Garden Dreams

Growing up in New York, freshmen Devin Ebanks and Darryl Bryant dreamed of one day playing at Madison Square Garden. The legendary arena hosts a variety of basketball games from the prep to the pro level, and it's a goal of every New York City-area player to appear in the "World's Most Famous Arena."

"(Madison Square Garden) is the Mecca of basketball," admitted Bryant. "That's every kid's dream. It will definitely feel good to play in there in a college game."

Bryant played his first game in the Garden earlier in the season when the Mountaineers took on Davidson in the Jimmy V Classic in December. That game marked Ebanks' second time in the Garden, his first was playing in the Jordan All-American Classic last year.

The ever-improving freshmen are hoping to have a showing comparable to their last outing in New York City. Against Davidson, both acquitted themselves well. Ebanks had a remarkable 17 rebounds and 13 points, while Bryant had 13 points and two steals.

Those performances will hopefully help the pair avoid any jitters at performing in prime time in front of a national television audience, as the Mountaineers take on Ntore Dame Wednesday night at 7:00 PM. The pair will also have the advtange of some local fan support.

"I have a couple of people coming (to the game,)" said Ebanks. "I'm excited to see them." Bryant is excited to play in front of his home crowd as well.

"I just can't wait to play on the big stage in front of my family and friends," said Bryant. "It will feel good to go back home. I'm excited. Ebanks and Kevin Jones, I know they can't wait to go home either. We haven't been home in since I don't know when. It's been a long time. It will be good for family and friends that can't make it [to West Virginia] for a game."

Ebanks is looking forward to getting a second chance against some of the Mountaineers' in-conference opponents.

"I think it's the best tournament out there," he stated. "Especially with the league this year and how many teams will probably make it to the (NCAA) tournament. I think it will be a fun environment. I just can't wait to get there."

While Ebanks and Jones have seen consistent improvement throughout the season, Bryant has had some trouble with his consistency. After putting up impressive numbers against DePaul with 12 points, he scored just three against Louisville. A return to his home area, however, could be just the spark that he needs to smooth out some rough edges in his play.

"Truck is a very self confident guy," said head coach Bob Huggins. "I think all of those guys will (be fine in the tournament.) We really have five guys from the area if you count Da'Sean Butler and Wellington Smith. They're New York kids. They've played in the Garden before. I think they're excited about it rather than apprehensive about it."

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