Cards’ victory also Pitino defeating son
Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012 7:00 pm
By GARY GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — With most of the attention Wednesday night focused on the coaching matchup between father and son, Louisville senior guard Peyton Siva grabbed the spotlight by applying what he learned from both.
Especially from the father, who’s always in his ear.
Siva’s career highs of five 3-pointers and 12 assists helped the fifth-ranked Cardinals roll past Florida International 79-55 in the 11th Billy Minardi Classic.
“The last couple of games teams have been playing me more for the drive and Russ (Smith) for 3s, so today was more rhythm,” said Siva, who converted five of eight from beyond the arc after not hitting one in his past three games.
“I just took my open shots. I’m not going to make one every game, but tonight it felt good and they played me for the 3 and I just took the shots.”
That Siva played a prominent role in the first meeting between Louisville coach Rick Pitino and Richard Pitino, his son and Panthers counterpart, was fitting. The younger Pitino, 30, served two stints as a Louisville assistant before taking over for Isiah Thomas at FIU this season.
Both have helped Siva develop into one of the nation’s top point guards, which paid off Wednesday with his first double-double since the season opener and being selected the game’s MVP.
“He’s the most special kid out there and it’s not even close,” Richard Pitino said.
Making it better for Rick Pitino was the fact that Louisville had other standouts.
Wayne Blackshear tied his career best with 18 points for Louisville and Chane Behanan added 14 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double this season.
Smith added 14 points for Louisville, which held FIU to just 33 percent shooting and forced 14 turnovers leading to 25 points.
The Cardinals (10-1) shot 49 percent and hit 12 3-pointers, tying a season high. They also committed just 11 turnovers in winning the Classic, named for Pitino’s brother-in-law who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
“We did some good things offensively and got some good work against the zone,” Rick Pitino said. “We got a little bit better than the Memphis game but we still have a long way to go on defense. But we are improving and that is key.”
Tymell Murphy scored 12 points and 12 rebounds for FIU (3-5).
The younger Pitino, whose second stint assisting his father included last season’s Final Four trip, drew a nice cheer from the crowd of 21,411 during introductions. Before that was a moment in which their mannerisms had clearly been passed on, as each stood during the national anthem with their hands folded in front of them below their waists.
Father and son also had their stomping moments, though the elder Pitino’s pounding was louder and more frequent by comparison. Richard Pitino actually seemed more like Billy Donovan — the Florida coach and former Pitino assistant with whom he spent two seasons on the Gators’ staff.
But still had his team’s attention, showing his disapproval with a piercing stare similar to his dad.
Still, Pitino said he told his son, “You emulate Billy Donovan, every single thing he does. The way he coaches, his demeanor, everything about Billy Donovan. Billy Donovan and Peyton Siva are the two people in my lifetime that I not only coached special players but I coached two of the most special people.”
And like dad, the son obviously knew a little something about defense and his choice for the Panthers was a 2-3 zone. Louisville had no problems breaking it, as Smith opened with a 3-pointer and Blackshear and Zack Price got shots inside.
In fact, the Cardinals got more inside chances than they probably expected that soon, making seven of their first 12 inside the arc. That offset Louisville’s 3-of-10 start from the perimeter, although Smith and Siva raised the statistics some by hitting 3-pointers 21 seconds apart.
That provided the Cardinals some breathing room with a 31-19 lead that was helped by their man-to-man defense. After allowing the Panthers to start off 7 of 14 from the field through 10 minutes Louisville clamped down and held FIU to 5-of-18 shooting the rest of the first half.
Blackshear meanwhile stayed in a groove and finished off a 15-point first half by scoring Louisville’s final 10 points including two 3-pointers. He had three of the Cardinals’ seven 3s in the first 20 minutes, helping them shoot 47 percent in building a 41-27 lead.
“I’m feeling more comfortable out there on the floor,” Blackshear said. “I was getting to the basket a few times and being more active.”
Louisville’s 12-3 run to open the second half made it 51-27, and FIU didn’t score its first basket until the 13:40 mark.
When it was over both teams huddled together for a team picture, another fitting moment considering the common bond between them.
“It was fun,” Blackshear said. “Richard was like the funnest guy to be around last year. We miss him.” Published in The Messenger 12.20.12