St. Mary's is ready to face Sweet 16

March 25, 2010 7:24:17 PM PDT
St. Mary's hopes to continue their stunning NCAA tournament success on Friday in Houston, where the No. 10th Gaels face the No. 3 seeded Baylor in the Sweet 16.

Win or lose, this has been a life-changing experience, especially for Omar Samhan.

The beast has been unleashed ? "Omar mania" is well underway. That is what happens when you average over 30 points in two NCAA tournament upsets.

Samhan has gone from relative obscurity to center of attention. He is the best big man in the tournament with NBA scouts watching every move, but Omar understands his 15 minutes of fame can end abruptly.

"When it's time to play, you better bring it because if you don't, they revert back to this, 'Well, he was having too much fun, he wasn't focused.' So, it's a fine line. If you talk like this, you better come ready to play," says Samhan.

"He's in the spotlight a lot, and he's kind of accepted the challenge, so we're definitely right there behind him," says St. Mary's junior Mickey McConnell.

"It's kind of fun to watch. If he gets too close to crossing that line, I'm reel him in, but he's been okay so far," says St. Mary's head coach Randy Bennett.

Some athletes listen to rap music before games, others like hard rock. Omar says his inspiration is Taylor Swift.

"I'm a huge Taylor Swift fan. I listen to her before games. Taylor, I feel like she's singing to me sometimes. I love her, and I'm going to keep listening to her," says Omar.


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