Louisville sophomore guard Kevin Ware is already up and walking, and he has a nice souvenir to keep him company until he's cleared to return.
Cardinals coach Rick Pitino brought the Midwest Region championship trophy when he visited Ware, who remains hospitalized after surgery to repair a gruesome right leg fracture.
"He was real excited about" the trophy, Pitino said after visiting Ware again Monday. "I said to him, 'You want me to bring it back or stay with you?' He said, 'It's staying with me.' I said, 'All right, just make sure you don't lose it.' "
During a two-hour surgery Sunday night, doctors reset Ware's broken tibia and inserted a rod into the bone. Because the bone broke through the skin, doctors are monitoring possible infections. Barring complications, he should be released today.
The Cardinals plan to leave for the Final Four in Atlanta on Wednesday night, and expect to have Ware with them. Ware, originally from New York, moved to Atlanta before high school. He will sit on the bench with the team.
"He's in very good spirits and anxious to get out of the hospital and get back with the guys," Pitino said.
Ware's right leg snapped in the first half of Sunday's Midwest Region final when he landed awkwardly after contesting a shot. The injury devastated his teammates, and several fell to the court crying.
Before Ware was wheeled off the court on a stretcher, he repeatedly urged the Cardinals to "just go win the game." The Cardinals beat Duke 85-63, and said they could not have let Ware down.
"When he was able to watch the players at the news conference, the nurses and doctors told me that was the first time he broke down and cried," Pitino said.
Pitino discounted speculation of a possible previous injury contributing to the break.
"Basically his leg went one way and his shoe went another and the bone split," Pitino said. "There's no preexisting thing that makes it do that."
Ware's injury has dominated social media, and Pitino said he has been moved by the messages of support. Joe Theismann, whose NFL career was ended by a broken leg, called Ware. Sunday, Theismann tweeted, "Watching Duke/ Louisville my heart goes out to Kevin Ware."
Ware tweeted Monday: "I'm thankful for all the support I'm receiving right now. Never thought I'd be the talk of the country."