Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sweet(er) Success

“A person’s success is not to be measured so much by the position he has reached in life. Instead, success is measured by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”

That's one of my favorite quotes, and it's especially applicable to at least three members of the Gannon basketball program. Think about where Tyler Stoczynski, Cory Knight, and coach John Reilly were just a few years ago -- when a league championship and top seed in the Division II national tournament were someone else's achievable dream.

Both Stosh and Cory had stellar scholastic careers, but something went wrong at their first college choices. Tyler left UMass-Lowell after less than one year while Cory bolted Pfeiffer (N.C.) after just one season. When they made the move to Gannon, both probably had their doubts if this school was going to work out. Their first year in a Golden Knight uniform produced a painful 9-17 campaign, the fewest wins and most losses in school history since, well, before each player was born. They were getting more playing time, but they had to be questioning their abilities to be good players for a winning Division II team.

Reilly was probably having the same doubts if he made the right move back to Gannon from Brescia (Ky.). Not only were his new GU teams losing, his program had more turnover than Sontheimer's Bakery. Plus, the Hammermill Center crowds weren't the near-3,000 he recalled when he was an assistant at Gannon; at times they were just one quarter the size of the glory days attendance.

And if Reilly wasn't doubting his abilities to coach on the Division II level, several Gannon fans certainly were. Before last season the question I fielded most often wasn't, "How will Gannon be this year?" It was, "Do you think your coach is going to make it another season?" Those same folks are now asking questions like, "Isn't this exciting?" and "Do you think they can go to the Final Four?"

I'm sure that Pierre Howard, Joe Lindsey, Kyle Goldcamp and the rest of the Knights are enjoying this highly successful 27-3 season and the PSAC tournament championship. But it has to be even sweeter for Stoczynski, Knight, and Reilly because of the obstacles they've overcome along the way.

  • The D-II field of 64 will be announced tonight at 9 -- you can watch it live at -- but let's take a stab now at how the Atlantic's matchups will look. #1 Gannon vs. #8 UPJ is a certainty. I would also predict #2 Va. Union vs. #7 Slippery Rock, #3 Kutztown vs. #6 West Va. State, and #4 JC Smith vs. #5 Alderson-Broaddus.
  • UPJ, the #4 seed in the WVIAC and nowhere on the radar in the regional rankings, shocked Alderson-Broaddus in the double-OT finals yesterday. That's bad news for IUP, Slippery Rock, and Elizabeth City State, whose NCAA tournament hopes were on life support already.

You can flip a three-way coin (do they make those?) to determine which of those teams should get the #7 spot:

  • Elizabeth City State (20-7 in the region) -- key wins vs. JC Smith (back in Nov.) and Va. Union (to end the regular season); key losses to Chowan, St. Paul's, Bowie State, and Va. State (twice, including in the CIAA quarterfinals).
  • IUP (19-6) -- key win vs. Slippery Rock; key losses to Slippery Rock (twice, including the in PSAC quarterfinals)
  • Slippery Rock (17-8) -- key wins vs. IUP (twice), Gannon; key losses to Shippensburg, Millersville, and IUP.


  1. One more milestone ...

    I do believe that the 51 combined wins for two teams (men 27, women 24) is the most in school history, breaking the record of 1987-88 (men 24, women 26).

    But I hope that we don't just break the record. Hopefully we can shatter the record with more wins this month!

  2. question... im watching the womens selection show.. what is this "travel contingency program"? In a few of the regions, the #1 seed is not hosting and the #2 seed is hosting and it says "** host institutions travel contingency program". What does this mean and why does the #1 seed NOT host? Do they have the same situation that KU would've had (something else going on at same time)? Or is this a NCAA thing?

    Also, totally forgot that UPJ would automatically made it because they won the Championship haha After I typed that I was like "Wait, they automatically make it even if they're 20th in the region" haha sorry!

  3. Well, I was close. The field is as stated above except IUP is the #7 seed, not SRU.

    #1 GU vs. #8 UPJ
    #4 JC Smith vs. #5 A-B

    #3 KU vs. #6 WV St.
    #2 Va. Union vs. #7 IUP

  4. I can't believe IUP beat out Slippery Rock for #7. Slippery Rock beat them twice AND once in the Tourney. That just befuddles me.

  5. AJJ -- The "travel contingency program" is only for the men's west region. It was implemented early last month when BYU-Hawaii looked like a sure bet in the West region and the committee said, "Whoa ... we aren't paying to fly seven teams to Hawaii. We have a 10-figure contract with CBS, but this is a recession, people."

    So they devised this plan: If the entire region has to fly to the host site (if they are located over about 250 or so miles, then they can fly), the region will be broken into two "pods." In this case, the 1,8,4,5 seeds will go to BYU-Hawaii and the 2,7,3,6 go to Western Washington. Games are Friday and Saturday. The pod winners meet on Tuesday at the higher seed.

    And I can't believe that IUP beat out The Rock, either. As much as I dislike them, they got screwed. SRU finished ahead of them in the PSAC-W and beat them two out of three. That said, I'm glad they're not coming. IUP is a better matchup for Gannon than SRU, if the teams wound up meeting. IUP gave Gannon their best shot on Feb 21 and still came up short.

    Who was the biggest beneficiary of Gannon's leaving the Midwest region? Grand Valley State. They received at-large bids at the eighth seed for both the men and the women.

    I'll let Jim give more details on the Chris Commons "partner in crime" line. That was absolutely hysterical!!!

  6. What are you talking about Chris Commons "partner in crime" line? Where was that at?

  7. and thanks for the info on the "make more money off of less travel" program.


    A few more details on Mr. Commons in the above link. Apparently, he was playing (or at least was going to play) for Findlay when he was convicted of armed robbery and spent time in jail. Rumor has it that Gannon considered picking him up, but he eventually went to SC-Aiken where he had a great career and as the article above alludes, it looks like he has thankfully turned his life around.

    Anyhow, in this evening's D-II webcast, the announcer mentioned Chris Commons with announcing SC-Aiken's bid. Then in the next sentence he referred Commons' teammate as his "partner in crime."

    No idea whether the crack was intentional. The poor announcer may have just been reading material he was handed and it could be some wise-guy writer, or it could be an innocent coincidence. Whatever it was, it sure was ironic. I bet that it had to have ticked off Aiken fans and players watching.

  9. hahahahaha okay, yes that is hilarious now! :)

  10. has Division 2 bracket contests. Here's the link if you or your readers want to try and finish second behind me -