The most iconic figure in Louisville basketball this week has been none other than Kevin Ware.
Everything aside for the Cardinals this past week, there was a game to be played and for a good chunk of Saturday’s Final Four contest against Wichita State, a trip to the title game on Monday night seemed in doubt.
With Ware in attendance, cheering his Cardinal teammates on from the end of the bench, Louisville erased a 12-point second half deficit to advance to the National Championship game.
Despite a 24-point, ten rebound performance from Wichita State’s Cleanthony Early, the Shockers were stunned late in the second half thanks to a pair of threes from a walk on and the gritty and crucial play of senior guard Luke Hancock.
Tim Henderson and Hancock are not the highlight names on the Louisville roster, but when chasing a national title, you’re going to need others to step up. Henderson, who was a walk on for head coach Rick Pitino, hit a pair of crucial three pointers that jump started the Cardinals, putting them back into the ball game when all seemed in doubt.
Hancock, then took over down the stretch. A heads up, yet controversial play with 6.3 seconds remaining, virtually ended the game for Wichita State, as Hancock forced a jump ball with Shockers’ guard Ron Baker.
College basketball fans can now catch their breath. Credit the Shockers and head coach Gregg Marshall for an incredible season and a historic run in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Credit Louisville and their depth for making things happen down the stretch.
Louisville will play on Monday, standing just 40 minutes away from cutting down the nets in Atlanta.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS