Louisville may not be a contender, but it’s not because they lost Chane Behanan

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By now, we’ve all heard the news about Chane Behanan’s dismissal from the Louisville program.

According to Rick Pitino, Behanan just couldn’t behave himself off the court. “He just did not do the right things over and over and over,” Pitino said, and after getting suspended indefinitely by the program earlier this fall, whatever Behanan did in the last couple of days was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

He’s gone.

Since the news came down earlier this afternoon, I’ve seen people piling on the Cardinals, proclaiming their season over and writing off any chance that Louisville can compete with Memphis and UConn atop the American or make a run at a national title.

To be clear, I don’t necessarily disagree with that notion. As I wrote after Louisville’s loss on Saturday, the Cardinals are a flawed basketball team right now. They are far too reliant upon Russ Smith and Chris Jones and will remain that way until Luke Hancock and Wayne Blackshear find their stroke and Montrezl Harrell becomes more than just an effort guy, particularly against some of the nation’s best front lines.

But I don’t think that losing Chane Behanan should be the deciding factor in how you project the rest of the season will play out for the Cardinals.

Let’s call a spade, a spade: Behanan was largely ineffective this season. He rebounded the ball better than some of the other big men on the roster, but he struggled finishing around the rim against longer opponents and he couldn’t make free throws. He averaged 7.6 points and 6.3 boards in the games he played, but totaled just seven points and six turnovers (to go along with 16 boards) in losses to North Carolina and Kentucky.

So yes, Louisville will miss that presence on the glass, especially if Mangok Mathiang continues to sell out trying to block shots, Stephen Van Treese remains incapable of rebounding outside his area and Akoy Agau cannot figure out what he’s doing enough to make an impact on the court.

But if the only aspect of the game where Behanan is contributing is on the glass, is his loss really going to be felt that much? Does it really turn Louisville from a contender into a pretender?

I don’t think it does.

Again, I’m not trying to tell you that Louisville is going to be a team that can contend for a national title. Right now, they aren’t. And they won’t be if they can’t get Hancock, Blackshear and Harrell going.

But losing Behanan isn’t what made the difference. His loss will hurt, yes, but losing the constant stream of distractions that he brought with him certainly won’t.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.

 

VIDEO: Zion Williamson’s coach is holding a sleeping baby

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LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson was insane, but it wasn’t quite crazy enough to wake up the sleeping toddler that Williamson’s coach is holding in his arms:

This is peak AAU basketball.

It will never be more AAU than that.

PHOTOS: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball showdown was, of course, insane

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In a showcase game in the adidas Uprising event in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball — the youngest member of the Big Baller Brand — faced off with Zion Williamson, who is a force on youtube and a highlight machine.

The crowd was insane for the game:

According to a report from ESPN, there were even concerns about whether or not the game would actually be allowed to be played; the police and fire marshall considered shutting the event down.

Williamson, of course, put on a show in warmups:

At the time of this posting, there were more than 60,000 people watching a livestream of the game on BallIsLife’s facebook page:

(UPDATE: It’s now over 70,000)

Puerto Rico Tip Off bracket revealed

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The bracket of the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip off was revealed Wednesday, setting up a showdown between a 2016 Final Four participant and the 2016 Big 12 tournament champion.

South Carolina and Iowa State headline the event, which will be played Nov. 16-19, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The Gamecocks are on the top half of the bracket, opening against Illinois State while the Cyclones are on the bottom half, squaring off against Appalachian State.

Boise State vs. UTEP is the other top-half quarterfinal while Tulsa vs. Western Michigan is the other.

The championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off on Sunday, Nov. 19.