Dieng confident he'll play against UConn

The biggest question for Louisville Monday night against UConn is whether or not Gorgui Dieng, who sprained his ankle in Saturday's win over Rutgers, will play. Though Dieng said after the game he'll play against the Huskies, Rick Pitino says it's doubtful.

The big question heading into Louisville's showdown with UConn on Monday night is whether starting center Gorgui Dieng will play against the Huskies.

Dieng left Saturday's game against Rutgers early in the second with a sprained ankle, but returned to finish the contest, a 78-66 win for the Cardinals.

"That was a lot of heart that he showed," Rick Pitino said. "The referee came over to me and said, ‘Rick, he's got a bad one, all his weight fell on his ankle.' I said ‘I appreciate that' and then I said, ‘Gorgui, are you ready to get back into the game?' He said, ‘Yes, give me a minute.' He's in a lot of pain. That was a great performance by him."

Dieng hurt his ankle five minutes into the final half, went to the bench for a few minutes where trainers re-taped his ankle before he returned to action. With Dieng on the bench, Rutgers cut Louisville's lead to 53-50. As soon as he returned, the Cards went on a game-clinching 12-0 run in which Dieng snagged three rebounds and made one of his game-high seven blocks.

Though Dieng played 31 minutes against the Scarlet Knights, finishing with 8 points and four rebounds, Pitino called him doubtful to play against the Huskies.

"We won't know anything on the sprained ankle until the next morning," Pitino said. "What I have seen in the past is that you can play on it but then it will swell. If what the referee said happened was true, then it will be difficult to play. Now if it is a high ankle sprain, then he is not playing. If it is not a high ankle sprain, he will take off tomorrow and rest it. I would say it is doubtful at best. It will be a very difficult challenge (to replace him)."

Louisville will need the 6'11 sophomore against a powerful UConn frontcourt that features 6'11 Andre Drummond, who is projected as one of the top NBA Draft picks, 6'9 Roscoe Smith and 6'9 Alex Oriahki.

"I think if you go ask him, he will say ‘he'll play," Pitino said. "He's going to ice it all night to try and keep the swelling down, and we'll rest him tomorrow and see what happens."

If Dieng, who leads the Big East and ranks sixth nationally in blocked shots at 3.4 per game, can't play, Louisville will likely go with 6'10 freshman Zach Price, who played sparingly against Rutgers. Dieng, who has 81 blocks this season, ranks sixth on Louisville's single-season blocked shots list.

"One thing that Gorgui does that doesn't show up in the stat sheet is that he bothers people's shots," Pitino said. "Nobody gets a good look at the rim. In our defense, he is the center of the wheel. We all switch off and he is the center. What we try to do is disguise our zone and play man and try to stop them from taking the ball to Gorgui. We have protected him pretty well because he hasn't been in foul trouble in a long time."

Dieng told reporters in the locker room after the game that he is "100 percent" confident that he will play against UConn.

"If it's (up) to me I will play," Dieng said.


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