Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's only November

If you're an optimistic Gannon fan, that headline is good news. If you're a pessimist, you're wondering when the next Otters game is. Whatever your mindset, it would be wise for us Gannon fans to listen to the advice of legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. Here's what he said recently to new Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner, whose program is in a similar spot as John Reilly's: "[Coach Wooden] told me the best advice he had was to be patient. The peaks and valleys will happen, but keep patient, keep an even keel, don't get too high on the highs and too low on the lows."

That being said, last night's game was a significant valley, one Gannon fans will never forget. Heck, GU fans are still smarting from the night in 1995 when when Geneva College, led by McDowell product Lucas Marsh and soon-to-be-Knights Jerry Slocum and Troy Nesmith trashed Gannon, 88-68. That was only a 20-point home loss, and Geneva was a respectable program! Last night was a 50% larger deficit and Urbana is a crummy 11-44 over the last two seasons.

Things can, and will, only get better from here. Gannon shot a measly 28% from the field last night while Urbana was twice as accurate, hitting 56% of their shots. The question we're left to wonder is how much better is it going to get? If that's the lineup Gannon's going to use for the remainder of the season, it's not going to get much better. Here's hoping that James Bryant (who supposedly becomes eligible after the current semester) and Danard Crouch (who missed last night's game) provide offensive spark to the backcourt.

That will allow the big men to operate inside effectively. Last year, Goldcamp & Company could feel the double-team and kick out to Lindsey, Howard, Knight, Stoczynski or Johnson to knock down a three. I know DI transfer Isaac Reid was only 2-for-11 from the field last night, but he was frequently working against 2 or 3 defenders. Who was he going to pass out to? The only consistent three-point threat who played last night was Johnson, who was guarded closely all evening.

Important note for all Gannon Hoops commenters: We had it easy last year with the Knights going 30-4. This year is obviously going to be a bigger struggle. Let's not harshly call out names when pointing to Gannon's flaws. A Gannon Hoops commenter last night described one of the freshmen as "horrible." That's uncalled for. Remember two things before you click "Post Comment": They're still just kids, and they're all better basketball players than us.


  1. Yes it is only November, but what worried me about last night's performance was that there were barely any legitimate bright spots. It was not like you can say "Player X might have struggled with his defense, but he seems to have a nice hook shot" or "Player Y had a weak shot but played strong post defense."
    None of the guys really showed any flashes of skill in any particular area. The three JUCO guys who played looked simply terrified out there. I thought JUCO players are supposed to be like one of those "shovel-ready" government projects: able to hit the ground running and keep the team performing decent. I'm not disparaging them and will give them a shot to pull it together, but I would have thought that they would have been ready to play at a much higher level than what we saw in that debacle last night. They simply looked like freshman still finding their way to the gym.
    I guess I shouldnt have expected too much when I saw the starting lineup come out. I almost choked on my gum seeing who was starting.
    George Johnson showed that he was pressing and trying to carry the load too much, and nearly lost his cool in the process too.
    Why didn't Filmore Bouldes play? What would there have been to lose?
    The only bright spots I can find was that Preston Harris showed some aggressiveness, and Piotrowicz showed competency at ball handling and intense defense, ala Cory Knight. Hopefully he can find a shooting stroke.
    I didn't expect a ton out of this season, my prediction was 16-18 wins. But last night was arguably the worst game I ever witnessed as a Gannon fan, which is 25 years worth of games. Anyone remember any worse games?

  2. I did not say the player was horrible. I said he couldn't seem to handle any passes, even the ones thrown right to his hands. I said that was horrible (the fact that he bobbled some good passes).

    Also looking at what Urbana has done thus far, they appear to be a decent team. They've already handled glenville state and, I don't know how many wins they had last year, but I'm guessing they're almost halfway to their win total.

    Moving on... Why didn't crouch or sanders play? Anyone know? I thought crouch was supposed to be the 1 guard until the military kid got here and sanders was supposed to be a "dominant force" inside.

