title before winning the whole thing in dramatic fashion. While their miraculous run will be defined by the team’s ability to overcome the devastating injury to Kevin Ware, the team shared a bond that went even deeper than that.
Last week at the New Jersey NBA group workout, I caught up with point guard Peyton Siva, the tough, hard-nosed leader of the team, to talk about the title, brotherhood and horse racing.
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Dime: What is it like to go out on top as a senior winning the national title?
Peyton Siva: It’s a great feeling to go out like that. You leave school as a winner instead of a loser, most people end their careers with a loss but mine ended with a win in the title game so that’s special. You leave a great legacy as well for the upcoming classes to follow and build on.
Dime: There seemed to be a really special bond between the team this year and Rick Pitino. Is there any way to describe that?
PS: It’s hard to put that feeling into words honestly. I still talk to those guys every day. We still have our group chat messages and we talk about all sorts of things in there. We usually just make fun of each other and joke around, usually about Gorgui (Dieng). I love those guys. They are my best friends and I still talk to them all the time.
Dime: What was your first reaction when you saw Kevin Ware lying on the floor in the Elite Eight game?
PS: It was crazy, I didn’t really know what to do. It was tough to see, but I’m glad he’s doing a lot better now. I’ve never seen anything like that before. Nothing at all. That was the first time I saw something like that, but for him to lead us after that and recover the way he did was just awesome.
Dime: What was going through your mind the rest of that game, because on the one hand basketball seems really insignificant at a time like that, but on the other, you really want to win for Kevin?
PS: We were just trying to get that win for him. Kev is a great player and an even better person so we really wanted to win that game for him and just keep going and keep our season alive.
Dime: What was your favorite memory from the NCAA Tournament, outside of winning it all?
PS: Just the time I spent with my teammates. We spent a lot of time together on the road and those memories are awesome. It was something I will never forget.
Dime: Craziest Russdiculous story.
PS: Oh man, there are just so many to tell. Probably this one time when we were playing DePaul and Russ hit two threes back-to-back in transition, then he missed a three and Coach P grabbed him by the head and told him, “You are not going to lose this game for us.” And Coach P just kept shaking him by the head the whole time, and we ended up pulling the game out, so that was pretty funny looking back.
Dime: What is Coach Pitino’s horse “Siva” like?
PS: He’s good. I mean he’s lost two races so far and won one so he’s a bit of a slow starter but he will get it going.
Dime: Have you ever rode the horse?
PS: No, heck no. No.
Dime: Did you have any input on Coach Pitino’s tattoo?
PS: I was the one who told him to get it but I didn’t have any actual input on what he got.
Dime: So you didn’t tell him to get a tattoo like Rex Ryan has of his wife in a Mark Sanchez jersey of Mrs. Pitino in a No. 3 jersey?
PS: I should have thought of that, but I wasn’t that quick on my feet.
Dime: What’s the rivalry like with Kentucky?
PS: Tough team. Tough place to play, and it is always tough against them with all that top, elite talent, but I’m just glad we got the win this year.
Dime: A lot of guys shy away from competitive settings like this combine where there is 5-on-5 action because they are afraid it might hurt their stock. Why did you choose to participate?
PS: I just wanted to show teams how aggressive I am on the defensive end outside of Louisville. I also want to show them that I will always give 110 percent. Even if my shot is not falling, I am going to go out there and compete and help my team win, and I can do that in a setting like this.
Dime: What do you see your role in the NBA?
PS: I’m just trying to get to the league now and make a roster. I feel like I could come in and be a second tier point guard on a team and just continue to work my way up. I can come in and change the pace of the game and push the ball.
Dime: A lot has been written about your rough childhood. Growing up did you ever think you would be in this position?
PS: Definitely not. I never thought I would be in this position. I am just blessed to be here, and thankful for everything that has been given to me and I hope to make the best of it. I think growing up where I did actually helped me a lot in all aspects of my life on and off the court. It helped me with my relentless approach, my aggressiveness, a lot of that I owe to where I come from.
Dime: There is a new addition to the Siva family. How did you propose to your girlfriend?
PS: It was after graduation at a graduation party at her house. I just felt it was the right time.
Dime: In the picture going around online, you are wearing sweats during the proposal, so you must have been pretty confident she would say yes.
PS: I am a very casual type of guy so I didn’t want to change it up for that moment. I was pretty confident and she knows the type of guy I am, so I just went out there and did it, and she said yes.
How good will Siva be in the NBA?
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