Twenty-five seconds into the game, Gorgui Dieng picks up his first foul.
A costly one. Dieng’s time in this game will be limited, no way he’s around at the end. Rick Pitno knows it instinctively, as does his countpart, Mike Brey of Notre Dame.
Dieng has made himself the indispensable player, the one the University of Louisville can’t do without. He’s mastered much of the offensive and defensive phases of the game. It’s those off-guard moments, when those natural instincts take over, over which he has to exert self-control. When someone snatches ball, let it go, it’s over, gone, get back on defense.
When Dieng leaves the lineup, he takes half of U of L’s defensive presence with him, leaving UofL vulnerable in the middle. No one with his post moves, no one with his quickness, no intimidation factors, no shot blocking abilities.
And apparently no one competent of providing him any relief, certanly not Rakeem Buckles or Zach Price at this point.
Buckles is lacking any semblance of a shot, no matter where he puts the ball up, let alone those over the shoulder shots under the basket. That’s a difficult shot for even the best players, let it go. Free throw shooting? Forget it. Granted, he’s still getting back in shape after the knee injury but he seems to lack self control and coordination.
Zach Price, the big 6-foot-10, 235-pound freshman, is not getting off the bench anytime soon. He hasn’t seen the basketball court in almost a month.
Dieng would collect the inevitable fifth foul in the first overtime in the 67-65 loss, having played only 27 minutes in a 50-minute game.
Missed, and missing in action.