Pops Ndiaye hopes to make up for lost time at Tennessee

Pops Ndiaye

Pops Ndiaye

Tennessee's Pops Ndiaye on coming to UT

He has called New York, Paris, Raleigh and the Senegalese capital of Dakar home. And don’t forget Ottumwa, Iowa.

He speaks English, French, the West African dialect Wolof and even a little Arabic.

Now Rawane “Pops” Ndiaye has arrived in Knoxville at age 22 to see what he can make of this late love affair with the game of basketball for the next two seasons as a Tennessee Vol.

“I started playing basketball when I came back to North Carolina from Senegal,’’ Ndiaye said Wednesday night at the Rocky Top League. “I was 17. I had never played before.’’

Somebody in North Carolina thought it might be a good idea to fit Ndiaye with a pair of sneakers and see what he could do. And why not — he had sprouted up since the last time any family in the States had seen him.

He arrives at UT at 6-foot-10 and somewhere between 250 and 270 pounds, depending on which literature you read.

The erstwhile soccer defenseman actually came to the U.S. just to get an education. If that education included learning a new sport, he was game.

“I took a chance and played,’’ he said. “I thought, ‘I’ll give it a try’ and ended up loving the game.’’

His most recent stop was Indiana Hills Community College in Iowa, where foot injuries in each of his seasons there restricted both his development and his stats.

The Vols are betting on the fact that “Pops” has a big upside. If nothing else, his big backside will be imposing defensively in the paint.

There is a family history with the game. Makhtar Ndiaye, a cousin, played at North Carolina (1996-98), and ended up with a pro career, primarily overseas.

Pops Ndiaye was a late addition to UT’s signing class, essentially replacing the departed Yemi Makanjuola, another African post.

“I had other options, like LSU, South Carolina, TCU, Iona, Auburn, Eastern Illinois,’’ Ndiaye said. “I thought Tennessee was my best option, especially knowing the team chemistry. Coach Martin, Cuonzo, is all about work and dedication.’’

Ndiaye checked in for the first session of summer school. His immediate dedication is geared to conditioning and improving his offensive skills.

He said the injuries and rehab time made it tough at Indian Hills, where he averaged only 2.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in the few games he played.

Pops scored 14 points Monday in his Rocky Top debut and 13 on Wednesday.

“I think I have the skill that’s required,’’ he said. “Right now, it depends on how I can use them in a game and help my team.

“I got a lot better (at Indian Hills) even though I didn’t average a lot because of the injuries.

“And I’ve gotten a lot better since I got here. They’ve been training me pretty good. I’ve picked up some skills around the basket.’’

News Sentinel 96, Rice Buick 84: Wayne Chism led the News Sentinel (2-0) with 33 points. UT guard Brandon Lopez added 17.

Josh Richardson of UT topped Rice with 35. Armani Moore of UT scored 14 in the second half after a late arrival. Incoming UT freshman Darius Thompson added eight.

DeRoyal 111, Choice Spine 98: Bobby Maze led a balanced DeRoyal attack with 21. A.J. Davis added 19 and D’Montre Edwards 16.

Boo Jackson had 16 for Choice Spine.

Next Level 121, Campus Lights 116: Jordan McRae scored 61 in a losing effort. Chris Lofton’s 35 paced Next Level. Robert Hubbs added 19.

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Comments » 17

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

We can only hope he blossoms into a low post presence..Either way, he's a quality young man with a bright future..GBO!

brod writes:

his cousin was a solid player. he could play wing in addition to post.

voloffaith writes:

Hey Pops whatcha doin'.........welcome...soak up the coaching and opportunity.

PHAT_VOL writes:

He seems to have a great attitude. Welcome Pops!
Glad your hear.

vol98champ writes:

Scores are nice, but wouldn't some of us like to read an analysis of how the games are played? If I were in Knoxville I would go and take notes on the progress or lack of it from players of interest. Surely there are scouts in the audience.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Agree vol98champ. But the story did feature Ndiaye and I wanted to know more about him. So I'm satisfied this time with the article.

It was interesting to see Loften again outscore a 5*!lol He's been doing that for a few years now. No offense to Hubbs who seems to be a team player. So far. It's also interesting to see Richardson leading his team. We all knew McRae would do what he's doing...but in losing efforts. Don't forget Mr. McRae that defense helps win games. Also don't forget how to shoot when you get back to UT.hehe

Wish I could be there for the games. You fans who live in knoxville are crazy not to be involved.imho

BruisedOrange writes:

Watching Duncan in the NBA playoffs has made me appreciate more how the game has changed. Posting a big man in the middle is simply no longer intimidating.

Unless he's really quick and has a high basketball IQ, the proverbial "aircraft carrier" of old is like having a billboard posted in the lane that says:
"FREE blocking fouls & assists!
Get 'em now before he's back on the bench!"

Seems to me the subtleties involved with getting a charge called instead of a blocking foul are as nuanced and numerous as the referees who must make the call.

If you take on the role of shot blocker/intimidator, you risk forfeiting any psychological edge you might have with the refs in getting that charging call.

If Rawane could establish an early reputation with refs as a player who anticipates well and is quick enough to be in position before contact, that would be great. It's such a tossup call (for refs to make in real time) that you've gotta figure reputation is worth at least one favorable call per game.

Hopefully Rawane's soccer background will be an asset with footwork and position. But nothing is as quick as anticipation, and this is still a new game for him.

volinlouisvilleky writes:

He reminds me of Gorgui Dieng when he arrived at the University of Louisville. He turned out to be a pretty darn good player!

