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January 30, 2013

Siva taking his lumps, showing his durability




Peyton Siva takes a licking and just keeps on ticking.

Siva gets knocked around more than any other Louisville basketball player. He seems to spend more time on the floor than Johnson Wax. Yet he's been a no-show at the foul line lately.

The 6-foot senior point guard has failed to attempt a free throw in five of the last six games, an amazing turn of events for a player who handles the ball so much of the time.

His only visit to the foul line in the last six games came in a 73-64 loss to Villanova last week when he was 4 for 4. It was a small wonder he didn't need directions to the line.

On the season Siva is 50 of 56 for a team-best 89.3 percent, but his free throws have nearly dried up since the Big East season began -- he is 13 of 13 in eight conference games.

"I don't know," he said about his lack of being fouled. "Somehow Russ (Smith) gets it done and he gets to the foul line. It's tough. They can't call everything, and they let us play physical. I try to get to the line, but it's not happening. I'm shooting a pretty good percentage, but I'm not getting the calls to get to the line."

In Monday night's 64-61 victory over Pittsburgh in the KFC Yum! Center Siva didn't shoot a free throw for the fourth straight game. He made his presence felt, though, with 10 assists and two steals.

"He's getting knocked down quite a bit," UofL coach Rick Pitino said. "He takes his lumps and goes back out there."

Siva is the Cardinals' iron man. Not only does he bring the ball upcourt and direct the offense, he's also scurrying around constantly on Louisville's full-court press and taking his hits from defenders as the Cards run numerous pick and rolls.

"It's not only the pressing," Pitino said. "You know how hard it is to keep running pick and rolls back and forth and they're bumping you, getting after you? And I'm yelling, 'Run it again, run it again.' The poor kid doesn't get a break. You have to be in tremendous physical condition to do what he does."

Said Siva, "We get hit hard on pick and rolls, but our strength coach gets us ready for these types of beatings."

Siva started the season at 185 pounds and is still listed at that weight, but he says he actually weighs only 173 now.

"I can't afford to lose any more," he said. "I continue to lift (weights), and I eat like crazy all the time."

Does he have any idea how many calories he burns during a typical game?

"No, I'll find out one day, though," he said.

Pitino said Siva and Smith are both in great shape, adding: "They could go out and play another game right now. There's no body fat on them."

Siva insists he feels no ill effects from the constant pounding and frenetic pace on both offense and defense. He averages 30 minutes per game, slightly more than Smith and center Gorgui Dieng, and he played all 40 minutes against Pitt, the only player on either team to do that.

"I feel good, honestly," Siva said afterward. "This is what Coach P has us conditioned for, to go out there and play hard without being tired. Sometimes you pick and choose where you get your breaks in. We got to the free-throw line, that was my time to get a breather. They kept calling timeouts, so that helped me get a good breather.

"I get hit a lot. The Big East is a physical league. My job is to get into the training room and take care of my body as much as I work on my game. Get my lifting, get treatment."

And Siva said he doesn't expect the hard knocks that come with playing in arguably the nation's most physical conference to take a toll as the season progresses.

"That's one thing Coach P has always been good at, when we practice we practice an extra 15 minutes to go harder and push ourselves through that fatigue," he said. "He's been telling me since the beginning of the season that I'm out of shape, so I have to keep on pushing."

Siva has scored just two points in his last two games, but his value transcends points. He has 31 assists in his last four games.

"You can't measure Peyton by the stat sheet," Pitino said. "He's got the ball in his hands all the time. I thought he was a major key in the (Pitt) game. They couldn't turn us over because of that young man. He was our floor leader the whole way."

Said Siva: "It's my job as the point guard to facilitate and get everybody open shots, get everybody going. I don't mind not scoring at all."

He would just like to get to the free-throw line occasionally.


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