“He’s up and about—he’s actually on crutches walking,” Pitino said. “They want his blood flowing. The only thing they’re concerned about at this point in the next 48 hours because the bone comes out of the skin they’re concerned about a five or ten percent chance of infection. If no infection takes place, they’ll be very excited.”
Ware remains in Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. He is expected to return to Louisville on Tuesday and will be on the bench for Saturday’s game against Wichita State in Atlanta—which happens to be Ware’s hometown, Pitino said.
Since Sunday night’s injury, Ware has been in “great spirits” and showered with support, including receiving a telephone call from NFL great Joe Theismann, who suffered a similar injury in 1985, Pitino said.
Pitino credited Ware for motivating the Cardinals after the injury; Ware implored his teammates to win before leaving the court, the coach said.
“The only words that were coming out of his mouth to the players, ‘Just win the game,’” Pitino said. “He kept repeating it over and over. That was on my mind the entire night, how valiant he was with that type of injury.”
Weeks of intense tournament basketball—not to mention Ware’s injury—have taken their toll on the Cardinals, Pitino said.
The team took Monday off.
“When you win the Big East Tournament and you play in that emotional background and then you play, as I said, this death bracket,” he said. “They’re tired right now, mentally and physically. And emotionally, it was very difficult. If it wasn’t for Kevin, I don’t know if we could have gotten through it last night.”
The Cardinals plays Wichita State, a No. 9 seed, on Saturday in the national semi-final. The winner plays either Syracuse or Michigan, both No. 4 seeds, on Monday for the national championship.
Louisville will have to play those games without a valuable piece, Pitino said.
“Kevin really, really hurts our basketball team not being there because we were short on backcourt substitutions anyway,” Pitino said.
“Our fourth guard is the walk-on, Tim Henderson. Kevin, as you all watched, had great speed, great length. He was playing the best basketball. So now you don’t have any backcourt rotations—you only have two backcourt players, Russ and Peyton. And you can’t play them all those minutes.”