Big Assist

Mike Gansey had seven assists during WVU's 82-70 win over St. Peter's on Saturday, but he was actually on the receiving end of the biggest setup of the day.

The latter didn't come in the form of a pass form a teammate on the court, but rather in the numerous treatments he received for a deep thigh bruise, courtesy of trainer Randy Meador and his staff. Gansey sustained the bruise during preseason, and then aggravated it during a Friday practice session.

"I can't believe I even played. Yesterday I was on crutches, and I couldn't even walk. I probably got about twenty different treatments in since [Friday] night," Gansey said. "I owe it all to him for helping me out. There was no way I thought I was ever going to play."

Head coach John Beilein agreed with that assessment.

"I did not think he would play. [Friday] during practice, he couldn't do anything. But Randy did a great job of getting him ready. His quadriceps was huge. I looked at it and said, ‘I don't see any way he's going to play.'"

Thanks to the efforts of Meador and his staff, however, Gansey not only played, but played well. His leaping ability seemed unhindered, which he displayed on one monstrous offensive rebound in the first half, and he put up a quite efficient line of 16 points, four rebounds and one assist in 33 minutes of action.

Gansey's hell-bent-for-leather style has its drawbacks, however. Although he is obviously in good physical shape, the constant pounding he endures from bigger bodies, not to mention diving on the floor for loose balls, can take its toll over a season. While many people in his situation might ease back a bit on the all-out play, it seems impossible for the player whose picture might be found right next to the term "gym rat" in the encyclopedia.

"In practice, I should have been smarter, because I've had injuries like this before," the junior transfer observed. "As practice went on the other day, it really started to hurt, but I don't want to miss practice. I never want to miss anything. At the end, it was so swollen I couldn't do anything. But I like being that guy on the team; the guy that is going to run through a wall and do anything. Coach said ‘I know you're a warrior, but you've got to be smarter.'"

Gansey has already made a name for himself due to his willingness to sacrifice his body, but he has other skills as well. Chief among those is an almost preternatural ability to anticipate the trajectory of a ball caroming off the rim or bouncing loose of the floor. More often than not, you'll find the 6-5 swingman getting to those balls first.

"My high school coach always told me, ‘You have an instinct no other player has. It's like you know where the ball is going to go after it hits the rim.' I think it's just an instinct, playing and hustle."

Gansey showed that anticipation during the second half of the opener. As he darted along the baseline, teammate Kevin Pittsnogle launched a three-pointer that failed to draw iron (it was Pittsnogle's only poor shot of the night). Rather than giving up on the ball, Gansey swooped under the hoop, snared the errant shot, and scored on a reverse layup before St. Peter's even realized he had the ball. It was just another demonstration of the court awareness and game savvy that the slightly-built Ohioan brings to the floor, but it certainly won't be the last one, so long as he can stay healthy. Or at least as long as Meador and his staff are around.

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