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July 12, 2012
With 128 blocks last season, Senegalese sophomore Gorgui Dieng set a new Louisville record for blocks in a season, passing Pervis Ellison's old record. Could he swat even more shots in 2012-13?
"If Gorgui stays on the floor and stays out of foul trouble, which he can do because he is a lot smarter these days than he was a year ago," Pitino said. "... he is learning to, what I call, wall up. He is learning to wall up at the right time, block shots at the right time, when to block and when to stay on the ground."
Dieng started just 10 games as a freshman, but was third in the Big East and 53rd nationally with 1.9 blocks per game. Dieng was fourth in the nation in total blocks last season with 128, behind only Kentucky's Anthony Davis (186), Kansas' Jeff Withey (140) and Northwestern State's William Mosley (130).
With Davis gone to the pros and Mosley graduated, Withey, Dieng, Youngstown State's Damian Eargle and Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel are expected to contend for the blocks title in 2012-13.
"This is young man who came from Senegal so he took up basketball later in life," Pitino said of Dieng. "It was a matter of learning the system."
Louisville freshman Montrezl Harrell, who is just 6-foot-8 but has a 7-4 wingspan, could also be a shot-blocking threat for the Cardinals. But Pitino said Harrell isn't anything like Dieng at this point.
"Montrezl is (a shot blocker), but I don't think there is a player in the country that will block more shots than Gorgui this year," Pitino said. "Nobody is ready to be Gorgui Dieng. He has a unique ability."