A relatively youthful Louisville squad surprised the college basketball world with an unexpected Final Four run this spring. The experience gained during the Cardinals late season run to New Orleans should help Rick Pitino's squad live up to lofty preseason rankings next season.
"We were really young last year," Peyton Siva told Jeff Goodman of SiriusXM. "Chane [Behanan] was a freshman, Gorgui [Dieng] was a sophomore stepping into a big role, Russ Smith was a sophomore…we were really young. Now we've got Luke Hancock who is bringing some experience and Russ, Gorgui and Chane have another year under their belt."
Siva, UofL's senior captain, along with Hancock, a junior who was a key starter at George Mason two seasons ago, will be tasked with keeping Louisville's young standouts humble and hungry this summer as the Cardinals prepare to make another run at the NCAA championship next season.
"We've just got to keep them level-headed and not let [the] Final Four success go to their head, especially in today's world with Facebook and Twitter with everybody telling you how good you are," Siva said. "Keeping them hungry and humble is the main focus of our team because you can easily get sidetracked by rankings."
Hancock, a co-captain along with Siva, is out until August after undergoing surgery to repair his right shoulder that was injured during pickup action last month. After a lengthy series of injuries threatened to derail Louisville's season last year, Siva says it's critical the Cardinals stay healthy this summer.
"If we can stay healthy and have the injury-bug stay away from us then that will be great," Siva said.
After starting the season 12-0, Louisville closed the regular-season with nine losses in their final 19 games, including four of their last six. But the Cardinals turned things around in the post-season, sweeping four games in New York to win the Big East championship before blitzing the West Region on their way to the Final Four. National champion Kentucky outlasted Louisville in the national semifinals in a hotly contested contest.
"To keep winning and play Kentucky that close was a show of character for our team," said Siva. "I thought we gave it our all."