North Carolina A&T v Louisville

Starting forward Chane Behanan suspended indefinitely from Louisville (VIDEO)


Louisville’s hopes for repeating as national champs took a major blow on Thursday as the school announced that Chane Behanan has been suspended indefinitely from the team for a violation of University policy.

Head coach Rick Pitino said that there is still a chance that Behanan could earn his way back onto the team, but that it’s “not probable“. Behanan is no longer living in the players dorm, and since this punishment was handed down last week, he’s already violated the terms required for him to get back onto the team. The earliest he can return is mid-December. Louisville plays North Carolina, if neither team gets upset, on November 24th. They visit Kentucky on December 28th. AAC play starts when the calendar turns.

“This is not about basketball,” Pitino said. “It’s about Chane as a person.”

Louisville was already dealing with a front court that wasn’t incredibly deep, and this certainly doesn’t help matters. Stephen Van Treese will likely slide into the role of starting power forward — Pitino said as much last week — while Wayne Blackshear will likely see more time at the four as the Cardinals try to develop freshman Akoy Agau. Montrezl Harrell, who is already looking to replace Gorgui Dieng at center, will now play an even bigger role for the Cardinals.

This clearly hurts Louisville, but it is anything but a kill-shot to their national title hopes. Behanan is talented, but he’s still a role player on this team. If Harrell makes the jump that we all expect him to make, Chris Jones can adequately replace Peyton Siva at the point and Russ Smith continues to grow as a player, the Cardinals will still be a top five team and will still be a Final Four favorite come March.

Behanan averaged 9.8 points and 6.5 boards as a sophomore.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.