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Senegalese basketball team has UD connection

Ndongo N’Diaye (center) played two seasons for the Hens, scoring 3.9 points per game and pulling down 5.2 rebounds per game during his senior year in 1999-2000.

4:46 p.m., Aug. 16, 2006--When the United States national basketball team takes the court for the 2006 FIBA World Championships to be played Aug. 19-Sept. 3 in Japan, it will compete against a team with several University of Delaware connections.

The American squad will compete in the tournament's Group D with Senegal, which features on its roster two former Fightin' Blue Hens, 6-foot 5-inch guard/forward Mamadou Diouf and 7-foot 1-inch center Ndongo N'Diaye. The teams are scheduled to meet on Thursday, Aug. 24.

Diouf played three seasons for the Hens, scoring 2.3 points per game in 1997-98, 4.5 in 1998-99 and 7.4 in 1999-2000, when UD reached the America East Conference championship game and earned a post-season berth in the National Invitation Tournament.

N'Diaye played two seasons for the Hens after transferring from Providence College, scoring 3.9 points per game and pulling down 5.2 rebounds per game during his senior year in 1999-2000.

In addition, Senegal's national team head coach is Mamadou Moustapha Gaye, who spent time at UD last year as part of an international basketball exchange, according to Matthew J. Robinson, associate professor of health, nutrition and exercise sciences and director of UD's sport management program.

Robinson also directs UD's International Basketball Initiative that last fall was awarded a $326,000 grant by the U.S. Department of State to work with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to conduct an educational sports exchange program with Senegal.

Through the NBA's international basketball instruction and community relations outreach program, Basketball Without Borders Africa, UD has been working with the nonprofit organization Sports for Education and Economic Development in Senegal (SEEDS) and the Senegalese Basketball Federation in executing the grant.

Senegal’s national team head coach is Mamadou Moustapha Gaye (front left) spent time at UD last year as part of an international basketball exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
The funds helped support an educational sports exchange program that brought several coaches from Senegal, including Gaye, to the United States last fall to participate in a three-week program that included sessions with UD faculty and the varsity men's and women's basketball staffs, visits to the NBA league office in New York, NBA games and team practices.

Also, Gaye was among those participants who had an opportunity to observe a men's basketball practice at Duke University led by Blue Devils Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is now coaching the U.S. national team in the World Championships.

"It was a true pleasure working with Moustapha,” Robinson said. “He is a good man who has become a good friend, and I am very excited about this opportunity for him. I know he greatly appreciated the effort and knowledge that was shared by both the UD men's and women's basketball staffs, as well as the various seminars presented by the faculty in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. We all wish Moustapha well and good luck in the World Championships."

While at UD, Gaye and four other coaches from Senegal attended seminars on sport psychology, sport medicine, strength and conditioning, team management, coaching theory, exercise physiology and sport nutrition as presented by UD faculty. They also attended UD men's and women's practices and had chalk talks with members of the coaching staffs, and met with NCAA President Myles Brand, who was on campus to deliver a talk sponsored by the sport management program.

"Beyond basketball, one of Moustapha's favorite memories was the visit to see the Paul R. Jones Collection of African American Art," Robinson said.

Robinson said UD's International Basketball Initiative has another tie to the FIBA World Championships through its connection to the Turkish Basketball Federation. Erdam Can, a participant in a 2004 exchange program, will serve as an assistant coach for the New Zealand national team in Japan.

"The initiative has been a huge success because of the commitment of the University Delaware as a whole,” Robinson said, adding, “Individuals from the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, the Center for International Studies, athletics, graduate studies other academic and administrative units as well as undergraduate and graduate students have made valuable contributions to the International Basketball Initiative and its various programs."

Robinson said he will see Gaye in September when he and Monté Ross, the recently appointed head coach of men's basketball at UD, travel to Senegal to host a clinic for coaches and young people in
Dakar. "I look forward to hearing about his experiences in Japan,” Robinson said.

Article by Neil Thomas

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