OGSLOV!

HazardKYVol writes:

Wonder if he ever ran into Radar while in Ottumwa?

maciste54 writes:

Repeat over and over Pops! Rebound rebound rebound rebound rebound .....ad infinitum.

Hoops43 writes:

in response to brod:

his cousin was a solid player. he could play wing in addition to post.

NO! Pops is strictly a post. He reminds me of JuJuan James. He has the lower body of an offensive tackle. Don't let Butch Jones see this guy.

I coach in the league and have seen him play every game. The suggestion he should venture outside the lane would be a stretch.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

Watching Duncan in the NBA playoffs has made me appreciate more how the game has changed. Posting a big man in the middle is simply no longer intimidating.

Unless he's really quick and has a high basketball IQ, the proverbial "aircraft carrier" of old is like having a billboard posted in the lane that says:
"FREE blocking fouls & assists!
Get 'em now before he's back on the bench!"

Seems to me the subtleties involved with getting a charge called instead of a blocking foul are as nuanced and numerous as the referees who must make the call.

If you take on the role of shot blocker/intimidator, you risk forfeiting any psychological edge you might have with the refs in getting that charging call.

If Rawane could establish an early reputation with refs as a player who anticipates well and is quick enough to be in position before contact, that would be great. It's such a tossup call (for refs to make in real time) that you've gotta figure reputation is worth at least one favorable call per game.

Hopefully Rawane's soccer background will be an asset with footwork and position. But nothing is as quick as anticipation, and this is still a new game for him.

You have raised some very interesting ideas. There have indeed been major changes in the nature of big man play, as understood by anybody who gained their initial basketball orientation in the 60's, from that era to this. I still do not entirely discount the value of a classic big man, even if he is relatively immobile, when it comes to the half-court game. There will always be occasions where it is better to be closer to the basket than to be either quick or agile. The old saying goes that quick leapers and fast runners get tired but big guys are always big. A big man with quick feet and hands is a bigger asset still, and one with offensive skills as well will be a very rich man in a few years, even in this era when the classic version can seem passe.

There are many possible factors in the "disappearance" of the classic big man. For one thing, even in the "golden era" of the big men, when it seemed every team had a Russell, a Chamberlain, a Thurmond, an Unseld, a Bellamy, et. al., it seemed like there were a lot of big men and teams that revolved around them because there were only about 8-12 NBA teams in those days. When the ABA came along, there was Artis Gilmore, Jim McDaniel, Moses Malone, and other classic big men.

But as the league grew both by folding in the old ABA teams--the Spurs are one--and by expanding into every major metropolitan area, there are no longer ENOUGH good big men to go around. Teams had to learn to make a virtue of necessity if they wanted to compete with the big boys. Ball pressure defense, spread attacks, and fast tempos seemed to offer shorter teams a chance to win. Also, as much as many of us deplore the state of "pure" shooting in this era, current NBA FG% is a good 10-15% higher than some of the elite teams recorded in those earlier times. More made outside shots and more drives to the basket mean a higher "finishing" rate, hence fewer defensive rebounds falling to a classic low-post player; more of the shots that DO miss are 3-pointers which can bounce way out from under the rim, allowing quicker players to run them down.

As you might imagine, I have other thoughts but I have already allowed the "drivel machine" to run on too long! It's a dreary Saturday in the midst of a "bachelor weekend" while my wife is out of town. I figure posting on here is a more wholesome exercise than going out and raising heck, not that I do much of that anymore! <Nothing going on here, Honey!> That's my story and I'm sticking to it(;-P)!

BruisedOrange writes:

Always appreciate your thoughtful perspective, Johnlg00. As Jimmy Durante would have put it, "Ya soitanly class up da joint."

BTW: If you need someone to confirm your alibi...

"Mrs.lg00, John was with me at a meeting of the Nostalgic Analysis and Online Social Club the whole time. The only time he stepped away from the keyboard was to do some dusting and repair some things he didn't think you knew needed fixing."
--BruisedOrange

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BruisedOrange:

Always appreciate your thoughtful perspective, Johnlg00. As Jimmy Durante would have put it, "Ya soitanly class up da joint."

BTW: If you need someone to confirm your alibi...

"Mrs.lg00, John was with me at a meeting of the Nostalgic Analysis and Online Social Club the whole time. The only time he stepped away from the keyboard was to do some dusting and repair some things he didn't think you knew needed fixing."
--BruisedOrange

Right on time, bro! That's what a good wing man is for!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to Hoops43:

NO! Pops is strictly a post. He reminds me of JuJuan James. He has the lower body of an offensive tackle. Don't let Butch Jones see this guy.

I coach in the league and have seen him play every game. The suggestion he should venture outside the lane would be a stretch.

Fortunately we don't need two year offensive line players. Defense possibly. Tight end maybe.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to volinlouisvilleky:

He reminds me of Gorgui Dieng when he arrived at the University of Louisville. He turned out to be a pretty darn good player!

OGSLOV!

yeh. Pitino and his coaches proved they can coach up. Martin I think has done well with his bigs in general. Especially rebounding. That's why we need a big like Ndiaye. REBOUNDING! Martin thinks so at least. Me too. PLUS we can always use him for fouls of necessity.(I don't want to call him a "bruiser" yet)

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to PHAT_VOL:

He seems to have a great attitude. Welcome Pops!
Glad your hear.

You are= You're

your= you own it

here= present

hear= (h)EAR usage

AND while I'm at it fat=overweight phat=?? awesome I guess.

sorry I MAY be a little board this afternoon. knot YOU'RE phault.

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