Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Speechless after a wacky win

I'm struggling for the right way to assess Gannon's performance against Cal Wednesday, so I'm forced to quote someone else. He might not be a basketball aficionado, but Pee Wee Herman once said, "Everybody's got a big but."

Yes, Gannon got a much needed PSAC West win BUT, as Golden89 said in his comment below, the Knights looked dreadful for about three quarters of the game. Yes, Gannon outrebounded Cal 37-17, BUT Cal's gameplan and effort were downright pathetic. Yes, GU hit 55% of its shots, BUT they committed a season-high -- and maybe school record -- 31 turnovers. (Insert your own Sontheimer's or Arnone's Bakery turnover joke here.) The optimist in me is thrilled Anthony Simmons had his coming out party, BUT the pessimist in me thinks, "What if he hadn't?" We'd be lamenting now that Gannon is 5-8 after consecutive home losses.

It wasn't all good news/bad news. Larry Swann's 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting was his best game of the year. The biggest highlight for me was the intensity of the Gannon team, especially the coaching staff. Travis Brannen spent 26 minutes on the bench in foul trouble, but you could see he was totally engaged in winning the game, standing up frequently to exhort his teammates. Coaches Reilly and Viscuso were intense from start to finish, barking out orders and encouragement to the team and even calling a time out with a minute left to make sure they finished the game the right way.

Conversely, Cal coach Bill Brown threw in the towel with nearly 4 minutes to go in the game, clearing his bench even though the margin was only 15. Prior to that, Brown said very little to his team during the game and I don't think he stood up for anything other than a timeout. His Vulcans mirrored his attitude, firing up bad shots from all angles and (literally) giving up uncontested baskets in transition.

This year's Gannon team may not be the most talented BUT at least they try.


  1. Since the Knights are entering the crucial part of the schedule tonight, I think we should take stock of what we can hope to expect from the guys over the 14 PSAC West games. I hope to expect the Knights to finish around .500 with a 7-7 record. That is really what I think our best case scenario will be.

    I view the West in two tiers. The upper Tier right now consists of IUP, Slippery Rock and Cal. The lower Tier consists of Edinboro, Clarion, Mercyhurst, Gannon and Lock Haven.

    Against the upper Tier, I don't think that it is unrealistic to think they could scratch out 2 wins in the 6 games against those teams. The best shot for some wins is at home of course, making tonight's game against Cal big.

    Then for the lower Tier, they need 5 wins out of those 8 games. The Knights have shown that they can beat the average teams (Bloomsburg), so that means Edinboro and Clarion should create an even matchup for Gannon. If they get at minimum 2, hopefully 3 wins against those teams, that would help greatly. Lock Haven is having another down year, and the Knights should beat them at the Mill and have a decent shot of winning on the road (though last year's team had some trouble there).
    The last problem will come with Mercyhurst. They have a good record this year but that is in largely non-league play. Since all stats get thrown out the window in GU/MC games, those are really up for grabs. If GU gets one win, that also is a big help.

    So to review the math:
    (IUP/SR/CAL)= 2 wins
    (EU/CL)= 2/3 wins
    (LH)= 2 wins (hopefully)
    (MC)= at least 1 win.

    At a minimum that calculation leaves the Knights right at 7-7, which is really satisfactory for a team that has had as much turmoil as this one has had. This of course is pure conjecture and dozens of factors can change how these games turnout. But I think that this is a realistic evaluation of what the Knights can expect to strive for this year. Any thoughts on this from other readers?


  2. On a second note, good luck to the women tonight as they take on Cal! That should be a good challenge for the ladies to make a statement against the defending regional champions.

  3. Basketball can be a corky game:

    GU has 31 TO Cal has 15 or 17, yet we win.
    Travis, one of our main scorers, plays 14 mins, with 8 points, Simmons, who has played little registers 22 with 14 points and 6 rebounds. Last game, Swann couldn't hit the rim, he's 4 of 7. But winning the game, priceless!

  4. I'm looking at nothing but the positives after this huge win.

    1. Swann obviously read this blog and took everyones criticism personally. He may not have had a ton of points, but he had some big shots. This includes the long 3 pointer with 2 hands in his face to give them their first double digit lead of the game. Also, I watched him closely today and I can see why he played so much last game... DEFENSE!!! Did anyone notice how much his hands and feet are moving on defense?? Reminds me similar to Cory knights defensive play.

    2. Johnson 17 netted, 7 boards, 7 dimes, need anyone say more?! Yes! Great defense, amazing hustle, incredible leadership, and very talented person all around.

    3. Who wouldve thought some of our best basketball would be played with brannen on the bench for 26 minutes?! Simmons definitely appears to still not be in shape, as you could see him breathing very hard in the second half, but if he can do this now as a freshmen, imagine what he could possibly be down the line...

    4. The rebounding was terrific!!!

    5. Womens game was a great prelude to this game. Can't wait to see more of both teams.

  5. I'm still trying to process this zany game. Gannon had 31 turnovers and won by 12. Huh?
    They played well on offense for about 13-15 minuntes (5-6 in the first half and 7-8 in the second half). For the other 25-27 minutes they looked utterly abysmal, at least on offense. Not sure what was going on, but Cali looked catatonic out there at times. Maybe GU's defense made them look bad, but you'll have work hard to convince me that they were a 12-3 team going in.

    The bottom line is that if you only give up 47 points, you don't really have to play well on offense to win. Playing defense will always keep you in the game.

    George Johnson had one of the lines of the year ... 17 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and EIGHT turnovers. By the way Piotrowicz was the point guard during most of the decisive run of the second half. He lacks in other areas, but he doesn't turn the ball over, allowing the offense to be more efficient. And Anthony Simmons was terrific. What do others think about having Brannen and him in the lineup together at times.

