With 6:33 remaining in the first half of UofLâ€™s 85-63 win over Duke in the Midwest Regional final, we were all changed forever. A gruesome injury suffered by Cards sophomore guard Kevin Ware sent his teammates diving to the floor and tears flowing all over Lucas Oil Stadium. As UofL gets set for a return trip to the Final Four this weekend, I am going to take you inside the locker room after that game. It was a time for celebration, but also a time to reflect on a moment that these kids will never be able to forget.
Kent Taylor: You were the guy who was there with him holding his hand. What was that like?
Luke Hancock: Very tough situation. It was almost like you wanted to help him and there was nothing you could do. It was just a tough situation.
Taylor: How do you refocus and play basketball right away after that?
Hancock: I donâ€™t think it was really right away. I think everybody was still thinking about that and had it on their mind. I remember telling people on the bench that I just couldnâ€™t get focused for awhile. You canâ€™t lose that game after the guy who is injured like that is the one telling us to win the game. We had to win that one for him.
Taylor: He said that when he was lying on the court?
Hancock: â€œWin the game, win the game.â€ Thatâ€™s all he said.
Hancock: Heâ€™s a very strong guy. Obviously, if something like that happens to someone, theyâ€™re in a lot of pain, and he was looking at me and talking to me. He saw people around him and told them to win the game. Thatâ€™s all he wanted.
Taylor: How hard was it for you to get back into the game?
Chane Behanan: It wasnâ€™t hard at all. We just continued to play and we knew we had to do it for him.
Taylor: Emotionally, have you ever experienced anything comparable to that?
Behanan: No, I havenâ€™t. I donâ€™t remember the last time I cried.
Taylor: How important was it for you to have him be a part of the post game celebration, carrying his No. 5 jersey around?
Behanan: It was very important, just for the simple fact that he would do anything to have been out there with us. I was just really speechless and just had to ask the question why did it have to happen to him at this point in time?
Taylor:Â Did you get physically sick?
Behanan: Yes, I dropped to the ground. I canâ€™t see nothing like that. Thatâ€™s what brought tears to my eyes. I really canâ€™t believe thatâ€™s my brother sitting on the sideline with his bone popped out (of) his leg. Like literally out, I saw white literally out. Itâ€™s crazy.
Montrezl Harrell: I saw it firsthand, right there in front of me and all I did was cry. I had to walk down to the other end, because I was about to break down. Thatâ€™s all I did was cry. It was just moving for me to see something like that happen to a person like that. Kevin Ware is a great guy, but while he was on the ground, in pain, he told us that we had to win this game, so I felt like it was something that we had to do.
Taylor: What did you say when you gathered the players together for a prayer before play resumed?
Peyton Siva: I just wanted to say a quick prayer for Kevin. Thatâ€™s why I huddled the guys up and just asked God to just be with him and heal him. I know Kevin will be alright and at halftime Coach P just told us to get him back home. Heâ€™s from Atlanta and thatâ€™s what we did. Heâ€™ll be in Atlanta, right there on the bench cheering with us.
Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-TribuneÂ