After Gannon opened the season with shellackings by Urbana and Lake Erie (at home no less), did you think they'd form a winning streak any time soon? I remember fielding a variety of questions after the Lake Erie game that included the same theme: "Do you think Gannon could go winless this season?" My answer was no, but I can recall walking to the Peach Street parking garage thinking a single-digit season in the win column was likely. And it doesn't help to look at the PSAC standings in December and see your team looking up at Lock Haven.
The reason for the turnaround is simple; the Knights are finally scoring more than the point-a-minute pace they were on through the first three games of the season. What a difference having an outside shooter (George Johnson) on the floor makes. It opens up driving lanes, passing lanes to the post, and room for Travis Brannen to operate underneath. Oh, plus Johnson's scoring 27 ppg himself. I'm TGIP: Thankful George Is Playing.
More from the Daemen game:
-- I don't have details, but rumors were swirling around the Hammermill Center that a former Division I swingman from Ohio could be joining the Knights for the second semester. I guess we'll find out at the Porreco Cup ...
-- James Bryant had to feel confident he could help the Knights after watching them commit 28 turnovers against the Warriors. If Bryant is a drive-to-score point guard (vs. a drive-to-pass point) and has range, the Knights will improve by another giant notch when Bryant's in the lineup. I know this quote is old -- it's from 2003 -- but here's how Bryant's high school coach described him: "Combo guard. Has the court vision, ball handling and quickness to play the point but he also has the range and ability to score off the dribble to play the off guard." If that's accurate, I consider it John Reilly's Christmas gift to all of us. Thanks, coach!
-- The Christmas spirit was not sweeping through the Hammermill Center Tuesday night. The referees were booed frequently by the Knight faithful, and when the GU fans were quiet, Daemen coach Don Silveri was giving everyone an earful. When a Gannon fan said to Silveri, "Quit your crying, coach!", Silveri turned to him and said two words ... and they weren't, "Merry Christmas." Moments later, when Wildcat guard Jorge Eubanks fouled out of the game, he left the court saying loudly, "That's f---ing ridiculous", "I don't f---ing believe it", and when he wasn't feeling loquacious, just plain and simple, "f---." I wonder where he gets his manners from? I can tell you that Coaches Chapman, Dukiet, Slocum, and Reilly would never use language like that directed towards a fan or tolerate their players behaving in the same manner.
-- Looking ahead, if Anthony Simmons gets healthy, the DI transfer comes in, and those guys plus Bryant are legit, Gannon would have a regular rotation of: Bryant, Johnson, and mystery DI kid at the guards with Brannen, Simmons, Demski, and Scandrett inside. One of Bouldes, Piotrowicz, or Batts would be the backup point with Crouch, Dexter, and/or Harris playing guard or small forward. Then again, if none of those new guys are legit (maybe Anthony Simmons will turn out to be more like Richard Simmons), at least the Knights have established themselves as a competitive Division II basketball team. Three weeks ago, that wasn't the case.