Pitino says Behanan, a junior who was on the All-Tournament team at the Final Four, had been suspended from the team since mid-October because of disciplinary reasons. Behanan started practicing last Friday and will be dressed in Tuesday's game against Hofstra, but Pitino said he didn't know if he would play.
"I had a target of 30 straight days of doing the right things," Pitino said. "I didn't think he would do it. . . . He screwed up the first day and then 30 straight days where he didn't screw up. He had some tough things to adhere too.
"I didn't think he could do what we put forward, physically, mentally, emotionally," Pitino said. "I just didn't think he could do it."
Pitino said Behanan has "surprised us all," noting that he was late to his first two commitments when the punishment started in mid-October.
Behanan is expected to push Montrezl Harrell for playing time at the four-spot and Pitino said he's going to help Harrell improved in practice.
While Behanan was not made available for comment, Pitino said he's really "done a great job" of trying to turn things around.
"I think he's embarrassed more than anything and knows he let the team down," Pitino said of Behanan.
Hancock, the MVP of the Final Four, has been sidelined during the preseason and missed the first game with an Achilles injury. He said on Saturday that he had hoped to return at some point this season.
Pitino said he was released by doctors on Monday and went through practice. He had been doing individual workouts and staying in shape.
"The doctors have determined it's the best it will be," Pitino said. "Everything we did really worked and he progressed nicely.
"He could play another 10 years and have no problem at all or have trouble next week, you don't know. There's no scientific data. I know he's been on edge wanting to get back and he's kept himself in great shape."
Pitino said Kevin Ware, who suffered the gruesome broken leg in the NCAA Tournament last season, isn't expected back for a couple of weeks. Pitino said Ware is "limping" and favoring the injury some.
"He won't play," Pitino said of Ware. "When he stops limping. Every guy I've had come off major injury does the same thing."