    Yes, this is a men's blog, but I'd be remiss to not mention one of the best women's games, check that, best GAMES, I've ever seen at the Hammermill. The win moves GU to 17-0 on the season. Being a Dolphins fan (and a long-time Lady Knight fan), the record of 17-0 holds a special significance. The difference is that the 1972 Fins were done, while the Lady Knights stil have many games ahead of them to reach their goals. But a win over a great Cal team could go a long way to having some postseason games at Erie. But we can't afford to look ahead too far ...

  6. so, i didn't realize that when you win a game, you get turnovers taken away from you?!

    I had the live stats up on my phone throughout the game last night, and with 1:14 remaining they had 38 turnovers, yet in the paper it reports 31. Hey, if we keep winning, our turnover average will be down to almost 15!! :)

  7. and how about through the first game of PSAC play, Gannon is 1-0 and Hurst and Boro are both 0-1?? Hurst lost on a garbage shot to a very good Slippery Rock team, but Boro got smashed by a struggling Lock Haven team. WoW!

  8. I was too violent to play the game. I not good at analyizing the game as others on this board are.
    Like G89 I greatly enjoy watching the ladies play. I'm a season tkt holder and haven't missed a m/w game since I moved back to Erie.
    I expect GU to WIN EVERY GAME. I go to see them win not loose.
    Ah..., but realisticly a .500 season is what I will probably see.

  9. Let's be careful to not read too much into the Knights' win. I don't think we should lose sight of how poorly Cal played. I thought their offensive scheme didn't really create good scoring opportunities for them, and that wasn't the only reason I thought they were poorly coached, as their fundamentals were poor as well.

    However, even in the win, GU's main problem persisted, and it may only have been Cal's ineptitude that allowed the Gannon win. While, as noted above, some good things were done by Johnson, Bryant, and Swann, you simply cannot win consistently with 21 turnovers among 3 starters and 31 as a team (23 in the first half. 23!). The Knights won the game in the 9 minute stretch when they went on a 25-5 run and only turned the ball over once. That's when they played well. The other 31 minutes of the game yielded 30 turnovers. For the math-challenged, that's almost 1 per minute. They won't go 7-7 in the league doing that. There's no reason why that number can't be reduced, particularly because so many of the TO's are simply carelessness.

    I don't know what the answer is, as it looks to me like, judging by their lack of care in handling the ball, those 3 players don't think they'll be pulled from the game, no matter how many mistakes they make, and the stats seem to bear that out (5 or more TO's has been the norm for several GU players who have not lost minutes as a result, and then there's the infamous 1 for 16 shooting night). However, if the turnover numbers aren't reduced, the record is unlikely to improve.

  10. cc -- check your phone ... I followed the live stats and GU never had 38 TOs. They were stuck on 28 for a few minutes then gave up 3 quickies late for 31.

    Check the play-by-play ... It'll add up to 31 TOs.

    Speaking of turvovers, the Hilbert women had FIFTY in a 39-point loss to Behrend on Wednesday. One poor player had 18 TOs by herself.

  11. Yeah the stream on my phone must have been messed up because it said Gannon had 18 turnovers at halftime, not 23. At half mine displayed it as turnovers 10-18.

    So, in this case, can we not give SOME credit to Gannon for only comitting 8 turnovers in the second half? I'll agree California didn't look great but to cut your turnovers down over 50% from first half to second half is very good!!

  12. Excited to head down to Clarion again this Saturday. Went down last year and it was great (albeit booing Yanke made it that much better haha). But the best part about it, besides getting to see womens and mens teams play, is the fact I will not have to work 730a to 8p Saturday. That's ALWAYS a selling point in my book!!!

  13. I spoke with a former player today who said he was simply shocked that, with the amount of turnovers in the game, that it turned out the way it did. He couldn't be there due to other life commitments but was as about as surprised as the rest of us that we pulled this off. As a former player he said that realistically we can't expect to see a perfect season. We lost tremendous talent last season and it is clearly hard to maintain that this year. The only thing that made me cringe was that he is on what my housemates lovingly refer to as "Team Tanner." Now, I'm all for Tanner & can't wait to say in 2,3 years that this phenomenal player was once the awkward freshman that made me cringe every time he stepped onto the court. However, I really think Reilly should let him develop & take advantage of some of his more seasoned bench players, like Woodbury.

    I was very pleased to see improved sportsmanship from both sides last night. Even though the refs made some harsh calls (in both the men's & women's games!), everyone seemed to keep their cool.

    cc3, I'm excited to head down there as well. A few of the most dedicated student fans asked me to come along since I'm apparently the only one with a voice still! (It seems broadcasting the women's game for WERG does wonders to save your voice!) Nothing like stirring up the pot & bringing some GU spirit into Clarion :)

  14. cc -- Gannon had 18 TOs at halftime.

    Have a great trip to Clarion! Love the PSAC and doable road games!

  15. We need to get together. I'll be in Clarion on Sat too.
    Who else is going on the booster bus to IUP?

  16. The Gannon kids will be together holding a sign that says "17-0 to St. Louis we go!" for the women's game. I believe the plan is to then move to wherever the women are sitting for the guy's game. Clarion has not started back to school yet, so I doubt there will be a lot of people there.

  17. I'm driving myself, cheaper! Haha

    I thought they only had 18 at half, but in most of the above posts peoplr are saying they had 23 at half. Also paper said 23 at half.

  18. Not to spoil anyone's fun, but the Women's Elite Eight is actually in St. Joseph's Missouri, not St. Louis. St. Joes is on the opposite end of the state.