I've refrained from posting on this so far because as a kid who sprained his ankles all the time because of the crappy low-tops my parents bought me, I'm hyper-sensitive to leg injuries. That was the worst I've seen personally and shook me pretty deeply as it did the players.
This started out as a response to one of the threads in regards to Kevin's bad break, but I want to expand on it and share a few other thoughts I've had as well. The person I’m responding to (doesn't matter who) was talking about what could have been with Kevin's career and how he would have been a great addition to next year. Let's change that. Let's drop the could-a / would-a and let's focus on the WILL BE.
Surgeons are all reporting that while this was a bad break, it's absolutely repairable.
It was not a compound fracture. While it was an open fracture, it was not a comminuted fracture (broken in multiple places). There's a pin in place and he is already up on crutches and moving around.
Kevin will be back. He's going to have an important role to play next year and I'm going to be his biggest fan as he does so.
Let's talk about what we saw and what it means for the rest of this tournament and for next year's season. There were some key moments immediately following the break that gave us a glimpse at the soul, the heart of this team.
Gorgui stepping up and pulling in Russ and Chane after the accident. Luke stepping up to go sit with Kevin and comfort him as the trainers worked. Siva pulling the team around for prayer. And then Kevin himself, calling the team over for a last word before he left, ignoring his injury and trying to get the team on track.
The guys were visibly shaken for the first few minutes of play after and my thought was, "Let's just make it to halftime without making any mistakes that can't be undone - like fouling." And they did. It was rough but they held their own. At halftime, it would have been very easy to let the shock and emotion of the moment turn inwards and to have lost heart. But they were able make the decision to channel that rawness and turn it into determination to do what needed to be done.
All of this shows the leadership skills, the incredible strength of character these guys have. What happens in what remains of the tournament doesn't matter. These boys that we've cheered for all season have changed, matured. They now are men of character. They have learned the lessons they need to succeed in life. While I can't point at a single player and say that they're the best in the country, this team together is one of the best I've seen. They have my loyalty and support no matter what happens and wherever they go from here.
For those players coming back next year, we're not just getting back a group of seniors. We're getting back a group of battle hardened veterans. We're getting back some tremendous talent and there is a small, but non-zero chance that we could be looking at back-to-back championships. Before you object and say let's focus on one thing at a time, I acknowledge that. We have two very tough games to get through for this year and huge unknowns for next year. At the same time, I choose to embrace the optimism, the hope and the faith in some pretty special guys.
I'm proud to support them as a fan. I'm going to cheer my ass off next week and hopefully the following. The University of Louisville truly is a unique place among all the schools in the nation and I'm fortunate to have been a small part of the past year. Card Chronicle has been a big part of that, and I'm proud to be a part of such a classy group of fans.
4/2/2013: Edited to use correct terms for the fracture