Men's Basketball

Q&A with The Louisville Cardinal beat writer Noah Allison

No. 12 Syracuse will look to rebound from consecutive losses when it takes on No. 10 Louisville in the Carrier Dome at noon on Saturday. The Orange beat the then-No. 1 Cardinals 70-68 at the KFC Yum! Center in January, highlighted by some late-game heroics from Michael Carter-Williams. Louisville comes into the game tied for second place in the conference, while the Orange sits in fourth place with Notre Dame. The Daily Orange caught up with Noah Allison of The Louisville Cardinal to breakdown Saturday’s rematch between the Orange and the Cardinals.

The Daily Orange: It seems like everything’s coming together right now for Louisville with seven wins in its last eight games. What has been the key to this run for the Cardinals?

Noah Allison: After the five-overtime loss at Notre Dame, the team and “Card Nation” were quite dejected, it was physically and emotionally exhausting for all. It was also a wake-up call for how the team needed to approach this final portion of the season – professionally. They have tightened the hatches and each player is really locked in on what they need to do as an individual for the team to have overall success. Since that Notre Dame loss, the Cardinals have gotten back to turning the ball over at a high level and imposing their will on the opponents again.

The DO: Louisville had a tough stretch after its loss to Syracuse back in January. How has the team changed and developed since that first matchup?

NA: Following the three-game losing streak after being ranked No. 1 for the first time in the regular season, the team took notice of how important finishing the games were. In those three losses, Louisville had the opportunity to control their own destiny to win, and in two of the three losses gave up the lead late in the game to lose. The team has not changed its style very much since the first matchup – it will most likely be another tough grind of a game.

The DO: As the regular season winds down, how do you think Peyton Siva has lived up to his selection as the Big East’s Preseason Player of the Year?

NA: Peyton Siva has undoubtedly had a huge impact on Louisville’s success this year and has had a very good senior season. He will not win Big East player of the Year, though. Maybe if he hadn’t made the inadvisable pass against Syracuse, maybe if he had hit the game-tying shot at Georgetown and maybe if he had had shinier numbers, but he didn’t.

The DO: Who has been the Cardinals’ most valuable player this season?

NA: It really is quite impossible to say who the team MVP would be at this point of the season. This truly is a “team” by the definition of it, and no one person has made the team what it is. The Cardinals were able to win all but one of their games when Gorgui Dieng was injured for a month, but there is no way the Cardinals would have had this sort of Big East success without Dieng. The team would hardly have been able to run an offense without Peyton Siva being the ultimate game-handler, but then again, Russ Smith is automatic offense having practically carried the team by himself at some points of the season. The MVP would have to go to one of those three for the regular season, but there is still too much time to tell who will ultimately prove most valuable.

The DO: At this point, what do you think the ceiling is for Louisville in the NCAA Tournament? What does this team need to do to make a run at the Final Four?

NA: In order to make it to the Final Four, Louisville needs what every team needs: to click at the right time and draw the right teams. The Cardinals seek to wreak havoc and make the game chaotic and not very pretty – a bad matchup would be, say, a Notre Dame who likes to slow the game down and make them play half-court offense the whole time. On the other hand, the team’s depth and ability to withstand foul trouble will play a major role in one of the Cardinals’ tournament games. Like I mentioned earlier, the greatest attribute this team has is that it truly is a “team.”

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