Louisville-Butler Preview

BY foxsports • November 18, 2011

It looks like Louisville will be short-handed in its only road game before New Year's Eve.

Butler is eagerly anticipating the visit of its highest-ranked opponent in nearly 20 years.

The eighth-ranked Cardinals will likely be without point guard Peyton Siva on Saturday when they face the Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Siva suffered a severely sprained left ankle in Monday's practice. He has averaged 10.5 points and 6.0 assists this season and led Louisville with 5.2 assists in 2010-11.

"Who we're going to use in his place I have no idea right now," coach Rick Pitino said. "We've been trying all different things to see which one will possibly work for us."

The Cardinals (2-0) have already lost guard Mike Marra (torn ACL) for the season. Rakeem Buckles (right knee) and Wayne Blackshear (right shoulder) are also out, but replacing Siva won't be easy.

"Anytime you take away someone who is your best basketball player, anyone you put in isn't going to be as effective offensively or defensively," Pitino said.

The absence of Siva could swing this matchup in favor of Butler (1-1) since Bulldogs point guard Ronald Nored is a senior who has started at times during all four years. Nored is one of the key returnees for a Butler team with plenty of new faces after last season's second straight appearance in the national title game.

"It's great that we had the opportunity to experience the Final Four and all that together but there's seven new guys that have no idea what the heck that's even like," Nored said.

Butler lost its opener at Evansville last Saturday before winning 57-46 over Chattanooga at home Tuesday. Andrew Smith had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Nored contributed eight points, five assists and four steals.

"Coming off the Evansville game, I'm really proud of the way our guys responded," coach Brad Stevens said. "I thought they were resilient."

Louisville is the highest-ranked opponent to visit Butler since then-No. 5 North Carolina won 103-56 in 1992.

"We really are excited," Pitino said. "When you go to places like this fieldhouse, there's a lot of nostalgia to it. Although it's been renovated, it's a great place to see a basketball game."

The game will have special meaning for the Cardinals' two Indiana natives.

Starting forward Kyle Kuric is from Evansville, and forward Stephan Van Treese is an Indianapolis native who's expected to make his season debut after sitting out with a left knee injury.

"I love Hinkle Fieldhouse," Van Treese said. "I've probably played there eight to 10 times, it's my favorite place to play."

Twelve of Louisville's first 13 games are at home. This is a rematch of last season's 88-73 win for the Cardinals in their first game at the KFC Yum! Center.

Pitino feels like it's too early to use this matchup as a measuring stick.

"Teams like Butler and Louisville are not on all cylinders," he said. "They have a young team, we have a team that's banged-up and injured. We both hope as the year goes on we're going to be on all cylinders."


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