Gorgui Dieng and his Louisville University basketball team relied on offensive rebounding to keep things close before fading in a 69-61 loss to in-state rival Kentucky in the NCAA Menâ€™s Final Four in New Orleans on Saturday night. Kentucky followed that up two days later with a win over Kansas University to earn the 2012 menâ€™s basketball national championship.
Kentucky went up early, but the Cardinals kept clawing back, turning 19 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points to twice rally from double-digit deficits. â€œThey offensive rebounded against us better than any team we played this year,â€ Wildcats coach John Calipari said. â€œThey never stopped playing. They got up into our bodies, created turnovers and gave themselves a chance to win.â€
Senegalâ€™s Dieng finished with 7 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocked shots, and 2 steals in his duel with Kentuckyâ€™s all-Universe star Anthony Davis. Dieng appeared a bit jittery, playing timidly instead of with his usual aggressiveness. He missed a two-handed dunk on an open drive down the lane and seemed unprepared whenever the ball came to him.When Dieng struggled early, his coach sat knee-to-knee with him in what appeared to be a keep-your-head-up moment in the first half.
Now the sophomore center will have to contemplate his future. The seven-footer is one of the top defensive players in the country, and may decide to turn professional. However, most onlookers still feel that Dieng is rough around the edges, especially on offense, and that he will stay at Louisville at least another year to round out his game.