Senior guard Taquan Dean sprained his left ankle in a game against Providence on Jan. 7. After the Jan. 25 game against conference rival Cincinnati, Dean’s stats did not look like those of an injured player.
In just 27 minutes of play, Dean contributed to the Cards 67-50 win over the Bearcats with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. He was 4 of 9 from behind the arc.
Then came another steal that led to a Brandon Jenkins layup and finally a third three-pointer. Within a stretch of 1:26, Dean had scored nine points and gotten the steal that produced two more. Dean’s outburst was all part of a 16-1 run that gave the Cards a 52-30 lead with 12 minutes left in the game.
“He was great,” Head Coach Rick Pitino said. “He’s really out of shape. I kept trying to get him 30-second blows, but under the circumstances, we’d have struggled without him.”
Dean ended the game with a total of 1,357 points for his career as a Cardinal, which moved him into 24th place on the school’s all-time scoring list, passing former Cardinals John Reuther, Junior Bridgeman and Rickey Gallon.
In Louisville’s next game at Rutgers, the Cards struggled to keepup on the road. Although the Cards fell short 65-56 on Jan. 28, Dean again led the team with 13 points on five of 13 shooting in 27 minutes. He played with a high ankle sprain and suffered cramps in his calves but still managed to help U of L stay in the game.
“We just made mental mistakes,” Pitino said. “It wasn’t the physical part that hurt us. We’re disappointed we’re losing, but these players are doing their job. They’re working hard.”
Dean had struggled before the injury and appears to be more focused since getting injured. With or without Dean, the team must improve because the rest of the road will only going to get tougher. The Cards are currently in 12th place out of 16 teams in the Big East and in serious jeopardy of missing not only the NCAA tournament but also the Big East Conference tournament. Only the top 12 make it to the conference tournament.
Next up for the Cardinals is a visit to Freedom Hall for Notre Dame on Feb. 4. Louisville will then travel to Cincinnati on Feb. 6, where the Cards will be looking for revenge after their 17 point thumping at Freedom Hall last week.
The Cards will then end the regular season schedule with home games against South Florida, DePaul and Marquette and have to travel to Syracuse, West Virginia, and Connecticut.
Freshman forward Terrence Williams flies high to grab the ball against Cincinnati. Louisville may need more acrobatics from Williams if Taquan Dean stays hurt.