Because of Chane Behanan's suspension, Louisville wasn't expected to have its full complement of players until next month.
The third-ranked Cardinals might be at full strength weeks ahead of schedule with Behanan reinstated and NCAA tournament MVP Luke Hancock expected to dress for their team's attempt at a record-tying win streak Tuesday night against Hofstra.
Behanan played a significant role in last season's national championship victory over Michigan with 15 points and 12 rebounds, but he got on the wrong side of coach Rick Pitino before this season. Pitino announced Oct. 17 that the 6-foot-6 forward was suspended indefinitely for violating an unspecified team rule.
The Louisville coach said Monday that Behanan met his requirements for returning and would dress for Tuesday's game. The junior has not moved back into the team dormitory and remains on probation for the rest of the season.
''I had a target of 30 straight days of (Behanan) doing the right things and I didn't think he would ever do it, to be honest," Pitino said. "He had 30 great days, which surprised the heck out of me."
There's no guarantee Behanan will play in Louisville's opener in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. The same goes for Hancock, who missed the preseason and Saturday's 70-48 victory against the College of Charleston because of an Achilles injury.
Hancock had a team-best 22 points and five 3-pointers off the bench in the win over Michigan, and he scored 20 in the national semifinal victory against Wichita State.
The Cardinals (1-0) could have used his help to put away Charleston a little earlier Saturday. They led by just three points with 6:55 remaining before finishing on a 22-3 run.
Preseason All-American Russ Smith had a team-best 21 points and five assists. His new backcourt teammate Chris Jones, last season's national junior college player of the year, added 12 points, six rebounds and five assists.
"We just had to kind of kick the rust off," Smith said. "I'm kind of happy we got back into playing the way we know how to play."
The Cardinals will try to get off to a better start in the second all-time meeting with Hofstra (1-1) and their drive for an 18th consecutive win. Louisville won a school-record 18 in a row en route to the program's first NCAA tournament title in 1979-80.
A matchup with the Pride could provide a relatively easy way for the Cardinals to secure a piece of that record. Hofstra has gone 17-47 in its last two seasons and was picked to finish last in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Pride, though, are coming off their first win under coach Joe Mihalich, who previously led Niagara to 265 wins over 15 seasons and a pair of NCAA tournament appearances. With leading scorer Zeke Upshaw dealing with foul trouble, freshman swingman Jamall Robinson paced four players in double figures with 15 points in an 80-58 rout of Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday.
Upshaw, a transfer from Illinois State who's averaging 14.5 points, was limited to seven after scoring 22 in an 88-84 loss to Monmouth on Friday.
Louisville won 75-66 in the only previous matchup with the Pride, an opening-round game at the Puerto Rico Shootout on Nov. 27, 1997.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chane Behanan
- Rick Pitino