LOUISVILLE, Ky. — They haven't stopped partying in Louisville as the NCAA champion men's team and runnerup women's squad were welcomed at the KFC Yum Center on Wednesday.
A near-capacity crowd thanked Cardinals players and coaches for providing one of the most satisfying weeks ever, the men delivering Louisville's first championship in 27 years with an 82-76 win Monday over Michigan in Atlanta.
Both programs responded with expressions of gratitude, allowing coach Rick Pitino the final word. Hoarse from a Final Four that included his election to the Hall of Fame and his second title, Pitino asked, "Wouldn't it be great if we somehow got back to Dallas?" for next year's championship.
The stage featured the crystal ball trophy centered in a display that included both Big East trophies and the women's runnerup trophy.
One of the biggest ovations was for guard Kevin Ware, whose horrific right leg break in the Midwest Region final made him a sentimental hero. He reached the steps without crutches before grabbing them to get to his chair, his words drowned out by cheers. Fans didn't forget the women making a memorable charge, highlighted by an 82-81 upset of defending champ Baylor.
UConn eyes more celebrations: With heralded freshman Breanna Stewart, sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and most of the team that won an eighth women's title back, this could be the next great Huskies era under coach Geno Auriemma.
"We feel like all we can go is up from here," said Mosqueda-Lewis, who scored 18 in the 93-60 rout of Louisville on Tuesday in New Orleans.
Auriemma didn't want to look ahead, but said of Stewart: "Stewie certainly is different than any other college player that's playing right now."
More than 2,000 fans welcomed the Huskies back during a celebration in Storrs on Wednesday, with signs including several marriage proposals for players.
Hoosier leads New pack going pro: Indiana 7-footer Cody Zeller, Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams and Missouri guard Phil Pressey were the latest standout underclassmen to declare themselves eligible for the NBA draft. Zeller, a sophomore who led the Hoosiers in scoring (16.5) and rebounding (8.1), was a second-team All-American and is projected as a top-10 pick. "I kind of knew it might be my last year, so I enjoyed every minute of it," Zeller said.
Florida: Forward Will Yeguete may have a second knee surgery this offseason to correct problems that arose during the NCAA Tournament, coach Billy Donovan said. Yeguete, who will be a senior, missed six games after surgery to repair floating bone chips in his right knee. Donovan said pain and swelling, which kept Yeguete out of practice before two NCAA Tournament games, raised concerns about additional surgery.
Frozen Four: College hockey's showcase event will be staged in Pittsburgh in a week of firsts. The Frozen Four has never been to western Pennsylvania. And three of the four teams — Massachusetts Lowell, St. Cloud State and Quinnipiac — have never been to the national semifinals. The fourth member, Yale, hasn't been this far in 61 years. "We were kind of in awe," said Riley Wetmore, captain for Massachusetts Lowell, which plays Yale at 4:30 p.m. today, followed by Quinnipiac-St. Cloud State at 8 (both on ESPN2). The winners meet at 7 p.m. Saturday to produce a first-time champion.
More Colleges: The USF baseball team (19-14) extended its winning streak to five games by beating visiting UCF (18-16) 9-3. … The host Gators softball team (39-4) beat the Bulls (32-12) 9-1.
Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report.