A "noticeable limp" in Kevin Ware's gait is preventing the Louisville junior shooting guard from making his regular-season return to the Cardinals for the time being.
The biggest story to emerge from the 2013 NCAA tournament was Ware's gruesome broken leg that turned him into a national superstar and empathetic figure in the aftermath. He's spent an offseason recovering, and remarkably is just about all the way back to full strength. But despite dressing for the game, those who thought Ware might get his first minutes of the season on Saturday saw otherwise.
The No. 3-ranked Cardinals opened their season against College of Charleston. The intrigue abounded, in part because Louisville is currently without three of its marquee players. With Ware still on the mend -- despite seeing brief action just a few days ago in an exhibition game -- remember that Chane Behanan is indefinitely suspended and Final Four MOP Luke Hancock is recovering from an Achilles injury.
Nevertheless, Pitino said his team, which led by two points at the half, played "like a starving dog" in the second 20 minutes. That led to the 70-48 final. The Cardinals forced 21 turnovers -- and only gave it away three times.
Senior shooting guard Russ Smith led the Cards with 21. That's no surprise to Louisville fans, who should expect Smith to be one of the leading scorers in the nation this year and a player who looks to shoot it early and often.
As for Ware, it's going to probably be two weeks before he's good to go and play in an actual game.
"He's still limping a little bit," Pitino said at the team's postgame press conference. "And it's noticeable, and when he gets over that he's going to play. He's probably only about two weeks away from playing, but I notice in practice a little bit he's limping. That means, psychologically, he's favoring it a little bit. He doesn't notice it at all. But I don't want to put him in this type of game. The Pikeville [exhibition] situation was just, 'Get out there, get loose.' But he is playing full-blown in practice, but I still notice a limp so I don't want to play him until he's over that. It'll be pretty soon."
Louisville next plays Hofstra, Tuesday at home.