In the aftermath of the broken leg he suffered in Louisville’s win over Duke in the 2013 Elite Eight, guard Kevin Ware became a very popular figure. While the injury itself brought about sympathy and well wishes from people in all walks of life, his road to recovery motivated many as well. For some the increased attention would be more than welcome, but for Ware it eventually became suffocating due to the focus on his injury.
In a story written by Adam Himmelsbach of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Ware discussed this while also touching on just how hard it was to leave Louisville. Ware will be moving on to Georgia State, where he’ll be closer to his family while just as importantly getting a fresh start.
And with this move the hope is that Ware will be known primarily for his on-court production and not the injury that ended his sophomore season.
Ware gradually stopped attending practices and games. He said he met with coach Rick Pitino sometime in January, and they agreed then that it would be best for him to continue his career elsewhere. Ware said the decision remained under wraps until season’s end because the team did not need a distraction. He added that the perception that he and Pitino had a rocky relationship is inaccurate, saying that Pitino has “probably been the most helpful out of anybody.”
“I just feel like me leaving is a fresh start,” Ware said. “I know a lot of people think of me and think of the leg. But, I mean, I play basketball. I don’t want to be known as a guy who just played for Louisville and got hurt.”
Ware will be joining a program that fell one win short of reaching the NCAA tournament last season, and with guards R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow returning the hope for head coach Ron Hunter’s squad is that they can take the next step and win the Sun Belt’s automatic bid.
With regards to Ware’s status the expectation is that he’ll apply for an immediate eligibility waiver since the plan at Louisville was for him to redshirt in 2013-14. And regardless of when he’s allowed to take the floor for the Panthers, the new beginning of sorts will provide Ware with the opportunity to make sure the lasting impression of him comes from how he plays the game.
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
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.