To say the least it was not a good weekend for Louisville fans in regards to news about key players and wrist injuries.
On Saturday it was starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who broke his left wrist, and on Sunday night it was announced by the program that the basketball team will be without an important player for the foreseeable future.
Starting center Gorgui Dieng, who sat out the Cardinals’ loss to Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game with the wrist injury, broke the scaphoid bone in his left wrist taking a charge in Friday’s semifinal against Missouri.
According to the school release Dieng will see a hand specialist on Monday, and he’ll determine the timeframe of Dieng’s recovery.
Dieng, who was on the preseason lists for both the Wooden and Naismith awards, is averaging 8.2 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per contest for the 5-1 Cardinals, who are off until Saturday when they host Illinois State.
Losing their best interior defender is a tough blow for the Cardinals, especially if Dieng were to be out until the start of Big East play. Louisville still has non-conference games against Memphis (December 15) and Kentucky (December 29), and that December 4 contest against College of Charleston shouldn’t be overlooked either.
But Rick Pitino isn’t lacking for depth. Chane Behanan, Montrezl Harrell and Stephen Van Treese all saw action in the Bahamas, and now they’ll be asked to do more. If they’re ready for more responsibility the Cardinals should be in good shape, especially when considering perimeter weapons such as Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.