Chane Behanan (Getty Images)
Shortly after 8 a.m. on Monday morning, Louisville forward Chane Behanan sent out two cryptic tweets that piqued the interest of Cardinals fans.
"Good while it lasted," Behanan tweeted. Then a half hour later, he added, "I will forever miss this place."
If those tweets didn't already make it obvious that Behanan's Louisville career was over, Rick Pitino confirmed the news hours later at a press conference Monday afternoon. The Louisville coach announced Behanan has been dismissed from the team for violating an undisclosed university policy.
"Away from the lines, he just did not do the right things, over and over and over," Pitino said. "The university has gone to the mat for him ... in giving him every opportunity to make it here. It's come to a difficult detour in his road. It's set our basketball team back immensely."
Behanan's dismissal "disappointed" Pitino, but it didn't surprise him because the junior has a long history of off-the-court trouble. He had been on a zero-tolerance policy since October when Pitino suspended him indefinitely before reinstating him to the team following the first regular season game.
Now no longer part of the Louisville program, Behanan can either hire an agent and turn pro or remain in school and seek another school that would be interested in accepting him as a transfer. Asked if there was any chance he might be reinstated at Louisville again at a later date, Pitino was firm that the 6-foot-6 forward has played his final game for the Cardinals.
"This is a university policy that has been stretched to the limits," Pitino said.
A two-year starter at Louisville prior to this season, Behanan averaged 9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds last season and delivered 15 and 12 in the national championship game against Michigan. The emergence of Montrezl Harrell had cut into his playing time at power forward this season, but Behanan was still averaging 7.6 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Behanan's dismissal further damages a Louisville frontcourt that is already the weakest area of the team. His rebounding and low-post scoring will be challenging for Louisville to replace.
Six-foot-8 Montrezl Harrell isn't polished offensively, but his ability to block shots, run the floor and attack the glass make him the best big man Louisville has. Since center Stephan Van Treese is limited athletically and Mangok Mathiang is still extremely raw, Louisville may have to go small with Wayne Blackshear playing some power forward the way it did with Kyle Kuric two years ago.
"Our front court, it's obvious from the North Carolina and Kentucky games, is the weak point of our basketball team right now," Pitino said. "Now we have to juggle on the fly."
Behanan endured one of his worst games of his career against Kentucky on Saturday, going scoreless and missing the only three shots he attempted.
At the time, Pitino thought Behanan just had an off day. In retrospect, the Louisville coach thinks the junior forward may have been distracted knowing he had violated university policy and likely squandered his last chance to remain with the Cardinals.
Said Pitino, "He knew the hammer was about to fall."
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