The University of Louisville menâ€™s basketball team climbed to No. 4 in this weekâ€™s Associated Press Top 25 and the Cards are in the conversation for a No. 1 seed in next weekâ€™s NCAA tournament. They tip off play in the Big East Tournament on Thursday night at 7 p.m. against either Villanova or St. Johnâ€™s.
Thanks to Adidas, the Cards will once again break out new uniforms for the postseason â€“ these have sleeves and camouflage accents.
At 26-5, the Cards wrapped up the regular season with an impressive 73-57 win over Notre Dame on Saturday, March 9, at the KFC Yum! Center. It was UofLâ€™s seventh straight win.
Fans said goodbye to seniors Peyton Siva and Mike Marra and junior Gorgui Dieng, who is expected to test the NBA waters. After the game I caught up with Siva, Dieng and Rick Pitino.
KENT TAYLOR: Was that the perfect ending to your career in the KFC Yum! Center?
PEYTON SIVA: It was great to see all the fans showing love and to play a game. For them to share the Big East title with us was amazing.
TAYLOR: How many family members did you have in for â€œSenior Dayâ€?
SIVA: I had about 30-plus people.
TAYLOR: Youâ€™re one of the few guys who has gotten to try on the new uniforms, what did you think?
SIVA: Adidas is doing a great job with uniforms and (I) look forward to playing with them.
TAYLOR: You like them that much?
SIVA: Itâ€™s just like a workout shirt basically. Theyâ€™re comfortable right now but I havenâ€™t played with them in a game or practice, so weâ€™ll see. I like the InfraRed, I wish we were bringing the InfraRed back.
TAYLOR: Is this as confident as you have been in a team heading into a postseason?
SIVA: I think we have a lot of confidence right now but we canâ€™t let our ego get in the way. Thatâ€™s been our saying since the beginning of the year. If we donâ€™t let our ego get in the way then I think we can compete with anybody. Weâ€™re playing great right now and we just have to continue moving on.
TAYLOR: Coach Pitino gave you guys the goal of winning seven straight to end the regular season, has he given you a goal of getting a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament?
SIVA: Our next goal is a No. 1 seed. I think that if we continue to win out and win the Big East tournament, I think we have a legitimate shot at obtaining a No. 1 seed.
TAYLOR: Has Coach Pitino talked with the team about a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament?
GORGUI DIENG: He said thatâ€™s what he wants and if you have a goal, and if Coach says thatâ€™s what he wants, we have to get it done.
TAYLOR: What does winning a Big East regular championship mean to you?
DIENG: It means a lot, Iâ€™ve never won it. When I go back one day, Iâ€™m just going to tell my friends, listen, I won everything, I think thatâ€™s one of my goals.
TAYLOR: You have said before that you play the regular season to position yourself for the postseason. Now that the regular season is over, how happy are you with where your team is?
RICK PITINO: Iâ€™m happy because we didnâ€™t really have a bad game. Against Villanova we did miss some free throws, but we really didnâ€™t play a bad game all year. We were one of the more consistent basketball teams Iâ€™ve coached, so weâ€™re very excited, weâ€™re doing a lot of very good things and now we got to go to New York and try to win a very important tournament because itâ€™s the last year for the Big East. Weâ€™ll never see another conference like this ever again.
TAYLOR: You also always talk about how the postseason is all about matchups. With this consistent bunch is there a matchup that scares you?
PITINO: I respect everybody. We could lose to anybody, but I think this is a team that is very consistent, theyâ€™ve gotten better offensively as the year has gone on. That being said, I know weâ€™re not better than about 25 teams in this country, so I know that, but we can beat all 25, I know that as well. Thatâ€™s whatâ€™s going to make it so much fun.