Gorgui Dieng

Kevin Ware returns in Louisville’s romp over Cornell

1 Comment

The game was never in question. Louisville jumped out to a 22-2 advantage in the early stages of the first half to put Cornell away early, ultimately winning 99-54.

The story of the night, however, was Kevin Ware’s return to the floor. Ware played 13 minutes and scored just five points, but to see him effortlessly running certainly was encouraging. He was 2-3 from the floor, and pulled down three rebounds to go along with two assists.

It wasn’t just seeing Ware back on the floor, it was how he moved out there. He drove to the basket without any hesitation and looks to be back at 100% — in fact, it’s safe to say he is without a doubt because Rick Pitino wouldn’t let him touch the floor if he wasn’t at full-go.

While Ware was the story for the sole fact that he is back, Wayne Blackshear and Montrezl Harrell led the way. Blackshear had 20 points on just eight shots; he was 4-6 from 3PT. Harrell had just seven points, but corralled 14 rebounds.

More than anything, what makes this Cardinal team so potent is just how deep they are. Having Chane Behanan, Luke Hancock, and Kevin Ware all coming off the bench tonight bodes well for the rest of the season. Given the pressing nature of Rick Pitino’s defense, having depth is an absolute must. Fifth year senior Stephan Van Treese, who has been nothing more than a role player for his career, contributed 10 points and seven rebounds.

Van Treese was used to spell Gorgui Dieng last year, and he filled that role nicely. Still, he has flown under the radar with many focusing on Behanan and Harrell ahead of him. Van Treese won’t be counted on to score, but he’s active on defense and a strong rebounder.

The one downside — if you can find one in a 99-54 victory — was Louisville’s shooting at the free throw line, where they were just 18-32.

Louisville next plays at home against Hartford on Tuesday.

Newcomers impress in Louisville’s intrasquad scrimmage

Leave a comment

Despite losing Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng, two key pieces from last year’s championship team, Louisville returns a slew of talented players that will have Rick Pitino and Co. challenging for a national championship once again. Player of the Year candidate Russ Smith is back for his senior season, as are Chane Behanan and Luke Hancock among others.

Three key pieces that weren’t on the floor last year will be relied upon to help fill the void that Siva has left, namely junior college transfer Chris Jones. Rob Dauster called Jones one of the top “X-factors” for the coming season, and posited that many may be overlooking just how important Siva was to last year’s squad. Siva was often the one ensuring Russ Smith played within himself — at least, he tried to — and the onus this season may fall on Jones to accomplish that.

It is more than just Jones, however. Freshmen Terry Rozier and Anton Gill will be relied on, as well.

After an intrasquad scrimmage this past weekend, Rick Pitino told The Courier Journal:

“Rozier is as cool a customer as you’ll see. I don’t think Chris played particularly well tonight, but I’ve watched him in practice do some things that are just outstanding. I think Anton is a smooth basketball player…With all three of them, they don’t rattle. They know how to play the game.”

Anyone who watched Louisville play last year knew they hung their hat on the defensive end. For all the attention Smith receives on the offensive end with his explosive first step and propensity to get to the basket, he’s also one of the best perimeter defenders out there.

Pitino’s defense isn’t easy to grasp, but Smith is pleased with what he has seen of the newcomers thus far: “No new guy knows our defensive intensity, and that’s no disrespect to them. We play a certain way that guys have to pick up on. But they’re coming along. I think they’re the best class to come in and pick stuff up that I’ve seen.”

Highlights from the Red vs. White scrimmage are found below:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzcl1WKN4dI&w=420&h=315]

Late Night Snacks: The last, first, Big Monday as we know it

Leave a comment

A light slate of games was highlighted by two Top 5 teams on national television. It’s also a night to remember because, to hardcore college hoop-heads, it’s the last, first Big Monday as we know it. For now, enjoy the rundown. It’s Late Night Snacks.

Game of the night

No. 1 Louisville 73, UConn 58 – In the Cardinals’ first game as no. 1 in the nation, they started slow but shot 60-percent in the second half and held the Huskies to 24 second half points. Russ Smith had 23 points and Gorgui Dieng had 16 rebounds. Omar Calhoun had 20 in the loss for UConn.

Games of note

No. 4 Kansas 61, Baylor 44 – This was seen as a game that Baylor could disprove some theories about their team to this point. Instead they shot 23.2-percent overall and 28.6-percent from three to lead to a loss in Lawrence.

Southern 88, Mississippi Valley State 54 – It’s not much of a story nationally, but this Southern team was 4-26 two seasons ago, then turned it around with a 17-14 season last year. In the SWAC, mind you. They’re now 12-6 in 2012-13 after the win over a floundering Delta Devils squad.

Georgia Southern 70, Davidson 57 – The Wildcats suffered their first loss in the  SoCon with this one. De’Mon Brooks was held to six points and the Panthers shot 53.1-percent from the field. This could come back to bite Bob McKillop late in the season.

Starred

Russ Smith, Louisville – He started the night with 15 of the Cardinals first 24 points against UConn. He finished with 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting.

Ben McLemore, Kansas – He just keeps adding to his legend. The redshirt freshman finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two assists and two steals in the win over Baylor.

Trey Sumler, Western Carolina – The Catamounts guard went for 32 points on 9-of-19 shooting and a 9-of-12 night from the free throw line in a loss to Elon.

