Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Handy Man

I really liked what I saw from James Bryant during Gannon's pulsating win over Taylor (Ind.). The way I see it, Bryant is 45% Jarming White (explosive and flashy), 35% Javar Cheatham (killer handle and penetrates to either score or pass), and 20% Gee Blanks (lefty who plays high-risk, high-reward defense). Or maybe Bryant is simply a Division II version of Kenny Anderson. Either way, he makes the Knights more potent offensively.

What has me excited (besides seeing Gannon break out of the 40s on the scoreboard) is that Bryant isn't yet at the top of his game physically and mentally. Someone sitting within earshot of the Gannon bench told me you could hear one of the assistant coaches more or less telling Bryant every step he should be taking. It's like coaching a soccer team of 5-year-olds: "Get the ball, Jimmy. Dribble it over here. Pass it to George. Now run to the middle. Stop there ..." When Bryant is comfortable, I'm thinking he'll be a consistent double-digit scorer and lead the Knights in assists.

Other observations from Wednesday night at the Porreco Cup:
* Someone asked me the last time Gannon played in a Porreco consolation game. You have to go back 17 years when the Knights fell to Slippery Rock, 61-58, in 1992. And did you know the 1989-90 team that advanced to the Elite 8 was relegated to the '89 Porreco consolation game? GU fell to Northern Kentucky in the opener, 84-81, after four academic suspensions depleted the roster. Only a Mike Crawford last-second three that sent the game into OT and big Mike Snyder's offense and rebounding in the extra period vs. Millersville avoided a last-place Porreco finish for that team.

* George Johnson made the all-tourney team, showing that what you do on day one of a two-day tournament (Johnson was 2-for-15 vs. Seton Hill) doesn't mean a hill of beans. Johnson led the Knights with 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting against Taylor.

* On a personal note, I think it took Larry Swann all of 18 seconds to match my career high of 3 points. Sigh.

* Three oddities about the Taylor basketball team. First, I'm trying to think of the last college team I've seen on TV or play at the Hammermill that had no minority players, coaches, trainers, etc. Second, Trojan head coach Paul Patterson has coached over 1,000 games but apparently he never learned how to signal for a timeout. Every other coach I've seen makes some form of a "T" with their hands. Patterson just raised his right hand like a schoolboy and yelled "time!" Finally, with Taylor being a fundamental Christian school, it was nice to sit behind their bench and not hear one cuss word the entire game.

* An oddity for Gannon. Yes, I'm surprised they have 17 players on the active roster, but I'm completely stunned they actually have 17 uniforms to distribute. Did somebody see this coming?

* I'll buy you a ticket to a Salem International women's basketball game (they're 0-8 this season, scoring less than 40 ppg) if you can correctly guess the reason I chose the headline "Handy Man" for this blog post.


  1. Bryant is wearing jersey #1. Can anyone remember the last player to wear #1? I have an idea but I'm not positive and I'm not asking this as a trivia question as I really don't know the answer haha I'm just curious as I can't really recall any #1s in recent history.

  2. Byrant is quick, strong, can penetrate, and dish. Also seems to have some leadership ability. He's the type of PG a team needs ... we need. I'm afraid some of the other PGs are going to see little playing time.

    Swann has a nice shot. Him in the game takes some of the pressure off George. Poor Steve, can't buy a bucket but still a shooting threat.

    Dexter starting over Zo?

    For a skinny kid, Furno is a banger and plays very good low post defense. Great feet for a "big" man. And if he continues to contribute offensively, the low post can't be ignored. With Furno and Simmons available at the 5 spot, Reilly could play Travis at 4, a better position for him IMO. Either Furno/Simmons at 5, Travis at 4, James at PG, Demski at 2, and many options for 2 (Dexter, Swan, Crouch, etc) would be an interesting mix.

    Reilly definitely subbed better this game ... less players played but there seemed to be a better flow going. He stuck w/ the group playing the best at that particular time.

    This weekend ... oh my ... hope they're competitive or it could be ugly.

  3. I think that Bryant has to be the first GU player to wear #1, because it only became a legal number within the last 10-15 years.

    I thought that at last one of the GLIAC Upper Peninsula teams over the years had no minorities.

    The few dozen fans who stuck around for the second half of the championship game were highly entertained. Once Ferris got back in it early in the half, it was a very intense, back-and-forth, fairly well-played game. By the way, former Hillsdale coach Ed Douma is the volunteer assistant "bench coach" for Ferris as head coach Bill Sall is one of his former players. When congratulated on the win after the game, he said that he sees "a little of himself" in Coach Sall.

    I'm stumped on the Handy Man reference. "Handy Man" was a James Taylor hit in the late 60s or early 70s. James Bryant vs. Taylor? May be a stretch, but could that be it?

