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.
The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.
The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.
They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.
That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.
So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.
Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:
With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.
At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes
“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:
“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”
“It’s all money.”
Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.
Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .
Want to talk about coaching luxuries?
Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.