Behanan's play improving for the Cards

ATLANTA - University of Louisville sophomore forward Chane Behanan admittedly hasn't played up to his standards in recent weeks. But he showed glimpses of improved play last week and will be a huge key for the Cardinals in the Final Four.

Two weeks ago sitting in a locker at Rupp Arena, University of Louisville sophomore Chane Behanan showed a different side of himself.

The normally tough-guy, funny, power forward wasn't playing up to his standards and admitted that "I don't know what's wrong."

"I'm just not playing well," Behanan said before the Colorado State game.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore – who was named West Regional MVP as a freshman – hasn't scored in double figures in 10 games and hasn't led the team in any statistical category since grabbing nine rebounds at DePaul on Feb. 27.

But as the Cardinals prepare to play Wichita State in Saturday's Final Four at the Georgia Dome, Behanan has showed signs of breaking out again.

"Most definitely," Behanan said. "I'm trying to be more aggressive. I am trying to do that early and keep it going throughout the game. It's getting there."

Behanan had one of his better game in recent memory against Duke, finishing with eight points, eight rebounds and three steals and helped the Cardinals advance to a second consecutive Final Four.

"I think he was holding out," assistant coach Kevin Keatts said with a laugh. "I think he was holding out until the regional championship game and then he decided to play. Remember, he was the MVP last year? No, he is playing much better."

Behanan is averaging 9.6 points a game and the team's second-best 6.3 rebounds a game and has 52 steals in 36 games. He's started 22 consecutive games and is averaging 26 minutes a game.

"I think Chane was disappointed in the way he's been playing and said, ‘It's time for me to play better'," U of L coach Rick Pitino said.

And Behanan agrees with his coach.

"I just have to stay aggressive and stay focused," Behanan said. "I know I can play better and I will. The main thing is me being active on defense."

Behanan had seven points and four rebounds against Oregon and has 28 points and 16 rebounds in four NCAA Tournament games.

Behanan said he had a career-high 13 deflections against Duke, including eight in the first half, and for much of that game was playing for his close friend, Kevin Ware who suffered a broken leg in the first half.

"Kevin and I are close, like brothers," Behanan said. "People don't realize but we're a lot a like and have been through a lot. I want to win this for him.

"I'm going to do whatever I can to win it."

DUNK RECORD

Behanan does have a chance to set a new school record for dunks in one season this weekend at the Final Four.

Behanan currently has 57 dunks this season and is two behind the school's single-season record of 59 set in 1987-88 by Pervis Ellison. He's 55 behind Ellison's career record of 162 at this point.


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