Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is finishing his search for a new assistant coach and it appears that Gorgui Dieng has selected an agent.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Ball Never Stops Bouncing:
*Rick Pitino needs an assistant coach at the University of Louisville to replace Kareem Richardson, who took one of the most difficult jobs in the country when he agreed to become the head coach at Missouri Kansas City (8-24 last season).
Early speculation began with former UCLA assistant Korey McCray, who has strong AAU ties in Atlanta, and Steve Forbes, the former Tennessee assistant who is now the head coach at Northwest Florida State.
But a new name emerged this week: Mike Balado.
He worked for Richard Pitino at Florida International last season. Balado was announced as one of Pitino's assistants at Minnesota and then he decided to return to FIU.
Prior to working at FIU, Balado served as an assistant at High Point (N.C.) University. Balado has also worked at Miami (Florida) and Florida Atlantic. He has a reputation as a strong recruiter with solid connections in Florida.
*On Monday, U of L center Gorgui Dieng said he had settled on an agent, but that he wasn't ready to announce his pick. DraftExpress.com has announced it for him – Makhtar N'Diaye.
Like Dieng, N'Diaye is a native of Senegal. He started his college basketball career at Michigan and finished at North Carolina. N'Diaye played briefly with the Vancouver Grizzlies but completed his professional career overseas.
N'Diaye is also listed as the agent for former Marquette point guard Vander Blue.
"Everybody's very bullish on Gorgui," Pitino said. "They love his passing skills, they love his mid-range jump shot, shot-blocking ability, his basketball IQ. They think he has great upside to get better. We're real excited for him."
*Pitino sounded like a guy who intends to let his players celebrate the 2013 NCAA title through Kentucky Derby weekend. Then it will be time to return to work for next season.
With Russ Smith and Luke Hancock, he has a pair of senior leaders – and he expects them to lead. Pitino also expects his two junior forwards, Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear, to play like upperclassmen, consistent and solid on both ends of the floor.
Pitino said that Behanan and Blackshear must improve their ball-handling and perimeter shooting.
"Wayne's got to work very, very hard on his skills," Pitino said. "They have eroded because of his double shoulder surgery and he's got to get it back, and he will get it back. I think Chane feels really good about himself right now and I think he's going to put in a good summer and that's Russ's job, along with Luke, to make sure everybody works very hard this summer."