|The Louisville Cardinals have gone 3-1 without the services of starting C Gorgui Dieng. (US Presswire)|
Louisville center Gorgui Dieng fractured the scaphoid bone in his left wrist in late November, and his return date was set at four to six weeks. Dieng, however, progressed nicely, and coach Rick Pitino said Wednesday that the junior had his cast removed and has been cleared to practice Sunday.
“He could play in the Western Kentucky [Dec. 22] game if he's in shape,” Pitino said on his radio show Wednesday night. “That's the biggest thing, not the hand, if he's in shape to play.”
The Cardinals haven't shown much rust without Dieng, falling by five to Duke and winning their next three. Dieng is most valuable on the defensive end, though Louisville has wavered little in his absence. The Cards are the highest-rated defensive team in the country -- and it's not really close. Freshman forward Montrezl Harrell and senior forward Stephan Van Treese have filled in admirably, which, at least, will provide Louisville with solid options if Dieng gets in foul trouble -- something he is wont to do.
But for now, Pitino's team will be forced to go without Dieng for just a few games more, including Saturday's matchup at Memphis. It has yet to be determined just how effective Dieng will be, playing with a brace on his left wrist. Hence, Pitino plans to ease Dieng back in to action next Saturday.
"I'd love to get 15-18 minutes out of him [against WKU] to prepare him for the Kentucky game,” Pitino said.
The Dec. 29 game against Kentucky, appears to be the target return date for Dieng, with a simple tune-up coming a week prior. The Wildcats will visit Louisville and Pitino will try to get his first win in five tries over a John Calipari-coached Kentucky team.
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