A sea of red greeted the 8th ranked University of Louisville basketball Cardinals Saturday afternoon as they walked into the KFC Yum! Center for the regular season finale against Notre Dame. The theme was “Wear Red for the Seniors” as the Cardinal faithful said goodbye to point guard Peyton Siva, junior Gorgui Dieng and student assistant (and former player) Mike Marra. The Cards took control early and maintained it throughout for the 73-57 win.
Coach Rick Pitino decided he wanted Dieng to participate in the traditional farewell of the student-athletes because he thinks his Senegalese center has a legitimate shot to be picked up in the first round by the NBA. If not, Dieng has said he will return for his senior season with the Cards.
Siva leaves the school ranked number two in assists behind LaBradford Smith and also second in steals behind Louisville legend Darrell Griffith. Other the other side of the student-athlete equation, Siva is an academic All-American, only the second player at the University of Louisville to earn the honor.
While the Louisvillians who couldn’t get into the KFC Yum! Center were along Bardstown Road at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Card Nation had to contend with the Fighting Irish, a team that took the Cardinals to 5 overtimes back in February. The Irish came out victorious in the longest game in Big East history.
The Cards were also playing for a share of the Big East title and the number two seed and the double-bye going into the Big East tournament. Their tourney run will begin in the quarterfinals.
Louisville flexed their muscle early with Gorgui Dieng playing like the NBA scouts in the house wanted to see. The Lakers, Orlando, Houston, Utah and Atlanta all sent people to watch and Dieng didn’t disappoint. His 9 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in the first half set the tone and triggered big performances by Peyton Siva and Luke hancock as well.
Photos: Louisville.com/Tim Girton