    I will agree with SMS though... The juco kids looked real nervous. I know it's the first game, but Howard, lindsey, goldcamp, Wilson, didn't look like that their first game of action. My guess is these new ones aren't used to having to play the intense defense that Coach Reilly runs. Even in the newspaper they Reid quoted as saying he felt like he was at a pro practice and he's never
    moved his feet that much on defense before. And he played D1??

    I'm not saying any one person, players or coaches, were to blame for last night. It was a total team effort!! But I will say that none of them looked like a D2 team at any point. But, as I said on the other post, we've been through this before and it led us to last year. So I have total faith in Coach Reilly, his philosophy, and his players. It may not be this year (who knows though? They could come out of nowhere to turn it around, anything is possible), but some point Gannon will get to where they were last year and sooner than later. Coach Reilly has a knack for winning gamea and the team will catch on to it eventually.


  3. Guys, I couldn't agree with Jim more: these players are just KIDS! Support them! Give 'solid' freeback to the blog! Don't be foolish with your comments! No matter how 'right' you are.

    This has been a GREAT blog over the past year but don't let it become an negative outlet for frustrated fans. Gannon is an Erie school, not a Philly school.

    One last thought: make sure you could explain your comments to your kids without having to go to confession at St. Peter's afterward.

    Best of luck coach and go knights!

  4. I will apologize for being extremely
    negative, especially with naming names. But with all do respect to everyone, I don't see how you can say anything positive about the first game... The positive things would be: Johnson looked good for most of the game, Harris looked fairly seasoned for his first start and real playing time, and scandretts dunk (and the pass) was awesome! That's it for the game. For the season, I'll agree we can only go up (I'll also have to agree with Jim however that given the players we saw how far is up is very questionable).

    Now here's my only problem with everyor shielding them with the "they're kids" comments. Yes, they're kids. I don't really consider the 20+ olds kids, but regardless they're young. However, this is college... DIVISION 2!! Most of these
    players are on scholarship, meaning the school is practically financially assisting them to be there. This isn't high school where a frosh starting Varsity has 4 years to improve. Gannons freshmen do have years to
    improve, BUT they only have 2? 3? The rest is almost all juniors. Meaning they have this year and next and that's it. So if they were to do poorly this year and next, then what positive things are there to say about the 2011 graduating seniors?? "well they improved from last season to this season.". Yes, they may. But that means Gannon is starting the process all over again the next year with few players left to build on.

    Now again I am not trying to say that Coach Reillys recruits are bad or anything like that. You see their previous stats and you know they're here
    for a reason. But to look the way they did in that game, they have ALOT of work to do. Transfers, especially JUCO players are expected to come in and produce
    immediately, if they are looked upon to do so. Look at last years class. Do not
    compare them to last year, but look at last years class in their first year at Gannon. You had a seasoned sophomore, a hometown junior, 2 JUCOs and a junior transfer; only one of them had started or played the year before. They performed immediately; first game. That is what is expected of transfers. Not what happened last night.

    I'm sorry to be negative, but I am realistic and truthful. Yes we need to stay positive and the coaches need to work with the players and encourage them. But they cannot be given sugarcoated messages all the time as well. It's only one game, but what if we get to game 13 with equal results? "it's" not "just one game".

  5. GU Booster: I am all about being as positive as possible. However, analyzing the weaknesses of the team is not being foolish, its not attacking the players, its being realistic. What good do "atta-boys" do when the team loses by 30?

    The fact of the matter is that Saturday night was simply a terrible game, and the players admitted so themselves. The Knights simply did not look ready as a team or on an individual basis to take the floor for a regular season game. My fear is that the learning curve is going to be too steep for those guys to pick it up until a long way into the season. Of course, I absolutely hope that they get it together sooner and will be there every game to support the Knights.

  6. My recall goes back to the '64-'65 time frame, and, though I agree that last night was hard to watch, there have been plenty of bad nights like Saturday.

    Just off the top of my head (without pulling out a media guide, that is), I remember some awful nights at the end of the Dukiet era, in Reilly's second year, back in the early 70's under Dave Markey, even Chapman's first year had a couple clunkers, and there have been some blowouts at the Audi in the playoffs, as well (NY Tech crushed us once under Fox, and the infamous Textile blowout in '84 come to mind), and for me, losing like that in the playoffs is a lot worse.

