Posted: 12:55 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30, 2013
By Mike Rutherford
Chane Behanan is no longer a member of the Louisville basketball team.
A visibly upset Rick Pitino announced the news during an unplanned press conference, saying that Behanan had been dismissed for "a violation of university policy." That didn't stop Pitino from reiterating is belief that the now former Cardinal is a good person who just struggled to do the right thing off the court.
"We lost a really terrific man in many respects," Pitino said. "Away from the lines he just did not do the right things, over and over. The university has gone to the mat for him. He's a good person, a really good person. But there are a lot of good people out there that make mistakes."
According to Pitino, Behanan has the option to transfer to another school or hire a trainer and an agent and start preparing for a professional career. Should Behanan choose to transfer, Pitino said he would like to sit down with him and find a school and a coach that is a good fit.
Behanan made news multiple times for the wrong reasons during the offseason, most notably when he was suspended indefinitely on Oct. 17.
"He has a very difficult time understanding life's values," Pitino said at the time. "We're more concerned right now about Chane the person than the player. We want to see him prosper as a person. Chane wouldn't hurt a fly. He's a good person. But it's very difficult for him to follow rules."
Behanan was forced to move out of the team dorm and banned from participating in any team activities, although it wasn't long before he found himself back in his coach's good graces. After not dressing for either exhibition game or any of the Red/White scrimmages, Behanan was allowed to sit on the bench in a suit and tie for the season-opener against Charleston. Shortly after, his suspension was officially lifted.
"Chane Behanan the basketball player is really good," Pitino said on Oct. 24. "The person between the lines is also a good person. He's just got to do the right things away from the lines. He's doing that right now, so we expect him to come full circle, become a better man. The basketball player and the man we care for is top shelf."
A season after he was named the West Region's MVP during Louisville's run to the Final Four, Behanan posted averages of 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds as a sophomore on U of L's national championship team. He was at his best when the stage was the biggest, scoring 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in the Cardinals' triumph over Michigan in the title game.
Coming off the bench for the first time in his career, Behanan had been averaging 7.6 points and 6.3 rebounds this season.
Let's just state the obvious: this is a huge blow. Louisville already needed an enormous lift in frontcourt production to have a shot at repeating, and instead they just lost their most experienced and accomplished forward.
At the same time, it's only a huge blow if you're assuming that the Chane Behanan from the past two NCAA Tournaments was going to reemerge. If Behanan was going to continue to provide distraction after distraction, then it's hard to not see this as at least somewhat of a positive.
Best of luck to Chane going forward.