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Big East Player to Watch: Chane Behanan (Louisville)

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The Louisville fan base had high expectations for Chane Behanan prior to his freshman year. For the most part, Behanan played his role for the Cardinals, rebounding and finishing with efficiency on offense, but he didn’t play like a stud.

That can partially be attributed to Rick Pitino’s system, where six players, including Behanan, averaged between nine and 12.6 points per game. Now that Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith have graduated, however, Behanan could be asked to carry more of the early scoring load as newcomers adjust to the system.

Behanan rarely disappeared on the glass as a freshman, but he had bouts of inconsistency on offense, scoring fewer than five points nine times in the regular season. But he’s on his way to being reputed as a PTPer in the NCAA tournament. In Louisville’s run to the Final Four, the frosh averaged 13.2 points and eight rebounds, up from season averages of 9.5 and 7.5, respectively.

If Behanan can maintain, or exceed, that level of play in 2012-13, he will be a force to be reckoned with in the Big East.

One thing worth watching is how the arrivals of Montrezl Harrell, a 6’8” forward, and George Mason transfer Luke Hancock affect Behanan. Harrell has the reputation of a superior rebounder while Hancock showed potential as a mid-major scorer before transferring. Realistically, though, neither should steal Behanan’s touches while playing simultaneously, given Harrell’s status as a raw offensive player and Hanock’s proclivity to stay on the perimeter.

The only issue would arise from playing time.

Back in the end of July, Jody Demling of Cardinal Authority wrote that the addition of Harrell would push Behanan to work harder, as he realizes he’s in competition for minutes. Demling quoted Peyton Siva saying, “He’s going to be pushing Chane, which will then help Chane.”

A healthy Wayne Blackshear could also preclude Behanan’s emergence in the scoring department, but while Blackshear, Harrell, and Hancock get their feet wet, Behanan should come on strong.

Follow Ari Kramer on Twitter for more on the Big East.

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