No. 2 Louisville had a tough matchup against No. 5 Duke in tonight’s Battle 4 Atlantis title game (NBC Sports Network, 9:00 PM ET) already, but the margin for error just got a lot thinner.
Gorgui Dieng, the team’s second-leading rebounder (8.0 rpg) and leading shot blocker (2.0 bpg), will sit out tonight’s game with a wrist injury suffered in the tournament semifinal against No. 13 Missouri, which the Cards won 84-61. Dieng injured his left wrist in a fall during the earlier game, in which he had 5 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a block in 24 minutes of play.
Louisville SID Kenny Kline tweeted the bad news to fans at 5:00 PM eastern time.
— Kenny Klein (@KKcards) November 24, 2012
Kline also noted that 6’10”, 250-lb. sophomore Zach Price will take Dieng’s place in the starting lineup. Price is averaging a meager seven minutes and 0.3 points per game so far this year, so his start may be merely a formality, so that the team’s second-tallest player (after the 6’11” Dieng) can handle the tip-off. Expect to see much more of George Mason transfer Luke Hancock, who shook off his early struggles to score 19 points on 6-9 shooting against the Tigers on Friday.
Hancock’s shooting touch will be nice for Louisville, if it’s on like it was in the semis. But the lack of a skilled defensive big man in the middle may very well cost the Cards dearly against Duke’s Mason Plumlee, who has averaged a double-double so far this season against tough competition.