Bergan's latest ride hits heights

March 08, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The championship game of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament was just like Tracy Bergan's career at Loyola -- a roller coaster ride.

Bergan's stay at Loyola appeared over in April 1992, when personal problems led him to withdraw from the school. On two other occasions, most recently at the end of the fall semester, academic shortcomings caused him to miss games. Last night, his team looked finished when it fell 16 points behind Manhattan in the first half.

But Bergan got back into school, and now the Greyhounds are going to their first NCAA Division I tournament. The tournament MVP, he fouled out with 1:21 to play, and squirmed through the rest of the game, writhing on the floor and then sprinting to grab a rim and hang for happiness after the win was secured by his younger teammates.

When Bergan was sitting in Reitz Arena last winter, watching his friends trudge through a 2-25 season, did he think he would ever play in an NCAA tournament?

"I dreamed about it, sure," Bergan said. "Look, Iwasn't there, and neither was Michael [Reese]. You get us in there with B.J. Pendleton, a new coach and some good freshman, and there was no reason not to believe we couldn't do this. It's just so nice to be able to say I was around to help Coach Prosser get a tradition started.

"You watch, this program is going to do some big things under him."

Bergan and Reese, fifth-year seniors whose absence in 1992-93 and subsequent return was a huge ingredient in Loyola's going from worst to first in the MAAC, earned spots on the all-tournament team. They were joined by Manhattan's Brenton Birmingham and Jamal Marshall, Siena's Doremus Bennerman and Canisius' Craig Wise.

* David Credle, Loyola's junior center, came through with another solid game, leaning on the 6-foot-10 Marshall and getting eight points on four of six shooting and five rebounds. A 4.9-per-game scorer in the regular season, he averaged 9.0 and made 13 of 19 shots in the tournament.

Credle, Bergan, Reese and B.J. Pendleton all grew up inside the Washington D.C. Beltway, and they wouldn't mind being sent to the USAir Arena for their NCAA assignment. All were recruited by Tom Schneider, who resigned in the middle of last season. He's now an assistant at SMU.

"Tom Schneider deserves some credit," coach Skip Prosser said.

* Dave Wojcik beat big brother Doug to an NCAA tournament berth as a coach after all.

Dave, Loyola's restricted-earnings coach, had several telephone conversations over the weekend with Doug, who's been an assistant at Navy ever since he guided David Robinson and company into the NCAAs in 1987. The Mids, whose turnaround is nearly as improbable as Loyola's, are host to the Patriot League title game Friday.

Both Wojciks played for Prosser at Wheeling (W. Va.) Central Catholic High.

* Going from 2-25 to 17-12 clinched the best turnaround in the nation for the Greyhounds. They had been tied with Texas-Pan American for that distinction. . . . Reese scored 64 points and had 34 rebounds in the three games. . . . The 14 points scored by freshman Milton Williams were the most since he had 19 at American in December. . . . The 17-12 record is Loyola's best in 13 Division I seasons.

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