University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino raised a few eyebrows recently with a blog post, saying senior center Mangok Mathiang wasn't likely to return from a foot injury.
But Pitino tells Cardinal Authority that fans shouldn't fret.
Mathiang, a 6-foot-10 co-captain for the Cardinals, missed the final two-thirds of the 2015-16 season after fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during Louisville's Dec. 19 win over Western Kentucky. He was recently put in a cast.
"We all made the decision because we have Anas (Mahmoud) and Matz (Stockman) that we could take our time with Mangok," Pitino said. "We're taking the ultimate conservative route with him. It was the same injury as (former U of L football player) DeVante Parker, except DeVante Parker broke the screw (in his foot) and Mangok did not.
"We put him in a cast, which we didn't need to do. We are going to error on the side of caution."
Mathiang had surgery to repair the bone on Dec. 20 and resumed light workouts in February. Pitino said in June that Mathiang had some scar tissue cleaned out of his foot and has only been watching since then.
"We know what we're getting with Mangok," Pitino said. "He's been around and he's going to give us what he's going to give us. So we decided we would rather spend all of our time developing Anas and Matz.
"Mangok will then be 100 percent when he's playing his senior year. By the time we play our first game, he might not be 100 percent but he will be close to it and should be good for the whole season."
Mathiang averaged 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks a game before the injury.