Louisville’s Dieng to start against Kentucky
by C.L. Brown, USA TODAY Sports
University of Louisville center Gorgui Dieng will be back in the starting lineup Saturday when the No. 3 Cardinals play host to Kentucky, and there are no limitations to his playing time, coach Rick Pitino said Wednesday night.
“There’s no easing with the Big East coming up, we’re going to start him,” Pitino said. “Even coming off a month layoff he’s still a lot better than what we have at that position mainly because he communicates so well. He’s smarter than everybody. It’s not just the physical part, he talks constantly. He tells people where to go. He picks up the scouting report perfectly.”
Dieng has been out of the lineup since breaking a bone in his wrist in the Cards’ win over Missouri on Nov. 23 – a string of seven games. Pitino said he probably could have returned to face Florida International on Dec. 19, when Dieng told him he was ready to play.
“It would have been nice to get him some playing time, but we erred on the side of caution,” Pitino said. “The athlete knows best. He said he was fine to play in that game, but we said let’s get one more X-ray before you do it and he did it.”
Pitino said the doctor, for good measure, “apparently took a pillow and hit his hand as hard as he could, and Gorgui felt nothing so he’s ready to go.”
In the recent history of the UK series Pitino has had to make game-planning adjustments for players who were not able to play. Now he’ll find himself adding to the rotation.
Pitino said Dieng’s conditioning was “outstanding,” because he’s spent time running the past eight days.
“If he stays out of foul trouble, without question, he’s in shape to go the whole game,” Pitino said. “He’s in great shape right now. We got up a lot of moves, a lot of shots in the past week; it’s just his defensive timing is a little off.”
Dieng might feel like his timing couldn’t be better. His parents Momar Dieng and Seynabou Diagne have made the trip from Senegal to watch him play.