Louisville basketball: Final Four notebook

ATLANTA – It's game day! The NCAA Tournament Final Four will be played later today and the University of Louisville is making a second straight trip to the season-ending party. Here are a few notes heading into the game:

WARE HEADS IN THE STANDS

There will be over 1,000 poster-like heads of injured sophomore guard Kevin Ware in the stands at the Georgia Dome on Saturday night.

New York Knicks player Amar'e Stoudemire donated $2,500 to purchase the Ware heads and give them to fans in the students section.

Several media outlets have reported the Stoudemire foundation got involved after the company that makes the fat heads reached out to NBA players who had sent well-wishes to Ware on Twitter after his injury last week.

WARE WILL BE ON THE BENCH

Ware, who suffered the horrific broken leg against Duke and has become a national story after the injury, will be on the U of L bench tonight.

The sophomore traveled to Atlanta this week with his teammates, the day after he was released from an Indianapolis hospital.

On Friday, Ware didn't attend any of U of L's media day obligations or practice at the Georgia Dome because "he is worn out," according to SID Kenny Klein.

But on Friday night Ware's mother, Lisa Junior, said he was rested up and "ready" to be with his teammates on the bench.

REFS FOR THE GAMES

According to the NCAA on Saturday morning, Karl Hess, Les Jones and Terry Wymer will be the officials on Saturday's game.

Hess, who is mostly an ACC ref but also does some Big East games, has only called on U of L game this season – at Connecticut. Hess is the official who gave Rick Pitino a technical in a game last season for yelling, "Why, Why?" at Peyton Siva after Siva has committed a foul away from the basket.

Jones, who is an ACC and Big East official, was on the Colorado State game in the second round. U of L is 3-0 this season with him on a game.

Wymer is a Big Ten/Mid-America Conference official.

Other Final Four officials are: Mark Whitehead, John Cahill, Mike Eades, Tony Greene, John Higgins, Randy McCall and Doug Sirmons.

A FEW LEFTOVERS

*U of L has the nation's longest winning streak at 14 games and it's the longest at U of L since the 2003-04 season. The school's all-time longest winning streak was 18 games in 1979-80.

*The 33 wins by the Cardinals matches a school-record for most in a season, tying the team with the 1979-80 team and the 2004-05 squad.

*U of L is 2-0 all-time against No. 9 seeds.

*Russ Smith holds the record for most steals in a single season at U of L at 87 last season. Siva has 84 and Smith has 81 this season.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Asked about what Duke coach Mike Kzryzewski called the "boom factor" when playing U of L, Rick Pitino had a good comeback.

"I hope the boom's there for a couple more games," he said with a laugh. "I think it's a strong desire to win, the style of play. We shoot 29 percent against Syracuse in the first half, we realize we didn't stick to our offensive game plan. We shot the ball to quickly, the same way Ohio State did. When you do that you take bad shots that leads to fast breaks and things that don't go correctly for you. In the second half we did all the right things and came back."


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