Behanan, Blackshear Not In Pitino's Current Starting Five

Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Rick Pitino released what he says will "probably" be Louisville's starting five for its season-opener against Manhattan, and it's a group that does not include sophomore standouts Chane Behanan or Wayne Blackshear.

Following the announcement of his contract extension, Rick Pitino met with members of the media on Tuesday to discuss, among other things, his team's first exhibition game against Pikeville Thursday night.

The most intriguing bit of information came when Pitino announced Thursday night's starting lineup, which he says will "probably" also be the lineup when the Cards take the floor against Manhattan in their season-opener on Nov. 11.

According to Pitino, his current starters are Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell and Gorgui Dieng. Two players noticeably absent from that group would be sophomore standouts Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear.

"Chane didn't have the best summer in the world," Pitino said. "He didn't live in the gym like the rest of the guys. He'll catch up. Same with Wayne."

Behanan, the West Regional MVP last season, will not play at all against Pikeville because of a one-game suspension. Blackshear, a former McDonald's All-American who missed much of his freshman year because of a shoulder injury, has been widely predicted to be one of college basketball's breakout stars in 2012-13. Both were expected to be starters this season.

Though Pitino has been fairly critical of Behanan in recent weeks, he did go on to say that he likes what he's seen from the sophomore in practice recently, and that he expects him to be great once the team gets into the season.

Additional notes from Pitino's press conference:

--Pitino was once again quick to praise Siva, saying, "if there's a better point guard in America, I'd like to see it."

--The coach also had high-praise for Russ Smith, whom he sad has been "really, really good" recently. Pitino added that "Russdiculous" is a term of endearment, and that when Russ is bad he's just "ridiculous."

--Freshman Montrezl Harrell is "everything you could want in a power forward." Pitino said that he has simply beaten Chane Behanan out for a starting spot right now, but added that Harrell's presence is the only reason he's not worried about Behanan, because now Chane knows he has to work every day.

--Freshman center Mangok Mathiang is "going to be a special player."

--Though he may not play on Thursday because of an injury, former Cardinal Elisha Justice will be presented with his Final Four ring on Thursday.

--With Siva, Russ and Luke, the team will have three guys on the floor at the same time who can create their own shot. "We haven't had that in a long time."

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