LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville G Kevin Ware, who broke his right leg Sunday against Duke, was cleared by doctors to accompany his teammates to the Final Four in Atlanta on Wednesday.
The sophomore said the overwhelming support he has received has helped him maintain his spirits and strengthened his confidence of a full recovery by next season. He credits teammate Luke Hancock for calming him down when he saw the bone protruding from his skin.
"He got me to that point where I really had to put the pain on hold," Ware said. "Once he said his prayer, I was kind of thinking the whole time, 'You can either be a crybaby about it or you're going to get your team back and get them in the right mind-set.' "
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said everyone's emotions have settled down knowing Ware will be okay.
"I think we're all fine now," Pitino said. "Just having Kevin around, we can exhale now."
Oncourt implications: Ware was the first guard off the bench for starters Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.
"Kevin has great speed and length," Pitino said. "He was playing the best basketball. Now you … only have two backcourt players. You can't play them all those minutes."
Ware, 6 feet 2, not only was providing breathers, but had become a contributor. He scored a career-high 11 Friday against Oregon and had five assists, two rebounds and two steals in the previous round against Colorado State.
Pitino is mulling shifting Hancock and fellow SF Wayne Blackshear to the backcourt in some situations. Walk-on G Tim Henderson, whose 3.5 minutes per game usually came late in blowouts, could see expanded minutes.
Said Pitino: "We're just going to have to mix it up."
Better D: Michigan, at times this season, has struggled on defense. It allowed 81 points in a loss at Indiana, 84 in a loss at Penn State and, most recently, 51 in just the second half in a loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament.
"Even though it didn't look it to all of you — or to me sometimes, this year — we have worked on defense like crazy," coach John Beilein said.
In the tournament, the Wolverines held high-scoring South Dakota State G Nate Wolters to 10 on 3-of-14 shooting. They allowed 53 to VCU. And after allowing 85 in an overtime win against Kansas, they allowed just 59 to Florida.
"I think a lot of that just goes to our attention to detail and us being prepared going into the game," PG Trey Burke said. "We know it's all or nothing now."