Men's Basketball

Louisville's new guards ready to fill Siva's shoes

Louisville's Luke Hancock, left, Coach Rick Pitino and Russ Smith posed for a snapshot during the Cardinals' media day. Afterward, Red beat White 70-65 in a scrimmage.
Louisville's Luke Hancock, left, Coach Rick Pitino and Russ Smith posed for a snapshot during the Cardinals' media day. Afterward, Red beat White 70-65 in a scrimmage. AP

LOUISVILLE — If Saturday's Red-White intrasquad scrimmage is any indication, Louisville will be just fine at guard this season.

Junior-college transfer Chris Jones and freshman Terry Rozier combined for 38 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists and five steals to lead the Red to a 70-65 victory before 8,386 fans in the KFC Yum Center.

The defending national champions, 35-5 last season, must replace point guard Peyton Siva, in addition to center Gorgui Dieng.

Chane Behanan, who returns at power forward, likes what Jones has shown thus far.

"I thought it was going to be tough to fill Peyton Siva's shoes. But Chris, he can play," Behanan said at the team's Media Day before the scrimmage. "He's catching on right away, and it shocked me a little bit. He's good."

Jones, a 5-foot-10 junior, was National Junior College Player of the Year last season with Northwest Florida State College. He averaged 21.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.0 steals.

Saturday, he shot 8-for-15 from the floor, 2-for-4 from three-point range and finished with a game-high 24 points. He also had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

"I could play at my own speed. But now I'm learning how to play fast all the time, change speeds with the game," Jones said. "That was the biggest transition from juco to here."

Rozier, a 6-1 freshman from Youngstown, Ohio, added 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Wayne Blackshear also scored 14 for the Red, and was one of five players on the winning team to grab at least seven rebounds. Stephan Van Treese led all rebounders with 11, adding seven points.

The new guards helped the Red outrebound the White 42-24.

"Chris is a terrific basketball player. He's the Junior College Player of the Year for a reason," Coach Rick Pitino said. "But those two guys are very talented and I'm very pleased with both guys. They're exactly what we needed, and they're terrific.

"I like the way they played today. They're both under control. When you get 15 rebounds from your backcourt, that's great."

Pitino talked about the toughness of his new guards.

"I was raised in a tough area ... so I think how I was raised," Jones said in explaining where he gets his toughness. "And the smallest guy always has to be tough, so I just put it into basketball and it's brought me a long way."

In addition to Jones and Rozier, the Cards' backcourt includes returnees Russ Smith and Blackshear.

Smith led the White team with 22 points and eight assists, with two rebounds and two steals.

"I'm playing a leadership role with the younger guys," Smith said, "trying to get them to be the best players they can be."

Montrezl Harrell had 14 points and six rebounds for the White, while Behanan had 13 points and nine boards.

Luke Hancock, Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, said this team isn't much different than last year's.

"I don't know if there is (a difference) skill-wise," Hancock said. "We have a lot of really talented guys that came in to fill voids and fill in for guys that left. But I don't think there's that big of a difference."

Hancock said he doesn't feel any pressure in the role of defending national champion.

"We're just going to try to take it one day at a time. Honestly," he said. "We're worried about getting better today, how we can get better as a team and come together as a team. If we take it one step at a time, I think we can be pretty good."