Sunday, March 15, 2009

Survive and advance

Tom Chapman's goal during the NCAA tournament was simple to say but difficult to execute. Survive and advance. It doesn't matter if you cruise by 40 points or if you relinquish several double-digit leads and then have to rely on a broken play and an off-balance, double-clutch bank shot with 6 seconds left to secure the win. Just survive and advance.

Gannon has advanced to the Sweet 16, but it doesn't ring right to use the word "sweet" after a stressful 67-65 Atlantic Regional semifinal victory over the never-say-die Alderson-Broaddus Battlers. Never was a team's nickname more appropriate. Every time the Knights pushed their second-half lead to double digits, A-B would get a score and then get a stop. Seeing their exasperated fans still staring into the Hammermill Center rafters 10 minutes after the barnburner, you couldn't help but feel for them.

A couple Gannon fans said to me after the game they couldn't understand why the Knights didn't adjust to A-B's stifling 1-3-1 half court zone trap. It's not as easy as they make it look on the TV telestrator. (Trust me -- I was a color man for 9 years.) The media's words can't do justice to how difficult it is for Gannon to make the right adjustments. Let me try my best.

The adjustment Gannon would have to make is growing their guards a few inches. With 6-foot-4 Terrell Eargle at the point of the zone, Gannon's 5-foot-11 tandem of Joe Lindsey and Cory Knight couldn't throw over him to the middle of the floor (the free throw line) which is the 1-3-1's weakness. So, Gannon's ballhandlers were forced to the sideline and attempted to attack the zone's gaps. A-B's defensive wings were either trapping the ball or making the GU wings catch their entry pass 25 to 30 feet from the basket. That's too far away to shoot or throw a decent post-entry pass. The only Knights open were Kyle Goldcamp on the baseline or GU's opposite guard ... which required little Lindsey to attempt a pass over taller Terrell. That's where the Knights committed most of their turnovers tonight.

And because of the stellar defensive job Knight and Lindsey plus Pierre Howard were doing on all-WVIAC guards Eargle (only 9 points on 2-for-9 shooting), Stan Hall (12 points, 11 below his glossy 23.3 average), and Sam Liggins (2-of-8 shooting totalling 5 points, 13 below his average), John Reilly wasn't about to change his lineup. So Reilly (plus 2,500 of his closest friends in the Hammermill Center) held their breath and counted on the Gannon defense to hold off A-B just long enough to survive and advance.

I'm glad there's a day off between the semifinal and the championship game. I could use the rest.

Special thanks to my brother Rob for the "survive and advance" headline. He said that to me immediately after the game while my head was still throbbing/spinning from the frantic finish.


  1. I have one thing to say


  2. ok but in all seriousness :)

    Despite the fact that A-B battled back, Gannon played a tremendous game to advance to the 3rd round of the tourney. Many people are saying "Gannon blew a double-digit lead." I do not consider that the case at all as I agree with Jim that it's alot tougher to adjust than it looks on TV (I only played a few years of basketball but I know when teams switched up defense on us our coach would go nuts because we never matched up well... thus being the reason why the opposing coach did so haha)

    Congrats Gannon on setting the school-record for most wins in a season (maybe Women can accomplish that tomorrow night?! *fingers crossed)*, but let's not stop here... keep it coming.


  3. After watching the highlights on the news, Goldcamp's shot was much tougher than it looked the first time. He banked it in high off the glass!

    Also, much credit goes to A-B. Despite a thin bench, they played hard all throughout. They had a great game plan and executed it well. It almost worked. They played hard and with class and have nothing to be ashamed of.

    It reminds me of the time that Gannon played at top-seeded and secod-ranked Cal in the 1994 regional semifinal. GU was a heavy underdog, but James Clark's baseline jumper with about 15 seconds left gave Gannon a one-point lead. Then White (forgot his first name) made a runner off the board with Keith Danzy in his face with a couple of seconds to win it for Cal. Tough loss, but I was very proud to be a GU fan that evening. Hopefully the A-B folks will feel the same.

  4. If ever there were a moment where as a coach I'd slap a player upside the head, this moment would be it.

    Also - I'm kinda shocked Duane has suddenly done something to benefit the GU squad. Intentionally instigating locker room motivation - thankyouvermuch.

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  6. I was totally shocked that Duane Rankin had an article (actually 2) about college basketball. Article 1 was the one about Kutztown saying third time is a charm and ARticle 2 was the one about the Kutztown game recap vs IUP. Then I thought about it, these really had nothing to do with Gannon. Yes, he gave Gannon major credit for their accomplishments and acknowledged that they are tough defensively and the crowd is definitely the "6th man". But the whole article was really about what KU needs to do to beat Gannon. And the second article was all about Kutztown defeating IUP and how the "nobodys" stepped up since the other guards were nowhere to be found.

    So my overall evaluation of the article is...

    Rankin obviously thinks Stephen Dennis is going to the Bayhawks....

  7. I hate to defend him, but Duane's assignment was to cover Kutztown / IUP. He also covered A-B vs. J.C. Smith. Bob Jarzomski has been covering the two Gannon games.

    I think that he's in "charge" of the Kutztown angle and Jarzo is covering the "Gannon" angle. Jarzo has been assigned to the GU beat all year.

    Should be a great game tonight! I expect a pretty close one ...

  8. I concur, Golden89. My only point was that in covering the KU angle, he may have only helped the GU angle :) And I place that "may" there QUITE intentionally.


    Interesting article today in Reading's newspaper:
    * Stephen Dennis has bruised ribs. He did not practice yesterday
    * David Ben says, "I wish we were playing somewhere else. ...You feel like everybody is on top of you."

  10. The best article yet was Martin's article today about people whining that Gannon gets all the foul calls. The facts prove it, they don't get the calls as much as people think. I hope Manchel read the article.