Kevin Ware returned to the Louisville basketball team Tuesday. When will Luke Hancock (11) and Chane Behanan follow?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kevin Ware is officially the first missing piece to return to the University of Louisville basketball team. The players don't expect Ware to be the final addition to the defending national champions.
They expect Luke Hancock, a co-captain, back from issues with his left foot within the next week to 10 days, and the players also believe that forward Chane Behanan will return from his indefinite suspension, although they are not sure when.
Behanan has been working out twice a day with graduate assistant coach Wayne Turner, but not with his teammates. Behanan is still not living with the rest of the team in Minardi Hall as he tries to convince Cards' coach Rick Pitino to lift the suspension that he announced Oct. 17.
Behanan's picture has not been taken down from his locker in the KFC Yum! Center, which also included towels and game programs Tuesday night.
Hancock, a senior, has also focused on individual drills and swimming to maintain his conditioning.
"I don't (have any news on Hancock), I really don't," Pitino said.
"He's working out. He's swimming. Obviously we need him. Anton Gill's not ready to play right now defensively, so we do need him. But he's not ready."
The Cardinals begin the regular season Saturday when College of Charleston visits the KFC Yum! Center for a 1 p.m. game. The Cougars have been picked to finish third in the Colonial Athletic Association. Louisville defeated Pikeville, 90-61, Tuesday night in the Cardinals' final exhibition game.
Ware returned for his first game action since he suffered a compound fracture to his right leg during the Cards' Midwest Regional championship game victory against Duke. He made his first shot, a three-pointer, from the right wing – and finished with six points and four rebounds in 10 minutes. The crowd of 19,227 greeted him with multiple standing ovations, and also groaned with Ware fell to the court.
But for the Cards to make another powerful national run in March, they'll need two other essential pieces – Hancock and Behanan. Both players made the all-Tournament team at the 2013 NCAA Final Four. Hancock was named Most Outstanding Player.
Hancock is the team's best three-point shooter and facilitator. He knows the offense better than anybody with the exception of Pitino and can play multiple spots. Behanan should be the team's best rebounder. He worked on improving his mid-range jumper and ball-handling during the summer. With Gorgui Dieng in the NBA, Behanan is Louisville's most experienced frontcourt player.
Hancock sat on the bench during the Pikeville exhibition, but was not available in the locker room after the game.
Behanan did not join his teammates on the bench. He has not spoken with the media since an encounter with Eric Crawford and me at a local Starbucks two weeks ago. In that conversation Behanan said that he was positive that he would be back with the team this season.