Catching up with Gorgui Dieng

So how did every University of Louisville fan’s favorite NBA player fare during his third season with Minnesota Timberwolves?

That would be Gorgui Dieng, of course.

Dieng, who left UofL following the 2013 NCAA championship, continued to improve. He posted his best numbers thus far, playing in all 82 games for Minnesota, in 39 of them as a starter.  He averaged 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.

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Gorgui Dieng’s NCAA shoes up for bids

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 5.41.26 PMWant something to remember Gorgui Dieng by? How about the shoes he was wearing when UofL won its third NCAA basketball championship in April?

Gorgui’s red and gray shoes are up for auction on Ebay at a suggested price of $2,999, with a closing date of July 2nd at 4 p.m. One can pay the suggested price or engage in a “best offer” bidding war for the special footwear.

Described as Derrick Rose adidas split frame style, the shoes are inscribed with the No. 10 on the back of them and include Gorgui’s autograph. They also come with a notary note of authenticity signed by Gorgui on May 3.

The observer started the bidding at 50 bucks, and will keep you updated on how the auction is going.

Back to the Final Four again, Louisville bound for Atlanta

There are magical days in life and Easter Sunday 2013 was one of them.

University of Louisville basketball is headed back to the Final Four again. A phenomenal group of athletes, bound together with a single-minded focus pushing them forward, onward, ever higher.

They have the same look in their collective eyes as their coach, Rick Pitino, possessed and driven, a man in love with the game and his team, a man, a coach, a father figure and motivator possessed and driven, thirsty and hungry, wanting this for himself, his players, his university, his community.

Kevin Ware’s heartbreaking injury only adding to the fire, one more huge source of motivation, as he is carted off the court on a gurney telling his teammates to get their butts to Atlanta. He was already an inspiration with his rapid improvement in recent weeks. Now he becomes another driving force, inspiring his teammates, lifting them up through his personal agony and all their  tears.

Over the years UofL has been involved in hundreds of basketball games, images flashing through the mind of a couple of season finales that brought unprecedented joy to the hearts and minds of Cardinal fans. Games that led into those games, pre-season tourneys, games against No. 1 teams, at home, on the road, a dream game win in Knoxville, they go on and on. Few as sweet as this 85-63 win over Duke in Sunday’s Midwest Regional championship.

Russ Smith and Peyton Siva bringing real meaning to oft-repeated “best back court in America” that has been repeated about each of the top 10 teams this season, probably erasing all doubt that that distinction belongs to them. Russ rubbing off on Peyton, Peyton rubbing off on Russ, the two combining for 39 points in this one, no flinching, no hesitating, just getting after it, Smith winding up with 26 points, Siva with 13 points.

Gorgui Dieng playing like a lottery pick against a certain lottery pick, having too much fun to even think about the pros right now. Why would he ever want to leave UofL anyway?  Gorgui with 14 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two steals, even making Russ Smith-like moves at times.

Chane Behanan may be getting back to his natural self or whatever it was that enabled him to score the game’s first six points, shoving the Duke big guys around and out of the paint on defense. One of this team’s biggest cheerleaders, happy on the floor, cheering on the bench, wanting his team to prevail wherever he happens to be. Pulling off his No. 21 jersey in the last five minutes in favor of Kevin Ware’s No. 5 at the end.

To describe as magic what’s happening with UofL basketball right now would be an injustice. Too many hours of incredible coaching and dedication have gone into this product, and the formula is still being constantly revised and improved, the engineer stoking the coals as this freight train gathers steam headed into Atlanta.

UofL Women bump Baylor, biggest upset in recent NCAA history

The Louisville women’s basketball team was supposed to lose to Baylor by between 35 and 40 points in their Sweet 16 gauntlet but the Lady Cards didn’t want to hear it.

Hear this: Louisville 82, Baylor 81.

Baylor had won 32 consecutive games, the unanimous No. 1 team in the country with a 34-2 record, led by 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner averaging 24 points a game, the second all-time leading scorer in women’s college basketball.
Griner would struggle to get 14 points in this one.