  4. Gubbfwlr: agreed that brannen would be better at the 4 spot, BUT ONLY of furno or whoever is the 5 is contributing offensively. If they are not, then it wouldn't make a huge difference where brannen plays. However I also feel you could play brannen at the 5 and furno at the 4, with the intent of furno
    not having to be against the "biggest guy" all the time. I like brannen againstthe opposing big guy because he has some great ups. Also, you said demski at the 2, which I'm assuming you meant 3, but umm what about Johnson? You didn't mention him as the 2 guard so I'm hoping u were mistakenly typing demski over George. To be honest I've seen demski play 2 games now and I've been highly disappointed!! I love the kid and been a demski supporter since his redshirt year, but he has shown me no reason he should be playing this season. The back is obviously affecting him as he is constantly wincing. I just am not understanding how he's contributing, besides the leadership aspect. He's a great leader! Also, I was very upset with scandrett being benches, especially for Dexter. Scandrett is not and will never be am offensive juggernaut, but him and George are BY FAR the best two hustlers and defenders so far this season. I really feel had he played more yesterday we wouldve won by more. He may not record the stats, but his presence is always felt.

    Looked back through some past programs and Wil Johnson wore #1 in his only year at Gannon. Besides that however I have a feeling he's the only one other than Bryant.

  5. the james taylor song handyman, though its a bit of a stretch mr. roddy.

  6. cc3 - yea messed that line up when typing it out but George at 2 spot and Demski at 3 because of his leadership on the floor, esp in running the plays. Plays seem to run better when Mark(and ZO) are in.

  7. Hope disagreeing with another opinion isn't being too negative, but I think that Demski and Scandrett, both of whom I like, are too much alike (physical players who hustle, good rebounders, good on D, but not outstanding offensively, particularly their shooting range), to be on the court at the same time. Just MHO.

    As far as some of the combinations of players suggested in an earlier post, I'm not sure a team with Furno, Brannen, and Demski in the game at the same time would be quick enough to play the aggressive style of defense that Coach Reilly employs. One of the problems GU had with Urbana was that all the UU players except their 5 guy was capable of draining the 3 ball and, between GU's propensity to be vulnerable to the 3 because of their style of help defense and their inability to match up on the perimeter, Urbana exploited them very successfully. Same could happen with some of the larger lineups that were suggested. The game is becoming more about speed/quickness than sheer size. I also think that Demski would have trouble keeping up with another team's 3 given his curent physical problems.

    Eventually, I'd expect to see the lineup consist of Bryant at PG, Swann at the 2, Johnson, the 3, Demski the 4, and Brannen at 5, although I would like to see what happens if Simmons can get in some semblance of basketball condition after a few weeks and contribute in the post.

  8. Gannon74: I agree and somewhat disagree with u, but mostly agree. In my opinion, demski and scandrett are the same player, with the exception that demski is slightly better offensively and, in my opinion, scandrett is slightly better defensively. Demski can definitely score, not consistent or big, but he can knock down a jumper here and there amongst his layups. Scandrett not so much, but look at the charges he's taken, blocked shots, altered shots, etc.

    I also agree that having furno, brannen, demski at same time would definitely slow down the pace of the game. However, furno would at least be quicker than demski or simmons. Simmons definitely looks like he's the inside guy down the road, but i don't see him being too quick ever, whereas furno actually has some speed and can run the court. I think it'll all come down to who else is on the court. If you have like Bryant, Johnson, crouch in the game then you could afford to have two "slower" guys as well. (just an example of what I'm trying to say)

    another thing that many people aren't realizing is Demski is technically playing the 5 spot. Looking at the way Coach Reilly runs his system, Crouch and Brannen are the 3,4 guys. Last year you had Lindsey, Howard, Johnson, Tyler, and Kyle. Lindsey was around the perimeter while Howard and Johnson took their sides alternating throughout the game. Tyler normally ran the baseline to each side of the perimeter and then Kyle stood just above the key most
    of the time and then would post up the rest of the time. Bryant is obviously the 1, Johnson is the 2, Crouch is the 3 (don't see that lasting too much longer) but he's taken tylers role as baseline guy. Brannen is the 4 but rather than being outside to take Johnsons old duty or Tylers duty, he's posting up and then Demski stands up top key same as Kyle did. I know that sounds weird as the 4 and 5 guys are usually the post up guys, but that's just my take from Coach Reillys first year to now.

    I still don't see us being near .500 for the season, but I definitely liked, for the most part, what I saw vs. Taylor. It is scary to know that Bryant is not in basketball or Gannon shape yet. That could be ugly for opponents once he gets
    going! I liked what i saw from Crouch and from Swann, in his brief stints. I would think that one of those two would replace Dexter soon enough.

  9. The "Handy Man" headline is from James Taylor. I figured Bryant came in and fixed a lot of things vs. Taylor, so that's why I went with it. It was either that or Taylor Swift's "Teardrops on my guitar," which would have made no sense whatsoever.

    I'm surprised that folks are so down on Demski and critical of his defense. Is he the best at locking up on one guy? No. But as far as running Gannon's help defense scheme -- rotating to the right spot BEFORE the ballhandler gets there, showing on pick-and-rolls, boxing out hard -- he's the best they have.

