After finishing the regular season one game behind college basketball power Gonzaga for the West Coast conference title, the St. Mary's College Gaels managed to defeat the Bulldogs in the league's championship game to punch their ticket to the "Big Dance," also known as the extremely popular NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Arab American Omar Samhan, L, star center for the St. Mary's College Gaels, lead his team to victory against the Gonzaga Bulldogs to capture the West Coast conference championship March 8.
Samhan, who averages 20.9 points and 11 rebounds a game and is of Egyptian descent, led the Gaels to an 81-62 win in the title game, causing pandemonium on campus.
"I've been here for four years now and we've won a lot of games but I've never seen the campus like this," Samhan said about the scene this week following the March 8 title game win.
"You would have thought we had won the national championship with the way the fans have been."
Samhan has played so well that NBA scouts have attended multiple games this season, but his main focus is on leading his team to more wins in the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week with full slates of games on Thursday and Friday.
Last year, Samhan and his teammates watched the tournament selection show with apprehension over whether or not they'd be picked and ended up being disappointed.
But this Sunday, he'll be able to watch knowing his team's spot is already secure, which should mean less butterflies in his stomach as the Gaels are expected to get a seed in the 7 through 10 range.
"It won't be as exciting as last year, but it'll be a lot more relaxing probably," he said. "We know that they're going to call St. Mary's at some point."