The UofL women would hit 16 three-pointers, setting an NCAA women’s record in the process, Antonita Slaughter connecting on seven of them and Shoni Schimmel with five. Schimmel would wind up with 22 points, Slaughter with 21 points.

Monique Reid hit two frees at the two-second mark to ice the classic.

Few University of Louisville basketball fans will ever forget the sequence of incredible victories on Easter Sunday 2013.

NBA would be a waste for Gorgui Dieng

Gorgui-Dieng-UofLCardGameGorgui Dieng has said more than once that his primary objective at the University of Louisville is getting a college degree.

The sheepskin is what his Mom and Dad want, too, first and foremost. Presumably within four years after enrollment and before he would even consider professional basketball.

Now we get word, however, that Coach Rick Pitino wants Gorgui, along with Chane Behanan and Russ Smith, to submit to the NBA draft to see where they stand. If they don’t get drafted, they will get some valuable feedback on what which parts of their game need work.

Fine with Behanan and Smith. They would go pro in a New York minute, no second thoughts. Their lives revolve around basketball. Pitino says Gorgui’s age might be a concern for NBA teams wanting to develop his talents.

Dieng, we believe, may have higher aspirations than playing in the NBA. Dieng is 23 years old, born January 18, 1990 in Kebemer, Senegal on the west coast of Africa. During press conferences, he has talked about the values of his father, about how nothing worthwhile comes easy, and wanting to return home to help his fellow countrymen.

He may make some ungodly money in the NBA, but it’s difficult to embrace the idea of Gorgui Dieng wasting away on an  NBA bench night after night, hoping for a few minutes of playing time.

He could be sending money home and might even turn out to be a decent player in the pros some day. But the rigors of professional basketball would take a toll on the learning curve while depriving him of daily interaction with others similarly inclined. We’d prefer to see him in an academic atmosphere for at least another year, continuing to prepare himself for a leadership role when he returns home.

Good Louisville shows up, dispatches Pitt 67-64

That’s the team we remember, the one missing in action for a week, one challenging every rotation of the basketball, digging deep, finding itself, dispatching the chess team back to the student activities center.

Good opponent Pittsburgh, which always seeming to bring out the best in the Cardinals. Remember the 69-63 win over No. 1 Pitt during the 2008-09 season? Or the 63-59 overtime over No. 4 Pitt during the 2010-11 season? The last regular season win last year, a 57-54 decision? Even if the relief is all too often temporary.

Backed into a corner after three consecutive losses, playing without starter Wayne Blackshear and the time-consuming Kevin Ware, the old chip on the shoulder had clearly returned, along with respect for any and all Big East competition.

  • Gorgui Dieng back on track, the confusing look replaced by confidence, showing off some new moves, wanting to get to the basket, dunking and blocking shots again, getting his teammates involved. Knowing he has to be involved, making room for himself under the basket, intimidating shooters, blocking shots. Shades of David Padgett at times.
  • Dieng will connect on five of seven field goal attempts, four of six free throws, block five shots, and make four assists for the night. Ready to start growing again.
  • Chane Behanan will combat the Pitt shoving with some of his own, actually battling and getting the ball back a couple of times, drawing vigorous applause from Rick Pitino at times. Creating second chances for himself and his teammates. Two steals, two assists to go with his five rebounds, reaching double figures for a change with 12 points.
  • Russ Smith back to being himself, creating opportunities for himself, putting points on the board for UofL, leading all scorers with 20 points. He may been a little selfish again, with only one assist, but he transforms the offense into an entertaining unit.
  • Peyton Siva, with three turnovers and still reluctant to shoot, but credited with 10 assists. Noteworthy that he was never in foul trouble for the first time in recent memory.
  • Luke Hancock quietly going about his job, letting the game to come to him, pestering people on defense, taking good shots, staying on task, not making mistakes, earning the trust of his coach and teammates.

And here’s Gorgui, in a YouTuber: