dance invite allows Gansey to come home
By Zachary Dzurick
Published March 16, 2005
basketball player dreams of March Madness. Out in the brisk cold
that is March in Cleveland, young hoopsters imagine their outdoor
concrete court is packed arena of crazed basketball fans as part
of the best sporting event on earth the NCAA basketball tournament.
Never in Olmsted
Falls High School graduate Mike Gansey's wildest dreams could he
have ever imagined that he would get to do it at home. Thanks to
a excellent Big East tournament, West Virginia earned a seventh
seed and will open the tournament tomorrow against Creighton at
Cleveland State's Wolstein Center.
"It is a dream
come true," Gansey said. "It has been amazing. It will be a lot
of fun to play at home."
CBS had a TV
crew on hand as the West Virginia players gathered in a club room
to see where they would play.
career has been a roller coaster ride. He begin his college career
at St. Bonaventure scoring 17 points against the hometown Cleveland
State Vikings. He was named to the Atlantic-10 all-freshman team
and then ranked in the A-10's top 20 in four categories as a sophomore.
However, sanctions leveled against the Bonnies resulted with St.
Bonaventure electing not to play their final games. Gansey transferred
to West Virginia but had to sit out last season due to NCAA regulations.
won their first 10 games this season. Gansey won Big East player
of the week honors and then the bottom dropped out as they lost
seven of their next nine. They won their next four games, but a
regular season loss to lowly Seton Hall had West Virginia firmly
on the NCAA bubble.
the team felt the pressure heading into the Big East tournament.
The Mountaineers were the eighth seed in the tournament.
"We were told
we had to win the first game to get in, but we just kept winning,"
played four games in four days. They defeated Providence 82-59,
then cemented their ticket to the big dance with a 78-72 over 7th-ranked
Boston College. Next up was a thrilling 78-76 win over 19th-ranked
Villanova. Gansey scored a team-high 21 against BC and a team-high
22 over the Wildcats. West Virginia trailed for most of the Big
East championship game against 16th-ranked Syracuse but made a late
run to make it interesting before falling 68-59. The loss did not
diminish the fun of playing in Madison Square Garden and the joy
of making the Big Dance.
"It shows our
confidence as a team," Gansey said. "We had a bad slump, but it
is a credit to the coaching staff and the players that we kept at
it. We have been playing really well the last week."