Martino Brock, Kevin Ware

Kevin Ware is going to Atlanta for the Final Four

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He’s home.

Believe it or not, a day and a half after undergoing surgery to repair his mangled lower leg after suffering the most gruesome injury that we’ve ever seen on a basketball court, Louisville’s Kevin Ware was back with his teammates.

His brothers, as he calls them.

Ware suffered the injury in Sunday night’s 85-63 win over Duke and had surgery that evening. He was released from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, making the drive back to Louisville with his family and arriving at the Louisville practice facility to meet up with the rest of the team.

WSFA was there when he arrived at practice:

As he walked in on one leg and crutches, WAVE 3 Reporter Jaimie Weiss asked him how he was feeling. He responded, “Good. Thank you.” His mother Lisa Junior was right behind her son carrying the Midwest Championship trophy. “Thanks for all your support,” she stopped to say. “Thank you so much. We appreciate it.”

Once inside, each player had the opportunity to give him a hug according to Kenny Klein, Sports Information Director. Ware’s girlfriend Brittany said everyone was crying. “It was very emotional.”

Perhaps most importantly, Ware will be making the trip with the Cardinals down to Atlanta, his hometown, for the Final Four.

I wrote on Sunday after he suffered the injury that we shouldn’t be surprised that the Louisville players were able to block out the distraction of Ware’s injury and trip to the hospital. That’s what athletes were designed to do. They compartmentalize. They can direct their focus on the game at hand, what’s happening on the court, instead of worrying themselves with matters at home or matters at school. They can hit free throws while thousands of students are screaming vile and revolting things at them. They can function with tens of thousands of people in the stands watching their every move and millions more doing the same on TV.

They’re trained to handle issues like this.

But if you saw the reaction of those players after the injury, than you should have a feel for just how close this team is. You should have an understanding of just how much it meant to them that their teammate — their brother — was in such agony.

It wasn’t a distraction, but you’re crazy if you don’t think that it was a motivating factor for the Cardinals to get to Atlanta, to Bring Kevin Home.

And you’re crazy if you don’t think that seeing him in the stands, on crutches, will be a motivating factor for Louisville once they get there.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.