The Louisville Cardinals have marched their way through the tough Midwest region of the 2013 NCAA tournament and landed in the Final Four.
Unfortunately, the team lost a prominent role player in heartbreaking fashion, as reserve Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome broken leg in the first half of UL’s 85-63 win over the Duke Blue Devils.
Ware’s disturbing injury clearly had a strong effect on his Cardinal teammates, as players were shown dropping to the floor, crying and praying after the guard landed awkwardly defending a three-point shot.
A bone in Ware’s leg was protruding out of the skin, and the Bronx, New York native was carried off in the stretcher after a prolonged period with a towel covering the impacted area.
While the 6’2” replacement wasn’t instrumental to Louisville’s chances to win it all, he did make an impact and was improving each and every game. In the Sweet 16 against Oregon, Ware piled in 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 25 minutes of play.
Before going down against Duke, the 20-year-old had scored three points, grabbed a rebound and stole a ball in just five minutes of action.
One of the most heroic things that Ware did after being injured was implore his teammates to finish the game and get the Elite Eight win. According to Anthony Castellano of ABC News, UL coach Rick Pitino had this to say about the heroics:
The bone’s 6 inches out of his leg and all he’s yelling is, ‘Win the game, win the game.’ I’ve not seen that in my life. … Pretty special young man.
That’s exactly what happened, as Russ Smith poured in 23 points, Peyton Siva dropped 16 points and Gorgui Dieng grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with his 14 points on the way to a 22-point blowout victory.
With a much-anticipated battle with the Wichita State Shockers looming on Saturday evening, the Cardinals are going to continue to rally around their fallen teammate and friend.
Castellano noted that Ware will remain in Indianapolis until Tuesday, but he has already undergone successful surgery. Chris Strauss of USA Today found that the guard is moving on crutches as of Monday morning.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Ware on the sideline against the Shockers and—even if he’s unable to attend the Final Four contest in Atlanta—provide moral support for the Cardinals in spirit.
Wichita State’s run has been quite impressive, but the No. 9 seed's run is going to end on Saturday, as a hungry and motivated Louisville program—the top overall seed in the event—has even more reason to win due to Kevin Ware's injury.