By Sam Draut
Stephan Van Treese won’t be a thousand-point scorer or rank among the top rebounders in Louisville history, but the fifth year senior has contributed during the most successful era in the Cardinal program since the early 1980’s.
Van Treese came to Louisville from Indianapolis in 2009. He was ranked 67th nationally by USA Today and was an AP All-State selection.
Though he played sparingly as a freshman, Van Treese first left his mark as a hustle man when he came off the bench against UConn and had a steal and layup, helping to trigger the Cardinals to an 82-69 victory in front of a sold out Freedom Hall crowd.
“As a freshman I showed everyone I could come off the bench and be a spark. I have tried to do that throughout my career,” Van Treese said.
During his sophomore year, Van Treese began to see expanded minutes, starting 12 games and appearing in 33 contests. He averaged 4.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in Big East Conference games and shot 70.5 percent from the field during conference play.
Van Treese struggled with injuries his junior year in 2011-12, Louisville’s first trip to the Final Four since 2005.
But, last season Van Treese played big minutes during Louisville’s run to the National Championship.
“Last year I came off the bench and contributed, I backed up Gorgui (Dieng),” Van Treese said.
Van Treese averaged 11.2 rebounds per 40 minutes, which was second best to Dieng. In the Big East tournament against Villanova, Van Treese pulled in eight rebounds. He averaged 3.7 rebounds in nine postseason contests.
Now in his final season at Louisville, the 6-foot-9 forward is playing 20.2 minutes per game and pulling in 5.1 rebounds a contest.
“Everything has slowed down in a sense, I know what to expect,” Van Treese said. “I know what to expect throughout the season.”
In the past eight games Van Treese has 49 rebounds, averaging 8.2 rebounds and four points per game.
“Physically I have gotten much bigger and I have gotten more confident in my game being able to play more,” Van Treese said. “This year I have been filling in the role I’m supposed to — being a hustler.”
As a senior, Van Treese has shared the five spot with redshirt freshman Mangok Mathiang, but even with the shared playing time, he sees the two putting forth a collective effort.
“It is not just me, it is me and Mangok. We have to be rebounding and doing the defensive things for the bigs,” Van Treese said. “We don’t have to put up big scoring numbers, but we do need to score when we have the opportunity.”
With a Final Four and National Championship under his belt, Van Treese has a strict idea of what happens next.
“Winning it all is the main goal, we want to continue our win streak and go into the conference tournament and win that. We want to get a good seed,” Van Treese said.
“It has been a grind,” Van Treese said. “This is my fifth year and hopefully it is another successful year.”
And if he needs a career tidbit besides winning basketball games, Van Treese is the final player to suit up for the Louisville program to play in Freedom Hall as a Cardinal.