Monday, December 30, 2013
Afternoon Links: Is Louisville done?
By Eamonn Brennan
What we're reading as we adjust to a post-Chane Behanan basketball world. Submit links via Twitter.
What did Chane Behanando, exactly? What could cause such a talented and important player -- a crucial player on two Final Four teams, a rebounding force in Louisville’s run to the 2013 national championship -- to wear out his welcome at a university level? It’s hard to fathom, but it happened -- prefaced by Behanan’s own cryptic tweets, and announced officially by coach Rick Pitino on Monday afternoon. "He just did not do the right thing over and over and over," Pitino said of Behanan, per Jeff Goodman’s ESPN.com report. There is no possibility of return, either. “None that I can see,” Pitino said. “This is a university policy and has been stretched to the limits [… and] has set back our basketball team immensely.”
And Behanan was given every chance to make it work. Remember the preseason, when he was suspended indefinitely, and murmurs of serious infractions and potential dismissal hovered about? Remember, again, that Behanan returned after just one month? Whatever ridicule opposing fans may have found from the situation -- and not unfairly -- the point is that Behanan had every opportunity to make things work. And, as CBS’s Gary Parrish writes, he still couldn’t make it work.
However puzzling that may be, the upshot is that an already weak Louisville frontcourt is now without its most reliable and experienced player — albeit one who had struggled for most of this season (who knows why). ESPN.com’s C.L. Brown detailed the difficulty Louisville will have in replacing Behanan: “Just to be clear, Louisville doesn’t have a replacement for Behanan. For all of his shortcomings of being an undersized, 6-foot-6 power forward, he had a knack for coming up big for the Cards in big games. As a freshman, he scored nine of his 17 points during an 18-3 run as Louisville rallied from an 11-point deficit against Florida in the Elite Eight. It helped Behanan earn 2012 West Regional Most Outstanding Player honors. That performance may have been surpassed only by his second half of the 2013 national championship game, when Behanan had 11 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Michigan. For all of the potential sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell has shown, Harrell hasn’t delivered in as many big games as Behanan did. Harrell will definitely have to deliver now.”
The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy went further, ruling out any chance of the Cardinals repeating as national champions in 2013-14: “We can confidently say this: Behanan’s ex-teammates won’t have to worry about what it will feel like to have championship rings on each hand. The reigning NCAA champions, already a bit light in the frontcourt to have an excellent shot at winning the 2014 title, now will play only a spoiler’s role in this season’s tournament. … Could they make the Final Four? Oh, perhaps, given the right matchups and a fair amount of luck. Russ Smith and Chris Jones are dynamic enough in the backcourt, and it ought to help Harrell to settle into an influential role now that he doesn’t have to share his position with Behanan. Even if Luke Hancock recovers his shooting touch and everyone finds a comfortable role, though, Louisville without Behanan is both too thin in the frontcourt and too lacking in elite talent to be one of the leading contenders to win it all.”