Peyton Siva. JR. G. 6'0. Seattle, Washington:
Once known on Louisville message boards as the incoming freshman point guard who was better than John Wall, now Siva is considered an up and down player who struggles with consistency. It was rumored that he used to miss layups because he got to the rim too quickly
. That has proven untrue in recent years. On the season, Siva has averaged a little under ten points per game and a little over five assists. He was 2-13 from the field in the first meeting on his way to eight points and four assists. Barring a Joe Mazzula performance out of him, it would probably benefit the Cats if Siva tried to take the game over like he did in the first meeting.
Fun fact: Siva's three point shooting percentage has dropped every season since he entered as a freshman!
Russ Smith. SO. G. 6'0. Briarwood, New York:
Russ Smith is a good friend of Doron Lamb's and is a notorious prankster. While they played AAU basketball together, Lamb said that if Russ caught you sleeping, then you'd wake up all wet the next morning
. I think I could ask ten people what that meant and get ten different answers. Smith is the Cards' most prolific scorer, averaging almost twelve points in 21 minutes of game play. He went for 30 against the Cats in the first meeting, which is a daunting number. However, consider that he scored eight uncontested points in the last thirty seconds and it's less impressive. Neither Russ nor Siva has any height on them, so that mismatch should be exploited all day long - especially if we can get one of them on Darius.
Fun fact: Few people know he can sleep all day! (h/t University of Louisville Athletics
Chris Smith. SR. G. 6'2. Millstone, New Jersey:
Chris is the best three point shooter by percentage on Louisville's roster
but is nowhere as prolific as Kyle Kuric. Since there will be a longer defender guarding him at all times, it will be imperative for them to put a hand in his face on the perimeter. He had a relatively unimpressive outing in the first meeting, only scoring seven points, but tied for the team lead in steals with three. Chris is the younger brother of the NBA's J.R. Smith and considers him the best player he has ever played against. That's good news for nearly every player in Kentucky's starting five because he is vastly underrating them.
Fun fact: Chris Smith's parents will have one son who played in the NBA!
Gorgui Dieng. SO. C. 6'11. Kebember, Senegal:
Every story mentioning Gorgui Dieng this week has made a point to remind everyone that he is an accomplished polyglot, but what's less known is that his counter part, Anthony Davis, knows a second language as well. Davis is fluent in smack talk. By that I mean, anytime Dieng tries to shoot the ball, Davis will smack it away.
It's the only language that's actually useful on the basketball court. Dieng isn't a slouch in smack talk either, though. He led the Big East in blocks at almost four per game and recorded six rejections against the Cats in December. Russ Smith believes Dieng is just as good as Davis and should provide a good matchup for him. Did I mention that Russ Smith was not the smartest guy on the roster? Considering the lack of height everywhere else on the court of the Cards, Dieng will be relied upon for help defense often. If Terrence and Anthony keep passing in the block like they have been, then the Cats should benefit from a lot of open looks.
Fun fact: Gorgui Dieng is an accomplished polyglot!
Chane Behanan. FR. F. 6'6. Cincinnati, Ohio:
Chane 'Nostradamus' Behanan is known for one thing and one thing alone: bold, often incorrect predictions. Before the first UK game, he predicted that Louisville would not only beat the Cats, but run the table and claim the national championship
. Louisville proceeded to lose five of their next seven games. Before this UK game, Chane predicted the exact same thing. Second time's the charm, right guys? Behanan is a good, if undersized player. He rebounds well and is strong in the paint, but he'll have the tall task of defending Terrence Jones. You may not remember Behanan from the first meeting because he fouled out and only saw 15 minutes of court time. If he gets in early foul trouble again, he may lose his cool. If that's the case, I'm predicting another technical foul in his future.
Fun fact: Chane said he chose Louisville over Kentucky because he wanted to see "what he could do for a team with less pieces in place". Gorgui Dieng would translate that as, "I was scared I wouldn't get playing time"!
Kyle Kuric. SR. G-F. 6'4. Evansville, Indiana:
Kyle Kuric was a nonfactor in the December meeting, mainly due to the excellent defense by Darius Miller. Look for Miller and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to once again take the point on guarding Louisville's leading scorer. On this stage, I can't imagine Kuric only shooting four shots like he did in Rupp
, but if the Cats can stick to the gameplan then shutting Kuric down is once again a possibility. Kuric, like his fellow vertically challenged teammates, will have to defend a much taller player. If UK utilizes a particularly tall lineup like in games past, Kuric would be at a major disadvantage. John Calipari has already stated that the team is preparing for this game like an Indiana redux. If we're going to outpace the Cards, then it will have to be done by exploiting these matchups all over the court.
Fun fact: If Kyle could meet anyone, it would be Michelangelo! That may be more confusing than how Russ Smith gets players wet when they're sleeping.