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Rick Pitino offers more optimistic timetable for suspended forward Chane Behanan’s return

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Chane Behanan (Getty Images)

Whether it's promising one starting lineup and delivering another or estimating an injured player will miss weeks only to start him days later, Rick Pitino has long shown a tendency to change his mind about roster decisions.

As a result, it should come as no surprise that Pitino has already altered his stance on how long starting forward Chane Behanan's indefinite suspension may last.

One week after declaring Behanan would be out "a long time" and describing the chances of him returning to Louisville as "possible" but "not probable," Pitino offered a far more optimistic outlook during a book signing in Owensboro, Ky. He told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer that if Behanan continues to do the right things, he could be back on the team in "a short period of time."

"He's doing the right things right now," Pitino said. "I was skeptical about a week ago, but so far this week he's put in everything we've asked him to do."

Asked to clarify what that meant Friday morning by ESPN.com, Pitino offered a more concrete timetable. If Behanan continues to meet the expectations of the coaching staff and Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich, Pitino envisions him practicing as soon as November and potentially playing in games by December.

Assuming Pitino actually sticks to this timetable and doesn't alter it again, that's a much more palatable alternative for Louisville fans. 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.

Louisville will miss Behanan's rebounding and interior scoring for however long he is out.

Breakout candidate Montrezl Harrell could play 30-plus minutes per game in Behanan's absence with center Stephan Van Treese also seeing increased playing time and wing Wayne Blackshear sliding down to power forward on occasion too. It's possible that young big men Magok Mathiang or Akoy Agau might receive minutes here and there as well, but it's unlikely either are ready for a heavy load.

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