One of the biggest games of the early season will now feature one of the countries best big men.
After missing the last seven games with a broken wrist, Louisville center Gorgui Dieng will return to action against rival Kentucky on Saturday. One of the nation’s best shot-blockers, Dieng suffered the injury in a win over then number-13 Missouri on November 23, and after returning to practice on Wednesday, has head coach Rick Pitino “100 percent” certain that the 6-foot-11 junior will play this weekend.
“He’s in great shape,” said Pitino, whose number-four Cardinals suffered their only loss of the season in the first game that Dieng missed, against current number-one Duke. “His defensive timing is off, but he looks good offensively.”
Despite going 6-1 without their fear-striking big man, Louisville has most definitely missed Dieng’s 8.2 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game over the past month. There also couldn’t be a better time for the star center to return, as Louisville hosts bitter in-state rival Kentucky on Saturday, and then kicks off the Big East season against the very competitive Providence next Tuesday.
Kentucky has defeated Louisville each of the last four times they’ve played, including the two times that Dieng played against them last season. Despite the losses, Dieng did manage to block nine shots in last season’s meetings, and will look to build on his gritty performances from a year ago.
Saturday’s game will also be special for Dieng, as it’s being reported that his parents will be in attendance – from their home country of Senegal- for the first time in Dieng’s three year career.
Should be a special afternoon.
For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth