On Sunday the number one seeded Louisville basketball Cardinals and the number two seeded Duke Blue Devils clashed at Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium for their Elite Eight matchup, one of the biggest Elite Eight matchups of all time. The Cards go on to the Final Four to face the Wichita State Shockers in Atlanta courtesy of a 85-63 victory.
When the two teams played earlier in the season at the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Cards played without an injured Gorgui Dieng. Additionally, Louisville had Kevin Ware who was still finding his place on the team and Luke Hancock who couldn’t find the bottom of the net with both hands. Times have changed for both super subs.
Unfortunately for Ware, his season ended on one of the most gruesome bone breaks on live television since the famous Joe Theismann’s Monday Night Football injury in 1985. It triggered tears and prayers immediately. Coach Rick Pitino said that the broken bone came about 6 inches out of the skin and will take a year to recover from.
The highly partisan Indianapolis crowd let the Cardinals hear it right from the opening Chane Behanan dunk. In fact, Behanan scored Louisville’s first 6 points. His team was obviously not intimidated by the Blue Devil mystique.
The other issue that would come into play was the fact that the Cards could run 9 players without a loss of talent whereas Duke plays 6.
Louisville attacked the rim relentlessly which caused early foul trouble for Duke’s Ryan Kelly. And their star Seth Curry was shut down for the entire first half. In the meantime, the Cards kept coming. Based on the number of players, Louisville had fouls to give.
When Kelly got back into the game, on minute later point guard Peyton Siva went right at him on a shot in the lane and Kelly came out with his third foul. He sat for the rest of the first half.
Then the tragedy.
With 6:39 left on the clock, Ware had to run cross court to guard a three point shot from Tyler Thornton and landed so horrifically that you saw his right leg snap on live television. CBS Sports thankfully only replayed the shot twice in the interest good taste and respect.
The injury devastated the team. Game play stopped for nearly nine minutes while Ware was attended to and put on the gurney to be wheeled out of the arena for Indianapolis’s Methodist Hospital. How bad was the injury? Medical staff covered the break with towels in an effort to hide it from the television cameras and the fans in the arena.
From that kind of scene, it’s hard to realize that the show must go on so when Ware left it was game time again. Louisville took some time to channel their emotions back into the task at hand.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton