Hoops Wrap-Up: Mangok Mathiang

Cardinal Authority hopes you enjoy our "Hoops Wrap-Up" series of stories, featuring a look at each player on the men and women's teams on the University of Louisville rosters. A look back at the season and forward to the future: Our fifth men's feature is on freshman Mangok Mathiang:

Mangok Mathiang

6-10, Fr., Center

Melbourne, Australia

Averages: Mathiang, who sat out the 2012-13 season but did practice with the Cardinals, averaged 3.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and had 51 blocked shots, 15 assists and 13 steals in 14.7 minutes a game.

Overview: Mangok Mathiang didn't start the season in the starting lineup but was inserted after the first seven games and actually started 14 games out of 37 for the Cardinal this season. Mathiang was then replaced by Stephan Van Treese again in early February in the lineup and was used as a backup the rest of the season. He had flashes of stellar play, including a solid effort in the final game of the season against Kentucky. Mathiang has the talent and the skill set and showed that at times, but still needs to add strength and stamina. He's also one of the fastest players on the team and was very good on defense for the Cardinals.

Best game: Mathiang started the season with a seven-point, 10-rebound effort against the College of Charleston, but probably his best overall game was 13 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots against Western Kentucky. He was active and very intense on both ends of the floor against WKU and that showed again in 17 minutes against Kentucky in the season finale.

Projected future: Mathiang will be the starting center heading into next season and will keep the role unless one of the newcomers shows the coaching staff they're ready for prime time. Mathiang had a comparable freshman season to Gorgui Dieng and the staff actually feels like he's on a great path to future success. He's got the talent and has the skill set to become a star for the Cardinals.

Quotable: "Mangok really came on and played some good minutes for us, now we just have to get some weight on him, get him stronger," U of L coach Rick Pitino. Mathiang added that, "I feel like I improved a lot from the start of the season, I know I will have a bigger role next year with the guys who are leaving. I have to keep working hard and I have to improve."

Fun stat:Folks always try to compare Mathiang and former U of L center Gorgui Dieng and honestly the freshman numbers are very comparable. As a freshman, Dieng averaged 15.6 minutes, 5.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks. So, Dieng averaged a tad more in each category with a few more minutes.

Bottom line: Mathiang has to put on some weight and must get stronger this season to be able to take the beating and banging of a starting center the entire season. The freshmen are going to be good and will add a lot to the roster, but the Cardinals will be much better off is Mathiang improves enough to keep the starting center position all season. He can be a star.

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