    As far as the Knights' best rotation, please see the end of my Dec. 23 post (Can you say "winning streak?") for who I think should get PT. I agree with Gannon74 that Demski and Scandrett are too similar and offensively challenged to be on the floor at the same time, unless it's a late-game situation where you just need a stop.

  10. Great Handy Man reference.

    I'll take my Salem International tickets to the January 23 game vs. Charlestown, where our heroes will attempt to avenge a 127-25 loss in the first round of the WVIAC tournament.

    Happy New Year to all! More importantly, Happy first birthday to the GU basketball blog. Thanks for setting this up. It's made following GU hoops even more enjoyable!

  11. I just wasn't too thrilled with Demskis effort the past 2 games. Against Taylor, he didn't even try for a bunch of rebounds and he just let some of them cruise past him. If he was in foul trouble I can understand him doing that, but he wasn't. Again I like the kid, but he's just not playing like he's known to play. I'm putting it on his back and saying ad his back gets better so will he. I just don't see why he's playing so much as u can tell he's hurting. Why nit split it between him and scandrett? Obviously play demski more, but scandrett can give him breaks and maybe it'd help him. He just looked exhausted against Taylor to me.

    I have faith though. I say it's the back issues.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. It seems as if most of the people on here like Furno. He played OK last game, he made few buckets and played OK defense. But besides that game, every other game he as been bad.He plays scared and doesn't have any post moves. I can't wait for him to be back on the bench once he gets in.

    On another note, is it just me or does Reilly called timeouts at the worst time?

    Can't wait to listen to today's game. GO GANNON!

  14. I don't like Furno, but I like the potential I feel he possesses. He is definitely improving every game, although I still cringe whenever they pass the ball to him. But last game he was MUCH BETTER than okay... He wasn't amazing, but he played better than I ever thought he'd play this year... hustled, strong defense, good hands, strong to the hoop. However, I still wouldn't want him starting over anyone currently in the lineup.

    Reilly doesn't call the strange timeouts, his team does haha Demski burned 3 timeouts by himself when he got in trouble. If you notice, when Demski called HIS 3rd timeout (the team's final timeout), Coach Reilly wouldn't even speak to Demski. He pointed him to the bench and turned away from him. I will say there are times when Gannon gets on a run and he calls a timeout, which I don't care for because I feel it "slows momentum". But Coach Reilly says he does it to "teach" them on why that worked, how to improve, etc. And then the other TO's he usually just uses when the other team gets hot, which is normal. I will say, though, I think he's called more timeouts in the first 8 games than he did the past 2 years total haha

    Just listened to the girls game. Good win for them, very sloppy first half, but played a decent second half to pull away. Also, Kutztown was out of their minds scoring 3's in the first half and that fizzled out in the 2nd so that helped as well.

    Eagerly awaiting Men's game.... my stomach is already turning...

  15. If your stomach is turning because of a Division II basketball game, well, I admire your passion, but you might consider reevaluating your priorities. If you were on the team or a coach of the team, I could see it, but, otherwise...It's only a game.

    In this case, GU is a decided underdog, probably a 25 point underdog, in fact. They're 4-4, playing an undefeated, seventh ranked team on the road. Any decent showing should be considered progress.

  16. I'm going to actually defend Coach Corey on this one and say its ok to get excited for the game. And im not sure why it is necessary to qualify Gannon hoops as a "Division II basketball game." Perhaps it would be more acceptable if this was Duke or something "big-time?"
    Sure, its only a game, but if you don't ever get excited for it, why listen? Yes, there are more important things in life than basketball, but as long as you do have multiple interests and hobbies, I see nothing wrong with getting worked up a bit for the games!

  17. Thanks Jeremy but I can understand what he is saying. I did not mean it as a life or death thing, I meant my stomach was turning afraid of what could be. Right now only down by 8 though. I'd like to say this is very good, but unfortunately Gannons poor 2nd half play and turnovers are quite displeasing. But still were at least being competitive.

    12 point deficit tonight, this Washington kid sounds real good. Dint remember the name from last year.

  18. And game is pretty much out of reach now... Was really hoping if we lost it would still be close, but oh well, we hung with them for about 25 mins.

    Also I meant to put in last post, I get excited still to this day when I'm playing sports. I'm just a very competitive player and coach and I can handle losing but as anyone else I really don't like it haha

    but I still now when playing sports I can't eat too close to a game. Gotta
    make sure it's well before it. Always been that way, just passionate and probly always will be.

  19. KU game - Agaim way too many turnovers, and poor shooting 57% foul line and 31% from the field. But getting better, they had a good first half.
    Re Furno: I like his potential also. As Reilly says, he has good skills and works hard. Also, he gave up his red shirt for the team due to injuries and players leaving. I guess he could have been selfish and not RS ... IMO says alot of the kid. Also note that Goldkamp RS his freshman year and was skinner than Furno and look how he ended up his last two years. Like cc3 says, all the new players have lots of potential, we'll see how it works out in the following years. Remember that Simmons played a year of prep ball and though bigger than Furno is not as skilled - Simmon has poor weak hand skills, but again hugh potential.When Simmons plays I hope folks like gannonfaithful gives him some grace ... they are both freshman!