Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hail Golden Bulls! Go Golden Knights!

The Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls gave the Gannon Golden Knights a golden opportunity yesterday. JC Smith, ranked #8 in the Atlantic Region, edged #2 Va. Union, 70-63, in last night's CIAA tournament championship game. So, if #1 Gannon wins the PSAC tournament, they will host the regionals at the Hammermill Center. Unless an opponent beats GU at the Audi over the next 6 games, the Knights are going to Springfield and the Elite 8.

I know a lot has to happen between now and then. Heck, I wouldn't be shocked if Gannon lost to dangerous Edinboro on Tuesday. But historically, home court advantage has meant everything to the Golden Knights in March. Tom Chapman is regarded as an ultrasuccessful coaching legend, but it wasn't because of his regular season wins over Adelphi and Southhampton. Chappy is held in high esteem for his postseason success, almost all of which came at the Audi.
  • Chapman was 14-9 all-time in the postseason, 12-4 at home and just 2-5 away from the Hammermill. His only postseason road W's were the 1987 Final Four comeback vs. Eastern Montana (thank you, David Morris) and in the 1989 MCC consolation game vs. Pace at Philly Textile (his final game coaching GU).
  • Bob Dukiet was 9-6 in the postseason, a perfect 7-0 at the Audi but just 2-6 away from GU. His only two road wins were both consolation games (which are no longer played).
  • Jerry Slocum got all sorts of grief from some Gannon fans for his lack of playoff success (5-15). But did you know he had more road playoff wins (3) than Chapman and Duke? Slocum was 2-0 at home, but just 3-15 away. Because of the GLIAC's neutral-location tournament, Slocum had few opportunities to play at Gannon in March.
  • John Reilly's only postseason action at Gannon game last year, when he went 2-2. The wins were at home vs. Ashland in the GLIAC first round and at Grand Valley vs. Drury in the NCAA opener. Both losses were away from Erie vs. Findlay.

Bottom line is that home court advantage is HUGE for the Knights. In fact they haven't lost in the postseason at Gannon since March 5, 1988, when LeMoyne's Lenny Rauch sent the MCC championship game into OT with a pair of last second free throws. Who would have thought the biggest home court loser in Gannon postseason history would be Chapman? (Insert your own Chapman "Biggest Loser" joke here.)

Before you start making plans to visit the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, know that this won't be easy. I saw parts of the JC Smith/Va. Union game and both teams are very good. And before you start thinking of those teams as possible opponents, know that both Kutztown (13 straight wins) and Slippery Rock (8 straight wins) are playing their best basketball of the season and have home playoff games of their own Tuesday. And before you even start thinking of them, worry about Edinboro Tuesday. Flashy Scot guard Larry Bryant missed the EU/GU Hammermill Center clash with an injury but he's back now, coming off the bench to score 11 points Saturday against Clarion.

Every win from here on out will be hard-fought and well-earned. And every postseason victory will transcend this season from very good to special.

1 comment:

  1. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=3941876

    Herb Magee passed Adolph Rupp for most career wins last night. Another good season or two would allow him to make it all the way to #1 in career wins in men's basketball.

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