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And Another Thing

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Associated Press
Instead of caving, the Cardinals used the moment as fuel to simply sweep Duke away in the second half.

Final Four: One more thought

I don't know if Louisville, the only No. 1 seed left and the prohibitive fave now to take it all in Atlanta next weekend, will go on and do just that. What I do know is yesterday it passed the sternest test any team in this tournament has had to pass, and maybe has ever had to pass.

If you saw the gruesome leg injury to Louisville reserve guard Kevin Ware, you know what I'm talking about. In 36 years covering sports, I've never seen anything more viscerally shocking. If you haven't seen it, I'd recommend you not. It will literally turn your stomach.

Trauma like this is not something college athletes experience every day. They are a supremely coddled subset of a coddled, insular society -- nowhere do you ever live in a bubble more than you do in college -- and what they perceive as adversity is largely manufactured: Deficits to be overcome, positions to be won, hostile road environments to be bent to their will.

But this?

This was full-metal jacket reality, and that it happened in front of the Louisville bench made it even more horrific. Players on the bench reportedly vomited. Head coach Rick Pitino and many of his players burst into tears. Even the Duke players were distraught; there's one clip of Mike Krzyzewski looking utterly bereft, like a small boy who's gotten lost on his way home from school.

Here's the amazing thing, and maybe it simply speaks to the resilience of young people: Instead of caving, the Cardinals used the moment as fuel to simply sweep Duke away in the second half. Instead of caving, they rallied around Ware's last words to them -- "Go win the game" -- and the repeated instructions from Pitino, acknowledging that Ware played his high school ball in Atlanta, to "Get Kevin home."

Now that was a moment. You can't exactly call it One Shining Moment, but in its own way, perhaps, it's the shiniest Moment ever.

Ben Smith's blog.

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