Q&A: Gorgui Dieng | Part I
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Editor’s Note: Wolves center Gorgui Dieng spoke with Timberwolves.com’s Mark Remme during an exclusive 1-on-1 interview this weekend after being named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team last week. Dieng is currently working out at the University of Minnesota while in town, and he plans to spend part of his back in his native Senegal. Part I of this Q&A focuses on Gorgui’s rookie season in Minnesota. Dieng said one of his goals is to gain 15-20 pounds and gain a bit more strength and physicality during the offseason.
First off, congratulations on being named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. First off, I’m curious when did you find out about that and who told you?
I had dinner with [Gophers coach] Richard Pitino [Dieng played at Louisville under Richard’s father, Rick Pitino], and he just asked me, ‘Did you know that you got selected to the Rookie Team?’ I said, no, I didn’t know. He said, ‘Well, congratulations.’ So that’s how I know.
Was that kind of a surprise?
I wasn’t surprised, I just heard it from him and I just, that was it.
What did it mean to you to be recognized for you play, especially how strong you came on in March and April?
It means a lot. I think it was motivation for me to keep working harder. Because I think, like, I belong in this league and the only way I can get better and get recognized is to keep working hard.
Is that the mindset you had all the way through, from start to finish? Just keeping yourself ready for when your time came?
Absolutely, like that was my job. Even when I wasn’t playing, I would just keep working hard, because that’s my job.
What part of your game did you improve most during your rookie year?
I would say on the defensive end and just controlling the tempo. I think I was rushing a lot when I had minutes early in the season. And after I just was very patient and just tried to learn my timing of the game.
Was it difficult to get the timing down and get acquainted with the speed of the NBA?
It’s different the way you play. Coach Adelman is very offensive-minded coach. And he drew a lot of plays, and it’s just difficult as a rookie to pick up all the plays.
Who do you attribute helping you most during the course of the season?
I think Jack [Sikma] did a great job through the whole season just talking to me and always pulling me on the side and just talking to me and making sure I got my mind right. And I think that helped me a lot, you know, sometimes there are a lot of ups and downs, and having someone like him on the staff just talking to you and making sure everything is OK with you.
What are you focusing on this offseason. We talked earlier that while you’re in town you’re working at the U of M. What are you working on as far as on the court, off the court preparation for Year 2?
Right now I’m just working on my strength. I know I need to be stronger, and you know that’s what I’m focusing on right now.
Is that something you learned from being a rookie, knowing what you might want to work on more this offseason since you’ve been through and NBA season and know what to expect?
Yeah, I think I learned a lot. There are a lot of plays that I couldn’t finish because of my strength. There are a lot of plays I couldn’t make because of my strength, and I think I need to focus more on my strength right now to get stronger and still explosive. I think if I can have those two, they will help me a lot coming into next season.
Where will you be spending the rest of your summer?
I’m here for now, and I will probably go back home again, and honestly I don’t know my schedule yet. But I will make sure wherever I go I will have time to work on my game and my body.