Malcolm Miller, Southern – Southern’s turnaround from two seasons ago, when they were under an NCAA postseason tournament ban due to low APR scores, is amazing. Miller had himself a night for the Jaguars with a 28-point, 10-rebound performance in the win over Mississippi Valley State.

Raymond Penn, Texas Southern – It was full night of SWAC games and Penn had the best game of the night in the conference. Even though it was against possibly the worst team in college basketball, Grambling State, Penn finished with 10 points and 14 assists in the 90-59 win.

Struggled

Pierre Jackson, Baylor – He was the most productive player on the court for the Bears, but he still finished with 10 points on 2-of-8 shooting in the loss at Kansas. He committed four turnovers.

De’Mon Brooks, Davidson –  Brooks, who averages 14 points per game, finished with six points on 2-of-8 shooting in the loss to Georgia State.

Stuffing the stat sheet

Prince Okoroh, Howard – A big night, even in a loss. The sophomore finished with 15 points, six steals, five rebounds and two assists in 54-49 loss to Norfolk State.

Conference season is in full swing, folks. It only gets better from here.

David Harten is the editor and founder of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Louisville center Gorgui Dieng will reportedly undergo x-ray on injured wrist Wednesday

3 Comments

Louisville shot-blocker Gorgui Dieng will reportedly undergo an x-ray on his injured left wrist to gauge the progress of his recovery Wednesday, TheCardinalConnect.com is reporting.

Dieng has been out of action since Nov. 23 when he fell awkwardly on defense against Missouri in the Battle 4 Atlantis, breaking the scaphoid bone in his left wrist. It was initially ruled that he would need four to six weeks to recover. Reports earlier in the month indicated that Louisville’s Jan. 2 game against Providence could be the most likely date for Dieng’s return, but the Cardinals face Kentucky Saturday and would like to have the 6-11 defensive stopper in the lineup.

In Dieng’s absence, Louisville is 6-1, having lost only to the nation’s No. 1 team, Duke. Other than a scare from Illinois State, the Cardinals have had little difficulty on their current six-game winning streak.

Prior to his injury, Dieng was averaging 8.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. If he is able to play Saturday against John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats, it will shift much of the burden off of Stephan Van Treese and Zach Price, who would be tabbed with neutralizing freshman frontcourt duo Nerlens Noel and Willy Cauley-Stein.

According to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com, Dieng will practice Wednesday, as well.

Tip-off against Kentucky is at 4:00 p.m. ET Saturday.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Louisville shot-blocker Gorgui Dieng likely to sit out with injury until after New Year’s Day

Leave a comment

Louisville center Gorgui Dieng will likely miss at least another two weeks with a wrist injury, Cardinals’ coach Rick Pitino announced Tuesday, as reported by Kent Taylor of NBC affiliate WAVE-TV in Kentucky.

Dieng has already missed five games after falling awkwardly and injuring the wrist Nov. 23 against Missouri in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. His absence was felt most strongly in Louisville’s loss to Duke, when Blue Devils’ center Mason Plumlee went for 16 points and 7 rebounds.

The 6-10 native of Senegal was averaging 8.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks at the time of his injury.

Reports over the weekend said that Dieng was looking to return early from the injury, with the cast being taken off his wrist. He was already slated not to dress for Friday’s match-up with Florida international, but Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky seemed like a possibility.

“He could play in the Western Kentucky game if he’s in shape,” said Pitino at the time. “That’s the biggest thing, not the hand, if he’s in shape to play.”

That is now not the case.

Pitino reportedly is aiming for Dieng to return Jan. 2 against Providence, which would be within the original 4-6 weeks that Dieng was expected to miss.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng getting set to return

Leave a comment

In Louisville’s lone loss of the year – a 76-71 loss to Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game – the Cardinals were without starting center Gorgui Dieng, who was sideline with a wrist injury.

Dieng was scheduled to be out for 4-6 weeks, requiring surgery to fix a broken scaphoid bone. However, the 6-foot-11 junior may be set for an early return, according to his coach, Rick Pitino.

C.L. Brown of the Courier-Journal is reporting that the cast is off his wrist and he has started to participate in individual workouts., in hopes of joining the team for Sunday’s practice. Although he is back on the floor, he is still is far needs to get back to form as Louisville’s defensive force inside. According to Brown, Dieng is favoring his left wrist, not dribbling with his left hand or even going up for block shots with it.

Dieng will not be available for Saturday’s game against Memphis and Pitino has already said Dieng will not suit up for Wednesday’s game against Florida International. However, his return could happen as soon next Saturday against Western Kentucky.

“He could play in the Western Kentucky game if he’s in shape,” said Pitino. “That’s the biggest thing, not the hand, if he’s in shape to play.”

Pitino would go onto say Dieng would likely go 15-18 minutes. This would give Dieng one game back in action before a Dec. 29 matchup with Kentucky. Dieng hasn’t played since Nov. 23 in a win against Missouri. The Cardinals’ big man injured his wrist, while trying to draw a charge. He  was averaging 8.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 2.4 block shots in five games for Louisville.

The Cardinals haven’t really needed Dieng since his injury, surviving an upset bid from Illinois State, followed easy wins against the College of Charleston and University of Missouir-Kansas City

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne