At the 16-minute mark of the Kutztown/Gannon game today, the pieces were in place for the Knights to drop their first game of the season. All-American center Kyle Goldcamp was on the bench with an illness. Next to him were two fellow starters with foul trouble. Kutztown led on the scoreboard and, more surprisingly, on the boards. Gannon's offense lacked rhythm. The crowd was testy after a slew of offensive fouls called against the Knights. Duane Rankin was covering the game for the Erie Times. It was bad news all around for the locals.
Then how in the world did the Knights proceed from those depths and manhandle the Golden Bears 63-31 over the game's final 24 minutes? As a result, Gannon moved to 9-0 on the year and throttled Kutztown from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Plan and simple, Coach John Reilly and his staff outcoached their opponents. If you attended the game, you could see the talent levels were fairly even, especially with Goldcamp out. If you had to give the edge to one team, you might have selected Kutztown and their two super-smooth, high-scoring all-PSAC East guards.
Gannon's offensive gameplan was to push the ball when they had the chance and break down the defense in the half-court game by moving the ball from side to side. On defense, the Knights played half-court man every possession, pressuring the ball and clogging the driving lanes to prevent layups.
On offense, Kutztown's players dribbled too much, usually looking to beat their man off the dribble to create shots for themselves. This tactic played right into the strength of Gannon's ball-hawking man defense.
On defense, KU vascillated from half-court man to a 2-3 zone to a full-court zone press. Each time they ran the press, the Knights got easy layups. In the half-court game, the Knights had several wide-open jumpers which contributed to shooting 53% from the field for the game.
Kutztown might have had the players. But Gannon clearly had the team. I'm tempted to apply for the Gannon A.D. job just so I can immediately sign Coach Reilly to a lucrative lifetime contract to keep him on the Hammermill Center sidelines forever.