Center of Attention

WVU's Mike Gansey's homecoming for the first round of the NCAA tournament has made him something akin to Elvis at the Wolstein Center.

Gansey, who hails from nearby Olmstead Falls, Ohio, has been the focus of local media attention from the moment the Mountaineers received the bid to play in Cleveland. While that destination probably wasn't the first choice of some other members of the West Virginia squad, it suited Gansey to a T. Not only is the facility, located on the campus of Cleveland State University, very close to his hometown, but it's also a venue that he is very familiar with.

"My brother, Steve, is a freshman here, and I played a lot here over the summer," the slender junior said of the Wolstein Center's courts. "I've played a lot both in the auxiliary gym and in the main gym."

Gansey has also played at least two contests on the main floor, including a high school state championship game and his first collegiate game for St. Bonaventure. While that familiarity might help him some, having a personal cheering section of both friends and family could help even more. Approximately 30 supporters, including his mother and stepfather, high school coaches, and friends from his hometown were at Wednesday's practice session.

"That's the kind of town Olmstead Falls is," said Mike's mother, Gale Mazella, while Gansey took part in Wednesday's workout. "It has been very successful in basketball, and has won its conference ten years in a row. The program is strong there, and Mike learned a lot there. but it's still a small community, and they are behind Mike 100%. It will be interesting to see how many people are able to get tickets and show up."

That WVU is in Cleveland at all came as a big surprise to Mazella, who heard lots of speculation about WVU's first round destination, but none of which included the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"I was shocked when we saw that it was Clevelend. I was ecstatic," the outgoing Mazella said. "But at the same time, it was sort of a problem. Our phone has been booked solid. We've had so many phone calls for tickets. I hope it's not too much pressure on him, but I think he's handling it ok. I think most of the pressure on him was at Madison Square Garden. He's just more excited than anything. It's been his dream to play in the NCAA, and now he's here. I don't thinks he's touched the ground since New York."


Mazella bought 400 tickets for Gansey's St. Bonaventure game at the Wolstein Center, but obviously won't be able to approach that number this year.

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The lights at the Wolstein Center throw more glare than any other facility the Mountaineers have played in this year.

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Gansey's family hosted approximately 40 members of the Mountaineer travelling party for dinner after the proactice and interview sessions.

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Most of Wednesday's light workout consisted of individual shooting drills. Some diamond two on one fast break drills and three on three work punctuated the 50-minute session.

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To prepare for the late starting time (9:40 p.m.), WVU's curfew will be moved back to midnight on Wednesday.

"I want to make sure they stay awake until at least then," head coach John Beilein said.

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