Jeff Eisenberg

Omar Samhan's mom knew Saint Mary's was Sweet 16-bound

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Omar Samhan's mother probably wasn't the only Saint Mary's fan who had faith that the Gaels could reach the Sweet 16.

It's possible, though, that she may have been the only one confident enough to purchase a flight to Houston for the South Regional without waiting to see if her son's team would get there first.

After Saint Mary's learned on Selection Sunday that it would open the NCAA tournament against Richmond in Providence, Marianne Black-Samhan asked her son how important it was to him that she fly cross-country for the first and second round. Samhan told her it wasn't essential, so she said she'd book a flight to Houston and see him in the Sweet 16 instead.

"I've watched a lot of Omar's games and usually I have no clue who's going to win, but this time for some reason, I just felt it," Black-Samhan said by phone on Wednesday. "I never thought they were not going to win. Even when I was watching the games and we were down to the last few minutes and everyone around me was screaming, I felt a little uneasy, but something in my heart told me that they were going to win."

Even Samhan was incredulous when his mom told him she already booked the flight, but his performance the first two rounds is the biggest reason why she hasn't needed to worry about a refund on that ticket. The 6-foot-11 senior scored a combined 61 points in upset victories over seventh-seeded Richmond and second-seeded Villanova, leading the Gaels to their first-ever Sweet 16 bid.

As the irreverent Samhan has reveled in his newfound fame by entertaining reporters at news conferences and posting YouTube clips to his blog, some of the trickle down media attention has found its way to his mother. The obvious question is whether Black-Samhan has already purchased plane tickets to Indianapolis to see her son in the Final Four, but she's playing coy on that one for now.

"I have to see him in person, listen to his voice and look him in the eyes to answer that," she said. "Then I'll see if I get that same feeling."

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