Rotary lost a heartbreaker to Indiana Elite in the first round of the playoffs Monday afternoon and were bounced from the tournament later in the evening by a very talented Atlantic Celtics squad led by 6-9 Derrick Favors, Scout.com's No. 1-rated prospect in the Class of 2009.
Without question, one of the best games of the day was the Rotary-Indiana Elite contest. With Rick Pitino, Coach K, Rick Barnes, Lorenzo Romar, Bruce Pearl and Tom Crean watching, both teams got big performances from their top guns.
For Rotary, Peyton Siva scored 20 points, while 6-9 teammate Josh Smith, also a Louisville recruit, added 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks. 6-4 freshman Tony Wroten led the way with 21 points. Still, it wasn't enough as Indiana Elite hit just enough clutch shots to escape by the narrowest of margins – one point. Rotary fought hard until the end and nearly pulled the game out despite losing Smith to fouls with seven minutes remaining.
Against the Celtics, Siva managed just field goals but scored 14 points. However, he had one of the best plays of the day – a spinning, one-handed slam over 6-7 Terrance Shannon.
Smith was impressive against the highly-ranked Favors, outscoring his counterpart 23-21. Both players grabbed 11 rebounds each. Smith also made a handful of blocked shots.
Christian Watford was relatively quite offensively for the Celtics, scoring 8 points. Terrance Shannon, a high-energy forward, also added eight points for the Celtics.
Rick Pitino caught Siva's afternoon game against Indiana Elite before leaving. Louisville assistant Walter McCarty had morning duty and was replaced by Pitino. Richard Pitino was again on hand and tracked Siva, Smith and Watford in the evening. The younger Pitino also kept an eye on 6-2 junior guard Terrone Johnson from Indiana.
On another front, Louisville commit Rakeem Buckles, exploded in the first round of the playoffs. After fouling out in the final pool play game Sunday night, Buckles came back strong with 26 points and double-digit boards. The image of Buckles beating everyone down court and finishing with a powerful one-hand slam was a wonderful thing.
"Yesterday I did alright but today I came out hard and played pretty well," Buckles said. "I just want to keep getting better. I'm trying to improve my strength, shooting and passing."
How is Buckles progressing in those three areas? "He's doing good," Buckles' coach, Mark Lieberman, said. "He wants to improve on everything – his ball handling and shooting. He works relentlessly when we're back at home. He wants to be in the gym everyday and you've seen how much better he's gotten in the past year with his shooting and ball handling. He's the type of kid who is never going to settle."