By Annie Moore
Defending the national championship is the herculean task before this year’s
men’s basketball team. Replacing integral team member and now Minnesota
Timberwolf Gorgui Dieng, that’s the mission for Stephan Van Treese, Mangok
Mathiang and Akoy Agau.
The redshirt senior Van Treese will lead the charge, he saw 415 minutes of play
in the Cards’ run to the national championship, and averaged 3.1 rebounds a
game. Pitino has said he’s going to start Van Treese in the five spot in lieu of the
combination of Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrel —Behanan has since been
indefinitely dismissed from the team.
But Van Treese won’t be alone; he’ll have Mathiang, the redshirt freshman and
true freshman Agau to share minutes with in the five spot. Mathiang played 25
minutes in the Card’s exhibition game against Pikeville and pulled down nine
boards. Agau saw 13 minutes of play in the exhibition game. In Mathiang’s on
words, their rebounding will be integral to the Cards’ success this season.
“Rebounding is the key to everything, it’s the key to scoring, it’s the base of
defense and it makes your defense stronger,” Mathiang said. “If you don’t rebound
there is always a chance for the other team to score and if you rebound on the
offensive end there is always a greater chance for you to score. Rebounding is a
very big key to the game of basketball.”
Replacing Dieng’s average of 9.4 rebounds per game and team presence will be no
small task, but the combination of Van Treese, Mathiang and Agau should be able
to hit its rhythm and provide a solid five spot to anchor this Louisville team as it
defends the national title.