    Again, you have to look at the composition of the team. Reilly had to bring in 10 new kids. Even 2 years ago, he had more kids returning, and only brought in 6, and ALL of them worked out (which isn't always the case with JUCO players).

    Of the 11 players who dressed Saturday, only 5 were on the team last year. One of the 5 was a starter (who appeared to me to be having some kind of physical problem-vision?- last night), one of the 5 was a part-time backup last year, one was a benchwarmer, and 2 were walk-ons. That's it. I'd also bet that very few, if any, of the new players had played very much in that size arena in front of that many people.

    There are at least 3 kids who are hurt and 2 with undisclosed problems that they were counting on to contribute. 3 of those are post players. These are all factors that are very difficult to overcome-it's rare for any team to have that kind of depth, never mind a team with so few players with experience in the program. Throw in an opponent who looked to be considerably stronger than expected and shot the lights out (not only from in close), and you have the recipe for possible disaster. Almost like a basketball perfect storm. Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, it went as badly as it could have. They could continue to struggle, we'll see. Highly regarded Northern Kentucky is on the horizon. However, any true Gannon fan isn't a bandwagon jumper, and the team deserves the same support in bad times that they got in the good times. Anything less would be pretty lame.

  7. SMS: thank you for having somewhat of the same point of view that I was trying to point out. Negative is not always a bad thing, sometimes it is needed to light a fire. And were not saying they won't improve, were saying that if that lineup ends up being the norm then an improvement will be hard to come by. However should injured players come back healthy and produce and some of the newbies turn around, this could end up a salvaged season. Thank you, SMS, for being realistic!!

    Gannon74: noone is bandwagoning. It's not like any of us are going to start cheering for boro or hurst just because Gannon is struggling. I went to every home game during the first two Coach Reilly years when the team was a huge struggle. Whether it was a 20+ blowout or a last minute victory I cheered win or lose. I actually misses more home games the past 2 seasons then I ever have due to work and such haha that was not fun!!! Anyways... I will be at every game I can make this season and whether they win or lose I'll cheer for them. But win or lose I'll always have am opinion. Sometimes I may have a positive opinion after a loss or a negative opinion after a win. I just try to be realistic. I hate sugar coated messages that are not needed. I tell it how it is.

    Now this is my view on jucos and transfers. If you bring in a bunch of jucos and a frosh ends up starting over them, then that's not saying much for the jucos. Not saying bad recruiting, but juco could have bad attitude, poor work ethic, not in shape yet, etc. However I view it just like we view our high school players. I coach at the high school level and our view is if you have a senior that you feel should be on the JV team, cut them because they aren't going to play JV and won't do anything for your varsity team. So I understand that not all jucos and transfers are going to turn into a Howard, Lindsey or goldcamp... But if they don't end up being better than a frosh, are they truly worth keeping? Maybe they play better off bench, possibility. Maybe they are veteran leaders, could be. I'd they're not though, they're not helping at all. Well find out mid-January I'd these players are going to cut it. I'm hoping they do because they all seem to be a good group of guys. Plus Coach Reilly is a great guy and I hate
    to see his team lose any game!!! Like I said before, as soon as these players buy into Coach Reillys system... They'll be winners just like Coach Reilly.

    And on the topic of bad memories... How about any time we played Findlay back in the day and most gliac playoff games under slocum. Some of those were hard to take in days after!!!

  8. Coach Corey: I'm with you and glad that you see my view too. You do have a very valid point in that these are not high school players anymore and they are getting their education, food, housing, apparel, etc paid for. They are open to a little more critiquing than a high school kid.

    Its important to distinguish critiquing something and criticizing. Pointing out the flaws and weaknesses doesn't equal negatively criticzing. How can one have a real substantive discussion on the team if bringing up the weaknesses is out of bounds?

    I also think you made a good point (CoachCorey) in stating that we arent saying the team is doomed. Coach Reilly is a good guy and will work extremely hard to get the team on the right track. Its just that after Saturday's game, it is tough to envision exactly how that will be accomplished before its too late into the season.
    I would love to debate what anyone found to be bright spots. Does anybody have any?

