Mike Groselle thought he had escaped the high school nickname.
CHART TOPPERMike Groselle in The Citadel record book:Category Place Total Avg.Points 10th 1,305 12.8Rebounds 2nd 715 7.0FG Percent 1st 528-894 .590Double-doubles 1st 26 N/AThe Citadel’s Mike Groselle is one of 10 finalists for the Senior Class Award. You can vote here: http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/DI_mens_basketball_2012-13/
Back at Plano West High School just outside of Dallas, the seniors on the basketball team noticed a resemblance between the blond-haired, pink-cheeked Groselle and a certain well-known baby.
“They called me Gerber Baby,” Groselle said with a rueful chuckle.
When the 6-8, 244-pound center was recruited to play basketball at The Citadel, some 1,000 miles from Plano, he thought he’d heard the last of the moniker. “It had no connection to the people here,” he said.
“They didn’t know anything about it.”
But one day during his freshman year, a commercial came on TV. Teammate John Reynolds took a look at the ad, then a look at Groselle.
“Gerber Baby” lived again.
“I’ve learned to live with it,” said Groselle, whose Twitter handle is @gbaby_31. “Perception is reality.”
It’s ironic, then, that Groselle — a senior who will play his final home game tonight against Furman at McAlister Field House — has spent his Citadel career proving that perception is not reality.
It’s easy to watch Groselle play and see his limitations. He can’t run real fast, doesn’t jump very high and can’t shoot much outside of about 10 feet.
And yet he stands atop Citadel career charts in field-goal percentage (59 percent) and double-doubles (26); second in rebounds (715, 7.0 career average) and 10th in scoring (1,305 points, 12.8 average).
“I enjoy watching Mike Groselle play,” said former Maryland great Len Elmore, whose son Stephen also plays his final home game for the Bulldogs tonight. “He’s kind of old-school, a throwback type of player.”
Davidson coach Bob McKillop said Groselle would “fit in very well with the players you see on those old newsreels on ESPN from the 1950s and 1960s.”
“He uses his IQ so well,” McKillop said. “He sees the game so very well and plays the angles. And for a guy who doesn’t jump well, he has an uncanny knack for deflections and blocked shots and preventing second shots.”
Groselle, averaging 15.3 points and 7.6 rebounds this season, honed his style in “brutal” driveway games against younger brother Geoffrey Groselle, a 7-0, 250-pound redshirt freshman at Creighton.
“It’s about producing,” said Groselle, an honors student majoring in engineering who plans to pursue pro ball. “I remember a guy back home once wrote about me, ‘This guy will never play Division III basketball, much less start at a Division I school.’
“I just look at it like, you do what you have to do. That’s just the way I play.”
Despite all of his production, Groselle has been unable to help The Citadel win. The Bulldogs won 20 games during the year he was recruited, and went 16-16 during his injury-plagued freshman year. They’ve lost 22, 24 and 20 games the last three years.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “It keeps me up at night. You never accept losing, and I never will. But our attitude is to work every day to win these games.”
Said coach Chuck Driesell, “That’s just Mike’s journey. He chose a place where it was going to be a challenge. But he will have the peace of mind that he did everything he could do to help build a winning program.
“I hope he’s proud of his body of work, of the effort he gave every night. I know he can lay down his head at night and know he gave his very best.”