For Louisville and everyone who is a Louisville Cardinals fan, our minds have been preoccupied with what happened to Kevin Ware Sunday and how our team responded. There are many perspectives – one that is standing out for me is Luke Hancock.
I had the chance to view Luke as a freshman and sophmore player at George Mason. My daughter is a student there and although I’ve been a Card for 30 years, it was fun to watch them play.
There is a road that I drive to and from work with a parking lot where I stopped the day that GMU was playing Villanova in the first round of NCAA – I had to stop because I was afraid I would wreck my car. When Luke let out the 3 point shot that won the game, I sat there in my car by myself screaming like a crazy person, talking on the phone to my daughter and husband – all of us delirious with excitement.
I remember that parking lot every time I drive by.
When Coach Laranaga decided to take his ear-splitting whistle to Miami, Luke decided to leave, too. The same day my daughter called upset that Luke was leaving, I saw on the Card website that he was going to Louisvile. Talk about mixed feelings – but mostly happy because I thought he be a good addition and presence to the Cards.
He patiently sat on the bench all year – experiencing the highs and lows of last years’ team, taking it all the way to New Orleans. It was thrilling, and not too surprising, when UK took the trophy, but I looked forward to this team, and to seeing how Luke would contribute.
Late last spring we heard he suffered a shoulder injury in a pick-up game, but that he would play this season.
I thought it was a lot of pressure to put on him when I heard Pitino talk about him – what a good a player he was, and a leader. I was shocked when I heard he’d been selected co-captain with Peyton without ever playing a game. It seemed to be setting him up for some pretty high expectations.
When he started to play in the fall, he seemed to be kind of lost on the floor. At that time, I had no idea of the extent of his shoulder injuries. I heard people grumble about him taking up floor space. I thought they needed to give him more time.
Then I heard about the real extent of his injuries. He dislocated his shoulder when someone landed on it and it disconnected all the attachments to the bone. He had to be put under to relocate his shoulder they had to reconnect everything.
If you’ve ever had a frozen shoulder, you know that the pain can drop you to the floor – I can’t imagine how bad his injury hurts - and probably still does.
The trainer says it takes him hours a day to warm up enough to lift a ball over his head – imagine that. Every day working through pain just enough to lift a ball enough to miss the basket. And have your fans diss you on social media - A tough road to go, for any player.
Until…he starts to hit them. Some time in the middle of the winter, he starts to hit threes. I’m yelling at my husband, “Alan, Luke hit a three! Whooo hooooo!” and he does it again and again and again.
Until the next thing you know, some fans start to love him.
And then we play Duke. And Kevin breaks his leg. And everyone freaks out – everyone in the arena, and watching on television, except for the trainers, and Luke.
Luke gets up and kneels down in front Kevin so he won’t be alone.
And I’m thinking – he’s there because he knows what it feels like to be injured and hurt. He probably didn’t get hurt in front of thousands of fans. But, he knew what it felt like to be that hurt and he hung with Kevin until help arrived.
Luke scored 10 points 2 assists and one block in the game. He cleared players back so Tim Henderson could score a three.
He also was a leader when the team needed one.
In my book, he’s a rock star.
Go Luke, Go Kevin. And Peyton, and Gorgui, and Russ, and Chane, and Kevin and Tim, and Zach, and Rick…
Go Cards! We love you. Be well.