All the handwringing surrounding how Louisville would fare without suspended forward Chane Behanan sure seems silly now, doesn't it?
It started Oct. 17 when Rick Pitino announced Behanan's suspension by insisting he'd be out for "a long time" if he returns at all. It diminished a bit a week later when Pitino gave a more optimistic timetable that had Behanan playing as soon as December. And now it seems downright ridiculous since Behanan may end up missing only a single regular-season game.
Behanan has been reinstated to the Louisville basketball team and could play as soon as Tuesday night against Hofstra, Pitino announced Monday. Pitino explained the decision to reporters in Louisville by lauding Behanan for adhering to his punishment and not making any mistakes for 30 straight days.
"I didn't think he could do what we put forward," Pitino told reporters in Louisville. "Physically, mentally, emotionally; I didn't think he could do it. Getting himself up early in the morning and getting through every single thing we put him through, including community service. I didn't think he could do it. It just restored what I thought of him, because the first two days he messed up. He's surprised all of us."
Everyone will debate whether Behanan could possibly have learned any real lesson from a suspension that consisted of one game against Charleston, but there's no questioning the importance of having him back in the Louisville lineup. Behanan, a two-year starter at power forward, averaged 9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds last season and delivered 15 and 12 in the national championship game against Michigan.
Without Behanan, Charleston was able to stay within striking distance of the Cardinals in Friday's season opener until a 21-3 game-ending run put the game away.
Charleston forwards Adjehi Baru and Willis Hall combined for 15 points and 13 rebounds against Louisville, probably more than they would have gotten had Behanan been in the lineup. The Cougars also lost the rebounding battle to the Cardinals only by three.
Louisville could also get a boost in the backcourt soon. Injured wing Luke Hancock has been cleared to play, though he has yet to return to practice.