The University of Louisville Alumni Magazine: for alumni, faculty, staff, students and anyone that is a UofL Cardinal fan.
Issue link: http://louisville.epubxp.com/i/141236
T H E B E S T O F T I M E S him. He told Ware he was going to pray for him right there. The story of what happened next would be retold on network news programs and in the international media. While Hancock was praying, Ware decided that he was not going to leave the court screaming or thinking of pain. He started to repeat, "I'm fine. Just win the game." He said the words a dozen times. "Just win the game." In an arena with more than 30,000 looking on, it was quiet enough to hear Pitino tell his players, "He wants to talk to you," as he tried to gather them around Ware. The Cardinals led the game by one point when the injury occurred. They played six-and-a-half minutes and took a three-point lead to the half. After the game, a 22-point UofL victory, Hancock said, "I still don't really remember those six and a half minutes. I couldn't tell you how we got from there back to the locker room. We were all pretty much in shock. If Kevin hadn't kept saying, just win the game, I don't know if we'd Ware decided have gotten it together." That night, Pitino stayed in that he was not Indianapolis with Ware while going to leave the the team returned. In the days court screaming that followed, the Cardinals or thinking of pain. were transformed from a team with local interest to one with He started to a national following. Every repeat, "I'm fine. major TV network was on UofL's Just win the game." campus the day Ware was able he said the words to speak to the media. Via Twitter and other social a dozen times. media, the well-wishes poured "Just win the game." in. From singer Brad Paisley, journalists Ann Curry, Matt Lauer and Larry King, rappers Lil Wayne and Common, and athletes from many sports, including Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Robert Griffin III, Steph Curry, Bryce Harper and former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who was among the first to take to Twitter after the injury. Ware received a phone call in the hospital from First Lady Michelle Obama. You never know when a story will captivate the nation. Ware's did, and looking back on it weeks after the championship, Pitino said he appreciated all of the elements. Amid the bins of mail for Ware that remained in the basketball office weeks after the championship was a letter from Clinton, with the handwritten words, "You inspired the country." It was a devastating moment for the Cardinals. But it was not the end. Against Wichita State, they faced their toughest test of the tournament. Wichita State was up 12 in the second half and the Shockers were shutting down the lane completely. On the bench, seldom-used sub Tim Henderson leaned over to Stephan Van Treese and said, "Somebody needs to do something. We might not have another chance at a Final Four. Somebody needs to make something happen." Turns out, Henderson was that someone. An unassuming junior out of Christian Academy of Louisville, Henderson wouldn't even 24|LOUISVILLE.EDU have been on UofL's roster had he not been persistent in writing letters to Pitino pleading for a chance to earn a roster spot. Coming off the bench, Henderson made back-to-back three pointers to cut a 12-point deficit to six, and the Cardinals were on their way back to claim a 72-68 win. "Once Tim made those shots," Hancock said, "I think guys started to feel like, 'We're going to get this.'" THE FINAL GAME. ONE LAST TEST. The day UofL won its third NCAA men's basketball championship began with a morning appointment for Pitino and Peyton Siva. Pitino was announced as a member of the latest induction class into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Siva rode along to pick up the Frances Pomeroy Naismith award, granted annually to the college player in the nation — 6 feet tall or under — who excelled on the court and in the classroom. Siva would play his best game in the title game against Michigan. But he wasn't alone. Gorgui Dieng would do the same, as would Chane Behanan and Hancock. It took all four key players turning in their best career work to hold off a talented Michigan team, 82-76.