Lady Vols try to stop giant slayers
By Gary Graves | AP Sports Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — One by one, students walked slowly past the food court in the Student Activities Center on the Louisville campus and waited their turns to sign the makeshift 3-by-5 foot poster of injured basketball player Kevin Ware.
‘We stand behind you, Kevin! Get Well soon (hash)5!’ the poster read.
Meant as a tribute to Ware, it could also have been a giant get well card for a school torn between despair for his devastating injury and excitement for one of the best sports days in school history.
Ware broke his right leg in two places Sunday, a horrifying injury that inspired the Cardinals to beat Duke and earn their second consecutive trip to the Final Four. Hours later, the Louisville women’s team upset defending champion Baylor and 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner.
Still, amid the celebration, students, faculty and fans couldn’t get Ware out of their minds — and they didn’t seem to want to.
“It was hard to look at,” freshman Ishmail Wheeler said of Ware’s injury after signing the poster. “I felt for him.”
All around the city, fans expressed their mixed emotions.
Steve Stober scrolled news of the Cardinals’ win and Ware’s injury on the digital sign outside his business, Stober’s Tax Services in Old Louisville.
The messages included “Final Four Baby!” “Go Cardinals!” and “Pray 4 Kevin Ware,” interspersed with the business phone number.
“We take our basketball seriously here,” said Stober, who added that even though this is his busiest season with tax day, April 15, rapidly approaching, he’ll be watching the Cardinals take on the Wichita State Shockers come Saturday.
Ware had surgery late Sunday and remained at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on Monday. Cardinals coach Rick Pitino and his son, Richard, stayed in Indiana with Ware, keeping the Midwest Regional championship trophy in the room.
University President James Ramsey said said Ware will get the best medical care and rehabilitation the university can offer.
The Cardinals women’s team held on to beat Baylor and the imposing Griner 82-81 in Oklahoma City Sunday, but still has to get through second-seeded Tennessee today to give Louisville teams in the men’s and women’s Final Four simultaneously for the first time. On Monday, they were basking in a sea of praise and congratulations — including a postgame locker room visit from Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant, who posed for pictures with the Cardinals.
Men’s point guard “Peyton Siva texted me last night, and he’s like, Coach P is going to text you,” said Cardinals forward and Louisville native Monique Reid. “I mean, that was pretty cool getting a great game from them, and they played an awesome game, too.”
“It was just really exciting, and everybody from high school was texting me. I’m the hometown kid, and I know everybody is really excited, and my dad was crying on the phone. It was very good.”
On campus, students were especially proud to wear Cardinals red and black. It was hard to find anyone not wearing the combination in the student center.
A memorable year that began with Louisville’s football team upsetting Florida in the Sugar Bowl just gets better.
“It’s just unbelievable with the men and women winning,” said senior Asaad Ali, who attended the game in Indianapolis. “The men winning was special, but what the women did sealed the day for us. It was bittersweet because of Ware and the moment, but it was a great day.”
© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.