- 2.9 points per game
- 1.9 rebounds
- 0.7 blocks
One of the great strengths of the 2017-18 Cincinnati Bearcats was depth. At just about every position, they went at least two deep and that included in the frontcourt. With Gary Clark and Kyle Washington, they had great starters, and Nysier Brooks, Tre Scott and even rookie Eliel Nsoseme were perfectly solid backups. But all that depth meant that freshman Mamoudou Diarra was not given a ton of chances in his first season in Clifton. That’s not his fault or an indication of his potential, but just how things go on a team with so much talent.
When Diarra was given opportunities play, he did just OK. We’re going to be looking at small sample sizes, so its tough to really judge, but he definitely didn’t dominate, while still holding his own. In seven games, all before January, Diarra averaged 2.9 points, 1.8 rebound and 0.7 blocks per game. He didn’t make as many shots as you’d expect, shooting 35 percent from the field, but stretched out over 40 minutes, he would have averaged a double-double with more than four blocks per game.
While that sentence ahead sets an untenable pace, he actually would have led the team in block percentage if he played the full season. Part of that’s because small sample sizes tell extreme stories, but there was also evidence that Diarra will be a great rim protector and rebounder. He posted a defensive rating of 83.1 in those seven games after all.
But Diarra still needs a lot of work on offense. His offensive rating (95.3) was below average and a 6’9” forward should not be shooting below 50 percent let alone 40. More regular playing time should allow him to work out the kinks and sprinkle some efficiency into his offensive game, although its unlikely he will ever be a volume scorer.
The Best of the Best
Nov. 13, 2017 vs. Western Carolina
This was the game where Diarra played his best. He scored a career-high nine points and added six rebounds while knocking down 3-of-6 from the floor.
Nov. 27, 2017 vs. Alabama State
While his scoring was subdued (two points on 1-of-4 shooting), he blocked a career-high two shots.
For Next Year
In the years to come, the Cincinnati Bearcats are going to bring forth its next generation of talented big men. The most recent one was led by Clark and Washington and the next one will feature Brooks and Scott. That means that Diarra might have to wait for another cycle to become a critical part of the rotation, but that all depends on how Mick Cronin constructs his lineups and how well Diarra develops as a sophomore.