FRANKFORT, KY (WDRB) -- Peyton Siva spoke with reporters before today's Cardinal Caravan event in Frankfort, Ky., but not before a little girl wanted to have her picture taken kissing Siva on the cheek. Which I think gives you an accurate picture of Siva's U of L fan following.
Siva also took time to show off his Final Four ring before answering a variety of questions. In fact, the topics varied so widely that I think the best way to handle it is a transcript. Read on . . .
Q: What has the offseason been like?
SIVA: It's been a great offseason. Everybody's been working hard. Everybody's been putting in the work. Especially with the new 2-hour rule, every week for eight weeks you can have 2-hour practices and 30-minute individuals and that really helped us out a lot.
We don't have a lot of open gyms. So now we're working on our skill sets and the things we really need to work on, and I think that's been a big benefit to everybody.
Q: Coach Pitino seemed to leave last week's practice very happy. How often does that happen?
SIVA: It never happens. I'm kind of scared. Now you don't want to practice and mess it up. But we have a very veteran team. Everybody knows what to expect from Coach P. Everybody is ready to learn. And we all know the system so he can stop and really put anything he wants into the game. So hopefully we'll have more good practices in front of us. I'd rather have him happy than mad.
Q: How has everybody's game changed since last season?
SIVA: I've seen a lot of change. Especially, Kevin Ware has stepped up into a big role this year, he's our starting shooting guard as of now. He's worked on his shot, his mid-range is a lot better. Wayne's getting healthier and able to move a lot better. Russ is getting a lot stronger and making a lot better decisions. And everybody's just getting a lot better. Angel's getting able to handle the ball and move off the wing and Chane and Gorgui are getting a lot stronger and a lot bigger. So everybody's been working hard, working on things they need to work on.
Q: Now that you've had some time with Montrezl Harrell, what does he bring?
SIVA: Very aggressive player. Very talented, raw, but he goes to the glass hard. He's going to compete with Chane for minutes. I love his attitude, love his work ethic. He's a workhorse, he loves to be the first one in the gym working hard. He's got the same wingspan as Gorgui so he's able to go up there and dunk it and you know coach lobs and go get rebounds. He's really going to help us out a lot on the boards this year.
Q: How do you deal with the high expectations?
SIVA: We try to block it out. What happened last year, happened last year. We had our fun for a week after. We celebrated. We enjoyed it. But now we have to worry about this year. We had high expectations last year. We were ranked in the top 10, and you know fell and dropped in the middle of the season. So right now we're just trying to stay humble and hungry. And injury fee. I think everybody's got that taste of what a Final Four feels like. Now we want to move on past that.
Q: How much time did you take off after the season, and how much different does it feel now that you have full movement and are completely healthy?
SIVA: I took about like a week off, just to let my body rest. But you get so bored just sitting around, so I got right back into the gym and have been working hard ever since. Everything is feeling better. I've gotten a lot stronger in the weight room. Everybody's been helping out, getting strong and healthy.
Q: What went through your mind when you heard that Coach Pitino had named a horse after you?
SIVA: I never really saw a horse race, so I was kind of surprised. So now I want to see my horse. I've never seen a picture of my horse. I've seen a picture of Gorgui's horse. It's huge. Hopefully mine is a lot faster than Gorgui's.
Q: How has your game changed? You mentioned everybody else. Coach Pitino said he thinks you've become a true point guard?
SIVA: I've been working on a lot. Russ and me compete every day, so he's forcing me to work on a lot of my weaknesses. For example, he'll go under a lot of ball screens and force me to pull up and hit the three. And I've improved that, working on shooting the three consistently and pulling up on the midrange shot. And that's what's been best for me this summer. I've been making shots a lot better than last year and coach has been really happy with the way I've been shooting, so I'm just trying to keep in the flow of that.
Q: Coach said Russ has almost grown out of his practice jersey from work in the weight room.
SIVA: Russ is big. He's a lot stronger than people think. That's one dude I love to be around, just because of his competitive edge. We compete every day in the weight room, who can lift, try to outlift everybody on the team, so far we've succeeded, except for Stephan Van Treese, because he's going crazy, but we'll catch up to him soon.
Q: So Gorgui went home, did he come back with any good stories from his trip?
SIVA: Gorgui came home speaking a lot better English, surprisingly. He said the only reason he came back was because he missed us, otherwise he would have stayed. He hasn't told us anything yet about how it was over there. But he learned how to drive and got a car over here and I'm kind of scared to ride with him. So stay off the road if you guys see Gorgui.
Q: Do you give Chane grief for outlifting him? He's the one guy prone to making big statements, have you guys had to ground him at all?
SIVA: Definitely. But Chane is definitely a humble kid. He loves to talk a lot, but what I love about him is that he does put in the work, he backs up whatever he says and he works hard, so me and Russ outlifted him, but we probably caught him on a bad day. And we tease him about it every day. It's like beating your dad in one-on-one in a backyard game. You're going to tease him about it every day -- but you're not going to play him again. Me and Russ joke around a lot, but he's a lot stronger.
Q: From this time a year ago to now, how is Coach Pitino different?
SIVA: You can see he just wants to work. He wants to be at the gym every day. I think it's killing him that they put in that time limit, because he loves to work with us. I remember the story about when he used to coach at Providence and they used to have the unlimited time rule, he said when they changed that rule a little piece of him died. Especially with this team, he loves to come to work every day, he loves to see us, he loves to run us to death. But it's just a great feeling to have him there and have him supportive. He's just building everybody up and being a very positive guy. And it's been fun to be around him and everybody loves the attitude and feeds off it.
Q: How has it been different with Richard gone and some of the new coaching staff?
SIVA: I tell Richard this. You left when he recruited me, came back, then left again. I said, How you gonna leave twice before I even leave here? But it's been great with the new coaches, they're really good, some first-year guys from last year are getting into a new role and really finding out what to do. I think they're going to be head coaches one day very soon. I really like their attitudes and the way they break things down for us and communicate with us and I'm looking forward to a big year with them.
Q: With Stephan leaving, and Richard, and Rakeem, and then Van Treese coming back, what were you guys thinking that whole time?
SIVA: We didn't know what was going on, actually. We found out the day Little Richard was leaving that Coach Lieberman and Casey our video guy were leaving, so that was kind of hard to deal with that, then to find out that Stephan Van Treese was leaving, then to find out that Buck was leaving, but Stephan was staying, it was very confusing but we talked to them, Rakeem talked to us and told us he thought it was the best decision for him, especially with being injured for two years, so I wish him the best of luck. We still communicate every day. He's still at the dorm, you know, we'd love for him to stay, but he's doing what's best for him.