Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that while the top eight players from West Virginia’s Elite Eight and Sweet 16 teams all played professionally, they were all supposedly unathletic overachievers who were good because of a scheme and not skills.
That’s wildly inaccurate, of course, and it was Mike Gansey who personified theÂ team’s ability to prove people wrong moreÂ than any of the other Mountaineers. He was 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, but rebounded like a power forward, jumped like a joke, shotÂ 3-pointers like a Bird, slashed like a point guard and defended like a thief. Â
Undrafted in 2006 and denied chances to play in the NBA by both health and circumstances, he is now it Fabriano, Italy, with his first regular season game Sunday. His experience in his words come after the jump…
I am in Fabriano, Italy,Â a very small town almost in the middle of Italy.Â It is about a 2.5 hr drive to Rome and an hour drive to the coast and the beach, so it is not all that bad.Â There is not much to do in the town so on our off days I will drive somewhere to sight-see and get away.Â Â The town I am in is beautiful, surrounded by mountains and hills everywhere.Â Sometimes when I drive to practice I have the best view to see the mountains and, man, is it a great sight.Â
Our team is very young and we play only about 7 guys, but I think we will surprise a lot of people.Â We press and run-and-gun the whole game, so with 7 guys it is tough but we have 2-a-days practice 5 days a week so I am in shape to play the 38 out of 40 minutes I have been playing in preseason games.Â
It is totally different with the culture here.Â The locker room, practices, language, it is all different. But then again basketball is basketball when it comes down to it.Â I have learned so much Italian that in practice when Coach talks to us I almost understand him completely.Â There are only 3 guys on the team that speak any English and only the coaches and maybe one guy in the whole club/organization speaks any, so it is tough at times.Â
The living is good.Â I have Internet and a 2-bedroom house all furnished and a nice car.Â The best part is I have a SKY dish network that has 600 English channels so I can watch ESPN, my Browns and all my CSI shows every night.Â It is great and passes time.Â However, I get lonely by myself because even the other American and all the other guys on the team are either married or have girlfriends and family.Â So there are many nights that I think of my family and wish I could see them, but I am here to play and so I am fine with it.Â
The food here is unreal.Â I will not want to eat when I go back to the states.Â The pasta, meat, fruit everything is so much better.Â When you eat out here you eat for a good 1.5-2 hours.Â They start with the bread, then when everyone is done they bring out pasta or rice, then when everyone’s done they bring out ham or some kind of meat with potatoes or green beans.Â Then after everyone is done there is dessert, then coffee, then when everyone is done you’re done.Â There is so much food and you sit there forever, but the food is great so I don’t care.Â
Our first game is Sunday, Oct. 7th so I cannot wait. I have been here a month-and-a-half andÂ it seems like I have been here forever but at the same time it seems like it is going by so fast.Â
Â To follow Gansey online, follow these directions.
1) Go here.
2) In the blan for “Translate a Web page”Â enter this address: http://www.fabrianobasket.it/public/index.cfm
3) In the box for “Select fron and to languages” select Italian to English.
4) Click translate.