Monday, March 15, 2010

NCAA Sweet 16: Gannon 65, Millersville 48

St. Joseph's, Missouri -- here they come! Congratulations to the Knights on their Atlantic Region championship via a 65-48 victory tonight over Millersville. The number you're going to hear incessantly until March 23 will be "eight," as in Elite 8. That's truly a tremendous accomplishment for Gannon, on top of a perfect 36-0 record.

But the "8" that I'm amazed at is the "8" in the attendance figure of 2800. I knew a lot of people would attend the game, somewhere north of 2000, but I never thought in my lifetime a women's basketball game would sell out the Hammermill Center. I recall the days when the Lady Knights couldn't fill the Audi's plush seats for local rivalry games against Mercyhurst and Edinboro. To pack the place is a tribute to Coach Wright, everyone else in his program, and the Erie community.

Next on the docket is upstart Tusculum College, the #7 seed in the Southeast Region and 4th place finisher in the SAC (no, not Student Activities Center -- the South Atlantic Conference) and a 70-63 winner tonight at host Lander. Diminutive SAC player of the year Jasmine Gunn, a 4-foot-11 junior, led the Pioneers (23-9) with 30 points by shooting 11-for-20 from the field and 8-for-8 from the foul line. Before their current 9-game win streak, Tusculum was just 14-9 overall, a mediocre 7-6 in the conference. (Notice I didn't say they were "mediocre in the SAC." Stop your snickering.)

For more info on GU's next opponent, click here. But don't click there right now. Celebrate tonight -- start preparing tomorrow.

25 comments:

  1. Tonights goal is the same as Friday and Saturday:

    Survive and Advance. That is all.

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  2. AS much as we on here are anticipating what MU is going to bring into the mill. I can just imagine what MU is thinking coming into downtown Erie and its reputation for the loudest fans in the East. MU has a lot on their plate to digest when they face off against the gals from Peach st.
    It will be a battle royal that's for sure and pity to any fan that has to miss it. Mu has to be concerned about our experience, I/O game, depth, and team 1st attitude. I'm sure there's a lot more but then again what do I know, I'm just a GU fan.
    GO KNIGHTS

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  3. With 740 left and 18-18, I'd like to reiterate my statement of less is more. Easily 2000+ people and the 13 Millersville fans are MUCH LOUDER than ours right
    now. LET'S GET LOUD GANNON FANS!!!!!!!

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  4. Now THATS what I'm talking about Gannon fans! THAT was LOOOOOUUUUDDDDDDDDD!!!

    LET'S
    GO
    KNIGHTS

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  5. Wow! 36-0 to Missouri we go. Truly an amazing accomplishment. Congrats to Coach Wright and his staff and this entire fantastic group of players. What a credit to the Gannon community as well as the Erie community. Go Knights!

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  6. Spectacular night ... Having been a follower of the women's program since the days of Tonya Treharne and Shelly Fetzner, I am amazed on how far this program has come.

    Just an amazing team and an amazing effort ... Early in the second half, I was wishing that Cal had won on Saturday, but then GU completely took over. Once Gannon got up by double figures, MU didn't have the offense to get back in it.

    Crocker was simply incredible in the regional ... 20 assists and five turnovers.

    None of GU's opponents were a complete team. Fairmont State had one great player, SHU could shoot, and MU had great pressure defense. But Gannon has too many weapons that can win in too many different ways. It's going to take a complete effort if someone was to knock off GU in Missouri.

    What an incredible day, team, and season. And it's still going ...

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  7. Cleve Wright now joins Stan Swank and Jim Webb as coaches who have guided Erie area women's basketball teams to the Elite Eight. That's some select company ... well, maybe not. At least Cleve's team is undefeated. :-)

    I believe that the list of Erie men's coaches who went to the Elite Eight are Jim Sparling, Tom Chapman (twice), Bob Dukiet, and John Reilly.

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  8. Even when MU had a lead, I never once wished for Brooque Williams to be opposing us. The only MU player that worried me offensively was Jenny Craig. No one else seemed to have the consistent spark like her. Brooque and Cal U however had many weapons with Williams being one of the best and most dangerous in the country.

    How big was that intentional foul call and then the missed FT with .6 secs left? I know MU regained the lead here and there in the second half, but those two plays couldve given them so much more confidence and momentum. Not to mention we couldve been down by a few at half. No great team plays without a little luck.

    I wish I wouldve been listening to the game on the radio so I couldve went back to the good ole days and hear Bohen say (for MU): "Moyer for threeeeeeee....
    Count it!!!" :-)

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  9. CC -- Now that we won, I'm glad that we played MU. :-)

    Seriously, after seeing MU, I am glad that they were here instead of Cal. Their defense is good, but I was surprised to see that they don't score a ton of points off of it, like Cal can. And their offense is just above average and they don't have Cal's explosiveness.

    But look at Cal ... they wound up 0-6 on the season against the Atlantic regional semi-finalists (GU 0-3, MU 0-2, SHU 0-1). Their press can overwhelm bad teams, but quality teams handled Cal's defense and exploited their weaknesses.

