The 6-foot-11 junior has packed on 20 pounds of muscle over the summer and comes into the season weighing somewhere around 250 lbs. He led the Big East in shot blocking as a sophomore with 3.9 per game and will look to improve that number after getting bigger and stronger.
Last season, Dieng averaged 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds to go along with his 3.9 blocks per game. As a junior, it wouldn’t be outrageous for Dieng to average a double-double and get his blocks to four or maybe even five per game.
In December 2011, he had five straight double-doubles, averaging 13 points and 14.6 rebounds during that span. Dieng also had ten games of five or more blocks last season, displaying his skills as a dominating force on the defensive end of the court.
The downside to being an aggressive shot blocker is usually it results in being in foul trouble. Dieng is no exception as he had 14 games with four fouls and fouled out of five others.
Coach Rick Pitino will be leaning on Dieng to anchor his defense as the Cardinals look to make another run to the Final Four. However, last year proved that Louisville is vulnerable if Dieng gets into foul trouble. In second round action against #13 Davidson Wildcats, Dieng had four fouls in only 19 minutes of action as the Wildcats hung tight in a close win by the Cardinals.
Dieng proved his worth when he can stay on the court as he held his own against Anthony Davis and the Kentucky Wildcats. In Louisville’s F 69-61 Final Four loss to its state rival, Dieng posted 7 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks.
His offensive game needs work and history suggests a player his age (23 in January) doesn’t suddenly develop an all-star post game. Regardless, his size and athleticism allows him to finish around the rim when given the opportunity and that’s good enough for a player that can protect the rim as well as he can.
The Big East teams have big problems trying to score with Dieng on the court. The game plan will be to attack him and get him in foul trouble early.
If he can learn to be aggressive while toning down the bad fouls, Pitino might capture his first championship with the Cardinals.