"We are very disappointed in him," Pitino said. "The team is very disappointed in him. We have very lofty goals. We're coming off back-to-back Final Fours, back-to-back league championships. To jeopardize that is an awfully selfish thing to do. He's not only let his teammates and his coaches, but himself down."
Pitino won't elaborate on what specific incident led to the university action to suspend Behanan. Student disciplinary matters are protected by privacy laws, and university officials cannot comment. He remains a student at U of L, with a concrete agreement in place to pave the way for his return. But Pitino said completing those steps is up to Behanan, and that he's off to a bad start.
"He knew the rules, and he knew he was on his last chance, and then he broke them, and continued to break them once he was on suspension," Pitino said. ". . . It's totally out of our hands and in his hands, and so far everything he has put in his hands has not turned out real well right now. We're moving on, planning on playing without him, and if the day comes when he comes back, he'll be welcomed with open arms. But that's a long way from happening."
Behanan's absence puts a premium on the play of redshirt freshman center Mangok Mathiang, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds in Saturday's 32-minute scrimmage.
"We've told Mangok, he's better than Gorgui as a freshman, but he's replacing Gorgui as a junior, so we have to get him ready," Pitino said.
U of L's players echoed Pitino's message that the team has moved on.
"We have to," Russ Smith said. "Just like in business, if you're in business with your dad or your brother and your dad or your brother didn't do what he was supposed to do, then you have to move on from it and you have to do what you have to do in order to be successful. For us to be successful, we have to move on. It's unfortunate. We're still very talented in a lot of areas, and because we're talented in a lot of areas, it also changes the dimension of our team."
One dimension that should be improved is shooting. As their postseason run progressed last season, the Cardinals became one of the more efficient offensive teams in the nation. In Saturday's scrimmage, they showed the kind of driving and perimeter game that can put up points in a hurry.
On a White team that won 71-52, Smith, Chris Jones and Anton Gill combined to make nine three-pointers. When Smith scored 13 straight points early in the second half -- including three three-pointers -- it broke open what had been a close game.
Between those three and Blackshear, along with Terry Rozier and Luke Hancock, who says he's ready to play, the Cardinals have the ability to keep defenses spread using players who command attention away from the basket. Even walk-on Tim Henderson chimed in with five three-pointers in six tries Saturday.
"It's a major advantage," Hancock said. "I think just the scoring options in this room are pretty overwhelming. From our point guard to our five man everybody can score from everywhere on the floor. It gives us a major advantage."
Hancock said that the different look of this team, more perimeter players, motion, slashing and shooting, means it should be able to make up for Behanan's absence if it has to for the long haul.
"We have a job to do, we have to get focused and continue," he said. ". . . The way Montrezl Harrell finishes the ball and Mangok has come along and Wayne can play, all our guys will be able to step in. We're talented enough where losing one guy is not going to kill us. We're still going to be a successful team."
Next up for the Cardinals is their first exhibition game of the season, on Oct. 29 against Kentucky Wesleyan in the KFC Yum! Center.
Saturday, August 30 2014 3:51 PM EDT2014-08-30 19:51:46 GMT
The University of Kentucky football team got some big plays from young players and a steady start from quarterback Patrick Towles to pound Tennessee-Martin 59-14 in their first season opener at home since 2007.More >>
The University of Kentucky football team got some big plays from young players and a steady start from quarterback Patrick Towles to pound Tennessee-Martin 59-14 in their first season opener at home since 2007. More >>