Kevin Ware makes his return for Louisville

Kevin Ware played in his first regular-season game since his gruesome leg injury in the NCAA Tournament last season on Friday night. The University of Louisville junior finished with five points, two rebounds and one assist in 13 minutes.

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said he wasn't going to play Kevin Ware in a regular-season game until he stopped limping.

Ware, who suffered the gruesome broken leg in the NCAA Elite Eight game against Duke last March, had played in an exhibition game but Pitino said he still didn't feel like he was 100 percent. At least, not until late this week.

"Well, the last three days, (trainer) Fred (Hina) just told me – did you see Kevin?," Pitino said. "I said, ‘Yeah, he looks great.' I told him I thought it was time to play him. He said he agreed. I didn't see any limping at all."

So on Friday night in a 99-54 blowout of Cornell, Ware made his return. He played 13 minutes and finished with five points, two rebounds and one assist.

Ware was 2 of 4 from the field and 1 of 2 from the free-throw line.

"It felt great," Ware said. "I am glad I was out there moving and I really felt like I did last year before I got hurt. That's big for me."

Ware said he didn't "feel like I was limping" still but added that his mother and sister came to a practice and said he was limping.

"They could see it," Ware said. "Ultimately, coach knew what he was doing. He was just resting me and making sure the leg was fine, so I didn't back track."

But getting back into the floor was just "great" for Ware, who noted he's feeling 100 percent and has no soreness in the leg.

"It's a long season," Ware said. "It's not even December yet. We have a long way to go until March. I feel like the more I get in the groove when I play more games, the better I will be and I will get back to how I was playing."

Several of Ware's teammates are marveled at how he's returned with Wayne Blackshear noting that "he's a little rusty now, but he's picking it up."

"He's getting back into it," Russ Smith said. "It's fun having him back out there and he's been amazing."

Ware said he's glad all the media blitz that came with the recovery are behind him now because he said "it's basketball season."

"That's the biggest thing," Ware said. "Now, the only thing that is important to me is to win another national championship."

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