Louisville’s once-promising chances at repeating as National Champions took a hit Thursday morning as coach Rick Pitino announced that star forward Chane Behanan is suspended indefinitely for violating university policy. While indefinite suspensions are occasionally treated as superficial by media members and fans, Pitino made it clear in his announcement that Behanan would not be coming back any time soon, if at all. “He is not coming back in the month of November I can assure you that,” Pitino said after pointing out that the junior forward will not practice or be involved in any team-related activities while he is suspended. “He does have a chance to come back in the month of December but I doubt that as well.”
It sounds like this is hardly Behanan’s first misstep of team rules. The team suspended him for one game at the beginning of last season for a violation and Behanan wasn’t made available to the media at all for the fall 2012 semester. Pitino said that this suspension was the result of a number of little issues and that Behanan had already violated an arrangement made one week ago between he and the staff that would get him back on the court. It’s probably safe for Cardinals’ fans to start wondering not only if Behanan will be back this season but if they will ever see the burly forward in a Louisville uniform again.
From a basketball perspective, Behanan’s suspension represents a major blow to the Cardinals. Although he didn’t make the leap to stardom many expected of him as a sophomore, he still started all but two of the games he played in last season, averaging 9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor. Behanan did his best work in the Final Four last season, posting 10 points and nine rebounds in the semifinals win over Wichita State before exploding for 15 points and 12 rebounds in the National Championship game against Michigan. A lot of people (us included) had him pegged as a first-team all-conference performer this season and expected him to take the leap to stardom that he never took last season.