Chane Behanan Will Be Back, and Louisville Will Be Better For ItPosted by Ross Schulz on October 18th, 2013
Don’t read too much into the indefinite suspension of Louisville forward Chane Behanan. While the news has the entire city of Louisville up in arms, judging by Pitino’s history, we’ll see the rebounding hawk on the floor sooner rather than later. Kevin Ware was suspended with some harsh words from his coach last January, only to return after missing just one game. Suspensions are Pitino’s best way to get through to his players, and most of the time — Derrick Caracter the exception — the players eventually get the message and are better people, if not players, because of it.
Now, this suspension does seem to have more teeth behind it than previous ones, since Behanan was actually kicked out of the team’s lavish dormitories, can’t practice with the team and Pitino said there’s no way he’ll be back before mid-December. Many of the national writers and commentators are already writing off Louisville’s title defense hopes, just like that.
Not so fast.
The suspension, as long as Behanan does what is asked and eventually returns, will make Louisville a better team and more equipped to cut down the nets again in April. During the time frame Behanan will not be with the team — let’s say the first semester — players such as Stephan Van Treese, Mango Mathiang and Akoy Agau will garner some valuable (and much-needed for Mathiang and Agau) experience and playing time.
It will also give Montrezl Harrell the opportunity to play through what could be a sophomore slump. Harrell may come out and play like he did at the end of last season and this summer on the U.S. national squad and be a potential player of the year in the AAC. But, if for some reason he struggles in the early going, Pitino won’t have Behanan around to put in and shun Harrell to the end of the bench. Harrell will keep playing and gain confidence against a fairly weak non-conference slate. Pitino also said he will start Wayne Blackshear at the four spot in Behanan’s absence, which will give him a chance to shine and possibly become the player many thought he would coming out of high school. So if and when Behanan does return, it will make things that much easier for the guys around him and behind him in the lineup.
If Behanan never returns, it will no doubt set the Cardinals back a few spots, but don’t count them out. Nor should you count on Behanan being done for good. Don’t be surprised if you see Behanan suited up for the December 28 showdown in Rupp Arena.