Van Treese a solid fill-in for Cardinals

Senior Stephan Van Treese has become a major player for the University of Louisville basketball team since the injury to Gorgui Dieng. Cardinal Authority takes a look at Van Treese and his new expanded role with the Cardinals.

When University of Louisville junior center Gorgui Dieng went to the sidelines with a broken wrist, many wondered who would step up and take his place.

U of L head coach Rick Pitino said he would use sophomore Zach Price and senior Stephan Van Treese, noting that he was "very confident" with Van Treese.

Pitino was spot on.

The 6-foot-9 Van Treese, a native of Indianapolis who almost left the program in June, has been a key figure for the Cardinals in the three games that Dieng has been sidelined. Van Treese is averaging 3.5 points and 7.5 rebounds a game during that span when the Cardinals are 2-1.

"Stephan was awesome," Pitino said after Tuesday's win at College of Charleston. "He's not Gorgui but he's doing a good job.

"He's the type of guy that the more you see him, the more warts you see but he does a lot of things very well."

Van Treese, who missed last season with a knee injury, said he's just glad to be getting quality minutes for the Cardinals.

"I am excited to step in and fill that role," Van Treese said. "I do hate it for Gorgui. But I have been here for four years and play in practice all the time.

"I know everything. It's really not that hard, so I have the experience. It's just I have to step up and do it more now."

As a freshman, Van Treese averaged just 2.8 minutes a game in 16 games but as a sophomore he averaged 2.9 points and played in 33 games. Van Treese started 12 games during that season and averaged 3.5 rebounds in 13 minutes a contest.

After missing last season with a knee injury, Van Treese said in early June that he was going to transfer from the program. Van Treese was injured last season and U of L had 14 players on scholarship after the late signing of Montrezl Harrell, so Van Treese opted to leave.

"I just felt like at the time it was better for me to leave," Van Treese said. "At the time, I was thinking about playing Division II. Then, I realized I didn't want to play Division II, so it would have been a waste for me to sit our somewhere (Division I).

So less than a month after saying he was leaving, Van Treese was back at U of L. Rakeem Buckles had transferred to Florida International, leaving a spot open.

"I haven't thought much about it now, but I am just happy to be part of the team," Van Treese said. "Coach and I talked a lot and for a week I wasn't going to come back, but I didn't want to sit out again. So, we both thought it was in my best interest to come back. I am glad I did."

Van Treese said he's "not Gorgui" but feels healthy and is hoping to keep up his solid play, noting he has to "get more confident on offense."

"He's very physical, runs the floor well and will bang with people," Pitino said. "He does have some weaknesses, but that doesn't mean he can't do well for us."

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