Crash II

If his nickname isn't "Crash" it should be. Mike Gansey's reputation for playing hell-bent for leather is well known, but what isn't as widespread is just how much the Ohio native has to go through to get ready to play.

"I just get bumps and bruises all the time," Gansey said of his medical status – an understatement on the level of ‘Ralph Friedgen likes to eat' or ‘Steve Spurrier has an ego'. The fact is, the senior forward practically lives in the training room.

"I'm always in the training room – an hour and a half before every game, I'll be in there," Gansey said of the things he goes through to get ready to play. "It's just something I deal with."

Again, the understatement. Gansey probably spends more time in WVU's treatment facilities than he does in his own apartment. Whether it's a cranky back, a bad wrist, or a sprained ankle, West Virginia's undersized front line warrior always seems to be battling something. And while it's not readily apparent to those watching him fling himself around the court like a rag doll, the Mountaineers buzz saw is overcoming a great deal of pain to do so.

"Sometimes I wake up and my back is just killing me, but I try to fight through it," Gansey said. "I'm trying to get a lot of treatment, eat right and sleep well. When the game comes on, I feel better. I guess it's the adrenaline."

That, plus a whole lot of treatment and encouragement from his teammates. After missing practice sessions prior to the St. Bonaventure game, Gansey heard from all everyone as WVU prepared to play.

"My team is very supportive. They were talking to me and saying ‘Mike, are you all right?' and ‘Mike, we need you.' So I took it upon myself to play for those guys and do the best I can."

Lest that sounds a bit sappy, don't think that Gansey views himself as any sort of hero for fighting through injuries. Teammates such as J. D. Collins also battle painful and lingering problems (in Collins' case, it's plantar fasciitis in the foot). It's just that the results of Gansey's play make the injuries he suffers more obvious.

For example, in WVU's win over Duquesne, Gansey, who was also playing with a sprained wrist, got a re-tape job midway through the contest. Although the result pad of tape looked thick enough to severely restrict his range of motion, he continued to handle the ball with aplomb in traffic. That merely served as a scene setter, however, for the more violent incident to come.

Driving hard to the basket in the second half, Gansey took a horrendous spill that resulted in a fully prone crash to the floor. He hit so hard that he actually bounced a few inches off the hardwood before coming to rest face down near the baseline. The impact was so severe that Gansey was heard to say, "I'm done," when the nearest official came over to check on him. However, after a few moments on the floor, WVU's version of a crash test dummy was able to pick himself up and return to action, whereupon he promptly drained a free throw to complete the three-point play.

While plays such as that will certainly make West Virginia's highlight film, they just as surely don't help Gansey's overall state of health. However, at this point in his career, it's just par for the course. It's the way he plays, he's used to being hurt, and he views the resulting complications as mere annoyances.

"I think it's just playing so hard, diving on the ball, taking a charge, maybe lifting in the weight room," Gansey said of the reasons for his bad back, but which could certainly apply to any other area of his battered body. "That's the way I've always played. I've never been healthy the whole year."

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