Loads of different members of the Louisville Cardinals are going to get the credit for their winning of the 2013 National Championship: Peyton Siva for his second-half awesomeness, Luke Hancock for having some signature first-half 3-pointer moments and Rick Pitino for his in-game adjustments. Those are all well-deserved, although Chase Behanan‘s play needs to get the proper respect it deserves as well.
Behanan was most likely the least-known player to casual fans before the game got underway. Even Kevin Ware (and his leg-bone) were a more household name than the forward. It is easy to see why he would be overshadowed by Ware, Siva’s leadership or Russ Smith‘s Russdiculous ability, but it may have been Behanan’s play that actually put the Cardinals over the top for victory.
The sophomore ended the game with 15 points and 12 boards. Those numbers, however, do not tell the complete story. Behanan’s presence underneath the glass proved to be more than just something that shows up in a box score. The way in which he controlled the glass, drew fouls and scored prevented the Michigan Wolverines from ever establishing an inside game.
It didn’t hurt that Behanan was one of the catalysts in the second half either. When the Cardinals’ lead started to get stretched out late in the game, it was Behanan’s rebounding that all but sealed the deal. It was as if he went into the game knowing he needed to be one of, if not the most important, x-factors for Louisville.
He may not have been a household name before the game, but I bet at least Michigan knows who he is now — even if the national spotlight has not been thrown his direction yet.