Thursday, January 1, 2009

Kutztown: A look ahead, a look back

* The Knights (8-0) and Kutztown (9-0) have cruised through the 2008 portion of their schedules. Two tall guards, 6-foot-5 Stephen Dennis (23.1 ppg) and 6-foot-4 Dave Ben (20.9 ppg), are Kutztown's big guns. They were both selected first-team all-PSAC East a year ago.

I'm most interested in seeing if Dennis and Ben are able to catch the ball in scoring position or create their own shots. Gannon's Joe Lindsey, George Johnson, and Pierre Howard (plus Cory Knight off the bench) harassed Shippensburg's guards and had them on their heels for most of the Porreco Cup finale. If the Knight guards repeat that peformance Saturday, expect Dennis and Ben to become frustrated and force shots as the game wears on.

I'm a self-proclaimed GLIAC-maniac, and figured I'd have to slowly grow my enthusiasm for the new PSAC rivalries, especially against the PSAC East clubs. But I'm really fired up for the Gannon/Kutztown game. Win or lose, the Knights' performance will send a message throughout the league.

* Here are my three favorite Gannon/Kutztown memories. (I'm probably the only person who actually HAS three Gannon/Kutztown memories ...).

1. 1988: @ Gannon 84, Kutztown 64
Kutztown invaded the Hammermill Center for the NCAA East Regional led by 6-foot-11 Villanova transfer Marty Eggleston. The club also featured talented guard Butch Hills and coach Rick Binder. (Binder would later join the coaching staff at Gannon and then be the head man at East High.) The Knights, who eventually advanced to the DII Elite Eight, ran circles around Eggleston and advanced in front a boisterous crowd.

2. 1989: @ Gannon 80, Kutztown 59
This was my freshman year at Gannon and one of the first games I ever played. I remembered the previous KU team and expected more of the same. They still had Hills, who scored over 1,500 points in his college career, but didn't have much else. We were beating them so easily that I actually played a couple minutes. When I checked into the game, we scrambled to get our matchups -- and I had Hills. I was petrified (I hope I didn't look it) and was thrilled that he passed the ball both times he touched it.

3. 1992: Gannon 71, @ Kutztown 54
I have almost no memory of the actual game, but I recall halftime very well. We were tied with a supbar Kutztown team and coach Binder wasn't happy we were giving his old school a chance at beating us. Binder was a laid back guy, a happy-go-lucky players' kind of coach. But he gave us a tongue-lashing like none I've ever seen before. He didn't let us even sit down before he slammed a locker and called us every name in the book. As the final score indicates, his tactic worked.

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