Wristpocalypse…Wristmageddon…whichever your flavor, this has been a rough weekend for Louisville sports. Saturday afternoon, Teddy Bridgewater, the most important UofL football player in years breaks his non-throwing wrist. Then, late tonight, it’s revealed that Gorgui Dieng, starting center for the Top-5 UofL Basketball team, broke his non-shooting wrist.
Gorgui is expected to miss anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the report, and that absence will be glaring. On defense, on offense, in the locker room. His presence in the lane allowed guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva the freedom to take risks on defense knowing they had an eraser in support. Stephen Van Treese played fantastic against Duke on Saturday night, but that type of performance should not be expected on a regular basis. Defensively and on the boards, the combination of SVT and Zach Price will be able to fill some of the “Gorgui Void”, but offensively, I don’t see it.
Gorgui had begun hitting the mid-range jumper with more regularity, his passing was good enough to have him ranked 2nd on the team in assists, and his presence on the court was a calming one. Can Louisville compete in its games until Dieng’s return, absolutely. We witnessed that Saturday. But defeating Kentucky on December 29th…that Calipari losing streak may have been extended another season.
Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t throw with his left hand…but that doesn’t make his injury minor. Teddy seemed to be uncomfortable under Center after suffering the injury, forced to take more snaps out of the shotgun formation. Teddy showed in his return that he can still make all the necessary throws, but scrambling and ball security could be a major issue. There’s a reason you haven’t seen many QB’s tapping the ball against a cast before unloading down the field. Teddy showed some serious grit, adding to his legacy, but let’s see how defenses game-plan against a cardinal with a busted wing.
Seemingly forgotten amidst Wristpocalypse, Charlie Strong. Two straight losses, two uninspired games, two seemingly unprepared teams. Monday morning, two wrist injuries that will have this city bemoaning bad Louisville luck and not the sudden collapse of its football team. The Cards are no longer ranked or relevant on the national landscape…and unfocused players can’t constantly be blamed. FIU, Marshall, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, UCONN…this is more than a trend. If the players are drinking “Fake Juice”, stop serving it. That can all change Thursday night. It has to. A 9-3 season looked great in August, but now it reaks of disaster. Three straight losses would mean another collapse with a Big East Title on the line…even worse with it occurring during an unsettling period of conference realignment.
Strong is going to be up for a number of high-profile gigs in upcoming weeks, heck, TV stations in Knoxville are already calling WHAS-11 requesting video of Strong because they believe he is a serious candidate for the Tennessee job. With the deteriorating Big East as the backdrop, I’m not sure whether Strong stays or leaves. He is a man with strong morals, a man whose word I take as bond, but he’s in a tough spot. It’s tough to recruit when you can’t definitively tell recruits which conference, let alone TV network, they’ll be playing on. A month of hype before a BCS bowl game could do wonders for Strong, the football program and conference talks. A month of silence before a return trip to the Belk Bowl, that transforms the 2012 dream season into a nightmare.