Kevin Ware and Georgia State chase Sun Belt title

Seems like a long time ago when Kevin Ware broke his leg in that NCAA basketball game against Duke, becoming a celebrity around the world. A lot of things have changed for Ware in a time span of two years.

Ware dropped off the University of Louisville basketball team after playing in nine games during the 2013-14. After receiving approval from the NCAA for a medical redshirt, he returned home to Atlanta to recuperate. He joined the Georgia State University program for the 2014-15 season.

Kevin Ware with a new number at Georgia State.
Kevin Ware with a new number at Georgia State.

Quite an adjustment for Ware, playing in the 3,500-seat GSU Arena, where the average attendance is 1,709 fans per game. He’s happy to be back on the court, wanting to be known for his basketball abilities, not the guy who broke his leg on national television. But his celebrity has followed him to his new location.

“A lot of people want to talk to me about my injury or they will just stare at me, so sadly yes, but I don’t let it go to my head,” he said during a recent interview.

His number 5 sold a lot of UofL shirts after the injury, but he wearing a zero this season. “I wanted to be the number 5 when I came here, but I think it is retired so it was only right that I chose 0 for a fresh start. Next year, I will probably take over 55.”

Screenshot 2015-03-04 14.55.16Ware, classified as a redshirt junior, is a backup guard, averaging 7.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per outing after 29 games. He scored eight points in Georgia State’s most recent game, a 78-69 win over Troy.

Georgia State, which a 13-5 conference record, is currently is a three-way tie for first place in the Sun Belt Conference, sharing the spot with Louisiana-Monroe and Georgia Southern. They will play at Louisiana-Monroe Thursday and host Georgia Southern on Saturday.

Among his teammates is Ryan Harrow, a much-discussed guard on Kentucky’s 2013 NIT team. He’s the team’s leading scorer, averaging 20.3 points per game.

Pitino may have let Kevin Ware down

All the air seems to have gone out of the Kevin Ware drama for now, perhaps just another 24-hour news story.

Rick Pitino, showing where his priorities lie, putting Ware in the University of Louisville’s basketball game against Hartford with just over 11 minutes to go in the first half. He would play six minutes in the game.

Afterwards, Pitino would criticize the media for jumping on a report by a Kentucky-biased blog for Ware’s use of a friend’s car. The blogger, an individual seemingly happier with UofL losses than his own team’s wins, who feeds the hatred of UK fans toward Louisville, stirring the pot every chance he gets.

He’s an individual who has been separated in the past from analytical positions at CBS and Insight Cable for various reasons, most likely we suspect for his obvious bias and incompetence. Sadly, WHAS Radio has made the blogger an integral part of its UK basketball and football coverage.

But the larger issue here may be how Pitino has handled Kevin Ware’s inability to correctly manage the situation in which he was directly at fault.

Sadly, Pitino may have missed an opportunity to teach Ware a valuable lesson in personal responsibility, dismissing any concern about the speeding violation and the missed court date. For all we know, it’s still another instance of a pampered athlete being forgiven by his coaching staff. Certainly not a unique situation at UofL, given all the similar incidents that have occurred in Lexington in recent years.

A multiple game suspension would have been more appropriate, a punishment that Ware probably would have accepted without question.

Ware may have backed Pitino into a corner

Really hard to feel sorry for Kevin Ware.

Ticketed for driving 95 miles per hour in a construction zone, this while using a borrowed car from a friend. Putting his and other people’s lives at risk in a reckless manner. Not smart. Ware was fortunate he wasn’t tossed into a Barren County jail that night.

He apparently ignores the fine, which usually can be mailed in, and misses the court date. Like no one in authority is going to come after him. Dumb. Lucky again that a warrant wasn’t issued Monday and that he’s not in jail today.

Ware apparently hadn’t told anyone on the staff. As a result of Ware’s actions and inaction, Rick Pitino is blindsided on questions about the issues during a press conference.

The news coming as a shock to Pitino, an individual who doesn’t like surprises, wanting to be in control, keeping the focus on basketball and continued success. The coach trying to digest the information, recover quickly, then stumbling for words, contradicting himself at times.

The incident raising questions about Ware’s friend and the use of a borrowed car. Fans of a rival school seizing on an opportunity to point fingers and make accusations about the program. Bringing back reminders of rumors about Ware having been suspended during the summer, a report Pitino and Ware said had no foundation.

Pitino has to be seething about the way Ware has conducted himself, his actions suggesting recklessness, irresponsibility and a lack of maturity. But he has to be careful because in many minds, Ware is still revered by many people after the shocking injury he incurred during the nationally-televised NCAA game.

Does he boot Ware off the team? Probably not. The impact of the traffic incident and missed court appearance will fade from the headlines as the UofL basketball season continues. Indefinite suspension, similar to that for Chane Behanan, would be a possibility. That remains to be seen. Ware’s idiocy led to Pitino being ambushed and embarrassed publicly.

The guess here is that Pitino and Ware will have a “set to” that Ware will never forget. The outcome of the meeting being unpredictable, the actions and reactions within ultimately determining the extent of Ware’s punishment. But then Pitino is anything but predictable.

Kevin Ware’s triumphant return to Louisville basketball

Two hundred and twenty-two days later, Kevin Ware was dressed and on the Louisville bench, a week after being allowed to practice again.

Bringing back memories of his crumbling to the court in the NCAA Regional against Duke, the awful image of the bone protruding from his leg, his teammates and coach in tears, people across America wondering if he would ever play basketball again.Kevin Ware

Rick Pitino, his coach, predicting early on that Ware might be available later in the semester, bringing him along slowly, allowing him to make the emotional adjustment, no one knowing what to expect as the season progresses without him.

Whoa. Look who’s at the scorer’s table at the 13:49 mark of the second half, getting ready to check in for the Cardinals in an exhibition game against Pikevile, a soft murmur rising to a rumbling roar, the crowd rising for a standing ovation.

Kevin Ware ready for the basketball wars, his fans not quite prepared, wanting opposing players to avoid him, hold their collective breath every time he gets in a crowd or attempts a rebound. He goes down, he gets right back up. Has to be a miracle. That’s Kevin Ware out there.

Only appropriate that his first shot would be a three-point attempt, a perfect arch that would ripple the nets at the 8:30 mark.

Ware would miss his next two shots from the field, but hit three of four from the foul line for six points and collect four rebounds before being departing the floor to another standing ovation for his contributions in Louisville’s 90-61 win.

Kevin Ware was back, indeed.

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Before Ware returned, a newcomer named Chris Jones was turning the heads at the KFC Yum! Center, introducing a new style of point guard play for Louisville, a fast-paced, quick-decisioned, action-oriented phenomenon. The plodding, the weaving in and out style of his predecessor a distant memory.

Displaying an extraordinary level of confidence, the junior-guard transfer would collect 19 points, grab six rebounds and make three assists and zero turnovers, continuing to build on his first impression for Louisville fans.

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Russ Smith settling for 12 points, content with seven assists and three rebounds, working on other parts of his game for the pro scouts, rounding out his game, being a leader, the captain that he is this season. He will still be around if points are needed. Count on it.

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Stephan Van Treese still waiting for the switch to turn on. It will. He’s a Hoosier, loves the game too much. Everyone will know when it does.