Skip to content

For Louisville-Florida, focus will be in the backcourt

Mar 24, 2012, 12:28 PM EDT

Screen Shot 2012-03-24 at 12.24.00 PM

In early March, as Louisville advanced through the Big East tournament, Rick Pitino recalled telling Louisville guard Peyton Siva something important.

Win four games here in New York and bring home a championship, and people will forget about the regular season, he said.

Big East championship: Completed. National title run: Still in Progress.

The Cardinals will take on Florida in the Elite Eight on Saturday afternoon for the right to go the Final Four in New Orleans.

The persistent storyline, of course, has been Rick Pitino, former coach at Providence College, and Billy Donovan, former guard at Providence under Pitino, matching up the NCAA tournament, creating that juicy mentor/mentee lede.

But let’s step away from the storylines and focus on the court, where these two teams have one things in common: they’ve had their critics this season.

Though Kentucky has been dominant in the SEC this year and Florida struggled though a stretch where they lost 4-of-5 toward the end of the year, Donovan’s Gators have been impressive in the NCAA tournament.

After beating Virginia by 26, Florida took down upset-minded Norfolk State by 34, then sent Marquette home with a double-digit victory.

Much of the credit goes to Bradley Beal and his emergence in key spots.

Beal took his freshman lumps at times during the regular season, but has averaged 16 points and almost nine rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament and was the biggest reason Florida was able to beat Marquette in the Sweet 16 and advance.

For Louisville, it has been about defense. As questions about their ability to shoot the ball with consistency linger, the Cardinals held Michigan State to just 29% shooting in their Sweet 16 victory and forced 15 turnovers.

Peyton Siva was strong in the Round of 64 game against Davidson, but hasn’t been nearly as effective since, including going 2-for-9 from the floor against Michigan State.

Louisville-Florida will make for an interesting matchup in the backcourt, with two guard-heavy teams going at it. Look for Siva, Russ and Chris Smith, and Kyle Kuric matched up with the Gators’ Beal, Erving Walker, and Kenny Boynton.

Tip is at 4:30 p.m.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Latest Posts
  1. The Battle of the Pitinos may become an annual occurrence

    Jul 23, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Richard Pitino

    Rick vs. Richard could get awkward for the rest of the family

  2. The latest allegations against Doug Wojcik involve a physical confrontation

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Will this be enough for Charleston to finally get rid of their embattled head coach?

  3. Top 15 recruit Antonio Blakeney has made the ‘jump’ — literally — to elite status

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Nike Nike

    Blakeney is now on the radar of programs like Kentucky and Louisville.

  4. Time lapse of Iowa State’s refurbished court (VIDEO)

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 9.26.42 AM

    Iowa State repainted their court.

  5. Is the College of Charleston close to making a decision on head coach Doug Wojcik?

    Jul 22, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    Doug Wojcik AP

    The College of Charleston Board of Trustees meets on Wednesday.

  6. Iowa State forward Jameel McKay denied wavier, eligible to play in December

    Jul 22, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Fred Hoiberg

    The transfer forward will miss the first nine games of the season.

  7. Highlights from the 2014 Nike EYBL Peach Jam (VIDEO)

    Jul 22, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Seven minutes of highlights from this past weekend’s Nike Peach Jam.

  8. Northern Kentucky eligible for the 2015 Atlantic Sun tournament

    Jul 22, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    Dave Bezold Dave Bezold

    But they aren’t yet eligible for the NCAA tournament. Click to see why.

  9. Isaiah Austin has a job with the NBA once he finishes degree at Baylor

    Jul 22, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    Isaiah Austin Isaiah Austin

    Isaiah Austin is returning to Baylor. Once he gets his degree, he’ll have a job with the NBA.

  10. Montrezl Harrell says he’d be willing to play for Louisville football

    Jul 22, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    montrezl harrell Getty Images

    Imagine 6-foot-8, 235-pound Harrell in a helmet and shoulder pads.

  11. July Live Period Week Two Superlatives

    Jul 22, 2014, 3:16 PM EDT

    Nike Nike

    The second installment of our weekly awards.

  12. Iowa State’s Georges Niang carries extra motivation – and less weight – into 2014-15

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Georges Niang AP

    Niang, who has dropped some 25 pounds since the end of the season, is looking to have an even greater impact as the Cyclones work to account for the losses of Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane.

  13. Mixtape of 2016 five-star guard Malik Monk (VIDEO)

    Jul 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    (USA Baketball) (USA Baketball)

    Is this the best high school mixtape since Seventh Woods?

  14. DePaul forward DeJuan Marrero to transfer to Chipola College

    Jul 21, 2014, 11:43 PM EDT

    marrero

    DePaul redshirt freshman forward DeJuan Marrero will play his sophomore season at Chipola.

  15. Malik Newman, Ivan Rabb, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk among 33 members battling for USA U17 roster spots this week

    Jul 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Malik Newman (Getty Images) Getty Images

    The USA U17 tryouts have a lot of big names and it will also be important for the last week of the July live evaluation period.

  16. Peach Jam mixtape for five-star 2015 guard Isaiah Briscoe (VIDEO)

    Jul 21, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    (Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com) (Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com)

    Isaiah Briscoe helped lead the New Jersey Playaz to a title at Peach Jam.

  17. Four-star Class of 2016 guard Bruce Brown gave up football to focus on basketball

    Jul 21, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT

    (Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com) (Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com)

    Bruce Brown was a promising two-sport athlete, but gave up football to focus on basketball.