Posted by Will Tucker on April 1st, 2013
- After 40 minutes of dominating Marquette this past Saturday, Syracuse punched a ticket to the program’s first Final Four since 2003, but Jim Boeheim warned his players that they’ve come too far to settle for anything less than a title. “[I]f you don’t win the Final Four you will be more unhappy than you would be if you lose—if you’d lost [in the Elite Eight].” The Syracuse coach admitted that a berth in Atlanta this weekend was so unanticipated that it forced him to cancel an already-scheduled family vacation, and he quipped, “If I know I’m going to lose I would rather lose now and get it over with and I can go to Disney World tomorrow morning.” “I’ve lost two final games and it’s not good, not a good feeling,” reasoned Boeheim, referring to 1987 and 1996 Finals losses to Indiana and Kentucky, respectively.
- The Louisville Cardinals earned themselves a trip to Atlanta alongside the Orange with an 85-63 victory over Duke last night, in a game sadly dominated by the disturbing spectacle of a compound leg fracture Kevin Ware suffered in the first half in front of his team’s bench. Ware’s teammates broke into a scene of hysterical distress at the grisly sight of his leg, which evoked memories of Joe Theismann’s career-ending injury. But the sophomore guard stoically repeated to them, “I’m OK. Just win the game,” while being secured on a stretcher, and Pat Forde credits Ware’s “courage and grace amid terrible pain” with helping his team refocus and play with an unmistakable purpose. That theme resonated in the locker room at halftime, and soon thereafter a 17-2 Cardinals run would quickly put the game out of reach.
- Ware’s injury itself stirred up interesting discussions about the finer ethical points of broadcasting horrific injuries, as well as the absence of a “safety-net” in the amateur realm of the NCAA for athletes who suffer such injuries. After two wide-angle replays in the immediate aftermath, CBS elected to refrain from any additional replays or close-up images of Ware’s leg giving way, focusing instead on the reactions of his coaches and players. Conversely, websites like BuzzFeed and Deadspin quickly tweeted links to videos of the injury. And on the NCAA front, Dan Diamond at Forbes wondered whether Ware had been exploited by a system that contravenes traditional assumptions of labor protection. UofL will fit the bill for Ware’s medical bills, but Diamond points out he “has no recompense to file for worker’s compensation” due to the “student-athlete” terminology.
- The Big East has now placed a team in the past five consecutive Final Fours, but Kevin McNamara at the Providence Journal contends that the ACC is the real winner of Syracuse and Louisville’s accomplishments. After watching its basketball brand slowly erode around Duke and North Carolina, “Adding Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh next season, plus Louisville in 2014, will revitalize a flagging conference and leave fans of the Big East with only memories.” McNamara notes that a potential all-Big East championship game would mark the third Final Four meeting between Boeheim and Pitino, who split such contests in 1987 and 1996.
- On the topic of disturbing injuries, Dave White at On The Banks asks if Eli Carter’s season-ending injury ultimately helped Rutgers and Carter himself. The Scarlet Knights developed a more diverse and consistent offensive character once Carter was no longer dominating possessions, White argues, which helped role players develop into more confident offensive weapons. Next year will present Mike Rice with a watershed challenge, as he seeks to reconcile Carter’s scoring talent with more equitable ball movement: “It can’t be all about Eli Carter. It has to be about Rutgers. It has to be a team game where everyone trusts each other.”