Mark Story: Behanan taking U of L hopes for third straight Final Four out the door with him

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistDecember 30, 2013 

Western Kentucky Louisville basketball

Louisville's Chane Behanan (21) dunks against Western Kentucky's in the second half of a NCAA college basketball game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Garry Jones)

GARRY JONES — AP

Fast-break points from the post-Armageddon rehash:

21. Chane Behanan. With Monday's announcement that junior forward Behanan has been dismissed from the Cardinals team for a violation of university policy, U of L hopes of a third straight Final Four trip are flickering.

20. Louisville front court. Even with Behanan, Rick Pitino's front line had already been exposed in losses to North Carolina (outscored 52-26 in paint) and Kentucky (42-24).

19. Out with a whimper. The undersized four man (6-foot-6, 250 pounds) did not play well in what became his final game as a Cardinal — no points, three turnovers, seven rebounds in Louisville's 73-66 loss to Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Saturday.

18. "Big-game" Behanan. Over his U of L career, the forward often stepped up big under the brightest lights. He had 17 points when U of L rallied past Florida to earn a spot in the 2012 Final Four. Last season, the Bowling Green High School product had 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals in the Louisville victory over archrival Kentucky.

17. Final Four hero. In the 2013 Final Four, Behanan had 10 points and nine boards in U of L's semifinal win over Wichita State, then came back with 15 points and 12 rebounds to help the Cards claim the national title over Michigan.

16. Sadness not sorrow. Since Behanan was suspended before this season began, it's disappointing he was not "scared straight" by that experience. Still, anytime a college-aged person throws away a life opportunity, it's sad.

15. What now for U of L? Will Pitino go all in on a "small ball" approach? He could move 6-8 Montrezl Harrell to center, shift small forwards Wayne Blackshear (6-5) and Luke Hancock (6-6) to the four position and then use a three-guard attack of Russ Smith, Chris Jones and Terry Rozier.

14. Winning the UK-U of L game. Since Kentucky and Louisville began playing annually in 1983-84, the team that has won has gone on to make the Final Four seven times and win three NCAA championships (UK 1996 and 2012, U of L 2013).

13. Losing the UK-U of L game. Since 1983-84, the team that has lost has gone on to make the Final Four four times and win two NCAA championships (U of L 1986, UK 1998).

12. Rupp Arena rocks. There have now been three straight loud, energetic crowds in Rupp — Belmont (men), Duke (women) and U of L (men).

11. Red in Rupp. There was more red in the Rupp crowd Saturday than I remember from past U of L visits.

10. Red in E-Rupp-tion Zone. The two guys wearing red T-shirts in the main UK student section were brave. Whether wearing U of L colors amidst the UK students was bright is a different question.

9. Records of modern Kentucky coaches vs. Louisville. Joe B. Hall 2-2; Eddie Sutton 3-1; Rick Pitino 6-2; Tubby Smith 6-4; Billy Gillispie 0-2; John Calipari 5-1.

8. Records of modern Louisville coaches vs. Kentucky. Denny Crum 7-13; Rick Pitino 5-9.

7. What should worry UK fans. Even in a feel-good victory over Kentucky's archrival, the Cats did not exactly put on a string-music concerto Saturday.

6. James Young. The UK freshman small forward played well all-around (18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists). However, he made only five of 17 shots. In four games against ranked teams, he is shooting 20-for-54 (37 percent).

5. Andrew Harrison. Kentucky's freshman point guard played his best game as a Wildcat (18 points, four rebounds, two assists, three turnovers.) However, he hit only six of 16 shots and six of 12 free throws. In his last five games, he is 26-for-44 (59 percent) from the line.

4. Andrew's foul shot plan. Asked how many free throws he'd be shooting over the next week, Harrison grimaced. "Thousands," he said.

3. "Russ Arena." Had a good run, with Louisville guard Russ Smith scoring 30 (vs. UK in 2012), 23 and 27 (2013 NCAA tourney) points in his first three games in Lexington. On Saturday, the venue was back to being Rupp Arena. Smith did score 19 points, but he played poorly (7-for-20 field goals, 0-for-5 three-point tries; 5-for-10 free throws; four turnovers).

2. Pitino's verdict. "I don't think Russ played a particularly good game from a mental standpoint," the U of L coach said. "I think he took too many, quick, ill-advised shots."

1. One shining moment. Still, that late first-half dunk when the 6-foot Smith slammed over UK's 6-9 Julius Randle was "Russ-diculous."

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service