  9. SMS: Agree with you that some of the JUCOs looked terrified/lost. I can't recall too many JUCOs in recent Gannon history lighting it up their first semester in uniform. Instead of just playing, they end up overthinking which screws up their entire game.

    As far as worst games in Gannon history, I'm glad I was one of very few Knight faithful to witness GU's 90-64 thrashing at Pace. It got so bad they actually put me into the game. I recall sitting in the hallway waiting for my teammates to get dressed so we could get onto the bus. Coach Reilly came out and, both of us knowing Gannon history, said that was the worst Gannon game we ever witnessed. I was depressed the whole 8-hour bus ride home.

    Corey: No idea why Crouch and Sanders didn't play.

    As I said above, I don't recall any JUCOs lighting it up their first few games. Wilson was shaky for sure, and Lindsey (nursing an injury) took several games to get going. I remember when he first played saying, "Geez, I thought this kid was supposed to be special."

    GU Booster: Agree with you. Cory Knight's grandmother was (maybe still is) a reader of this blog. We should think of her when offering our criticism. Not that I'm not saying, "Please withhold your criticism." I'm just asking that everyone be tactful.

  10. Here's hoping that, come January, we look upon the Urbana debacle as just a strange beginning to a good season.

    Here's hoping that, come January, Dan Teliski isn't looking up the school record for largest drop in wins from one season to another.

    On the LeCorchick / Hughes show today, they said that the Gannon will finish the Gary Miller Classic "with one win and one loss at best." Yeesh ... When was the last time we went to the Miller Classic hoping for a split. I guess that a split is better than a "splat."

    Happy Thanksgiving! We do have a lot to be thankful for, with the outstanding last two seasons. That, plus we have the ability to go to basketball games with our friends in our hometown. And if one of the biggest worries in our lives is that Gannon could have a bad basketball team this year, then we're pretty fortunate.

  11. SMS: thank you for the support.

    Jim: you are correct. Goldcamp, Howard, al-khas, nesmith, truskaukas are some of the few transfers to have a solid first year, let alone first half of season. I think after having transfers such as Howard and goldcamp and frosh like morgan and husted we all just got used to expecting the same.

    Golden: TOTALLY AGREED!! I hope that everyone that is on this blog... The worst thing they have to worry about is Gannon turning their season around!!! I am thankful that, regardless of performance, Gannon recruits "good kids" for the most part. I am glad we do not have the rep for troublemakers on the team. I am thankful we have a coach such as Coach Reilly, and his staff, that are patient enough and smart enough to teach these players how to play the game the way it is meant to be played and how to be winners, on and off the court. I am also thankful for the education I received at Gannon and the wonderful people I met along the journey. And last but not least I am thankful for Jim for making this blog a possibility and allowing us to post our feedback, even if we are a little strong or negative at times. Or even if we are just flat out venting haha :).

    To Coach Reilly and family, Jim and family, the Gannon coaching staff and families, the Gannon players and families and everyone who reads this blog: HAVE A HAPPY, WONDERFUL AND SAFE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY!! :)

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  13. According to a taped interview with Coach Reilly tonight on 1330, Jerrell Sanders is no longer with the team. No specifics were given, just that the decision was made today.

  14. WoW! Sanders was his first 2009-2010 recruit and was highly touted and decorated coming into this season! That's definitely not what I wanted to hear after Saturday's game.

    Wonder could it have anything to do with that Bryant coming next semester? Like, to make room for him or such? Gannon does have, what? 17, 18 players already? I don't know what the "max" is but I'm sure they're close.

    Tough. :(

  15. I too listened to the after game intrvw. I seem to pick up that there might have been some discipline problems and that is why some players didn't dress, (JD?) If this is true. I have to 1st applaud the coach for being the coach and if it cost us that game so be it. We'll be a lot better off down the stretch.

  16. GUFanman: I am in 100% agreement with you. I'd rather lose games
    with a good group of kids than have a bad group of
    kids playing who are going to give anyone associated with Gannon a bad rep!!

    to all: Have a Happy and safe Holiday!! :)