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  10. I totally understand that, however, MU finished 6th in the region for a reason just as Cal finished 2nd for a region. I'll take the #6 every time, especially when the #2 team was one of only what... 2 teams? to play us within 5 points?

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  11. 89, good recap of EE coaches (btw, it was ED Sparling, Jim's older brother)

    cc3, never "count it" for opposition.

    I thought Kleber taking the charge against Newman after the steal was a real turning point. Speaking of charges, great job by GU all night in establishing position and taking charges. I counted 6.

    Congrats to MU for advancing to regional final. Their defense was fun to watch, as Gannon hadn't been face-guarded like that all season. But again, the expression "forced turnovers" is a bit misleading. In the first half, GU had 14 turnovers: four were 3 second calls, 3 were travelling. Turnovers, but hardly forced.

    Outstanding team effort. As the Talking Heads say, "same as it ever was".

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  12. Boze,

    Great job...a true class act! Was listening to both WERG and the Millersville feed; they were beside themselves on the officiating and called fouls. Of course, they had nothing to say about the rebound imbalance.

    RFJJ

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  13. FYI, Erie to St. Joseph, MO roughly 950 miles. I-90 to I-80 to I-35 and follow the signs. Sounds like a doable 2-day roadie to me!

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  14. Very exciting game last night. Great atmosphere, and as loud as it's been in a while. As usual, a great team win for the Lady Knights, with Crocker and Tabron leading the way.

    I'm not looking forward to GU having to face MU's # 13 for the next 3 years. She was quick and relentless. Maybe GU will get lucky and won't have them as a crossover opponent all that much.

    The turning point, IMO, was the last 4 minutes of the first half, when MU, which had been playing good position defense by patiently moving their feet, not reaching for the ball, suddenly lost their patience, started reaching at every opportunity and trying to emphatically block every inside shot, incurring a lot of foul calls. They also started taking shots early in their possessions, which turned the pace into GU's pace when, up until then, it had been MU's desired pace. When #35 intentionally fouled Crocker, that was the event that GU needed to turn it around. They took full advantage, scoring 9 straight and effectively taking control of the game. MU's coach called it frustration with the officials, but it looked more like plain old stupidity to me.

    As for taking the charges as mentioned above, GU DID do a good job of getting in position, but at least 3 of those could've gone either way. The higher-seeded team, playing at home, got the calls. One thing I've noticed about the PSAC is that the officials for both genders consistently give the more successful team the benefit of the doubt when making the "50-50" calls. It was something the men's team had to deal with all year (particularly in the play-in game @ IUP) and I could see why MU felt that way last night. I doubt that it was the reason that GU won, but I don't think it hurt.

    Nonetheless, congratulations, safe travels, and best of luck to the Lady Knights as they go for the national title.

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  15. 74, great point about Newman (#13). Could there be a more athletic match-up than her vs. Kleber next year? And I agree regarding the charging calls, and that the officiating, while suspect, had less to do with the outcome than did GU's grit and defense.

    BTW, the remaining games will be carried on WERG-FM, 90.5. Dan Teliski will be handling all of the play-by-play.

    Go Knights!!!

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  16. Congrats to IUP, who knocked off West Liberty by 12 to advance to the Elite 8.

    And how about St. Josephs? The 8 seed beats host Kentucky Wesleyan, then ties Grand Valley with a three at the buzzer and wins the second round game with a lay-up with 2 seconds left. Tonight? They beat Quincy 104-103 in triple overtime!

    St. Joe's plays Cal-Poly Pomona, who beat the Seasiders of BYU-Hawaii, 78-75. Only three #1 seeds made the Elite Eight on the men's side: IUP, Augusta State, and Midwestern State, who denied the Central Missouri Mules a repeat trip to Springfield with a 60-59 victory.

    Six #1 seeds made it on the women's side. Only Tusculum and Emporia State won on the road.

    GU / Tusculum will play the winner of Emporia State / Michigan Tech. Emporia, KS is about 2 1/2 hours from St. Joseph's, MO and will be the only team with any kind of crowd advantage. From what I'm told, Emporia has played a game or two at the SJ Civic Center this year in the MIAA tournament.

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  17. Would love to see a film of Tusculum before they play GU.

    How can a 4'11" player score that much (almost 700 points, 21 a game)when she only made 10 3's all year? How can she get to the foul line 276 times? How could she get 166 rebounds? How could she score 30 or more 5 times, including as many as 45 points in a game? Her stats are impressive. She must be QUICK.

    In reviewing their results, stats and roster, I noticed a few things that were interesting:
    -They scored over 100 3 times
    -They pounded District of Columbia (a team that I thought I remember had beaten Millersville)twice, once by 32 pts and once by 28
    -They have a 6'8" player, who might be more than just tall-she averaged 10 points and 8 boards per game
    -They have 8 players average double digit minutes, so they can go deep into their bench
    -They won 5 games with scores of 70 or less as well as 6 with 88 points or more, so they can win playing up tempo AND a more controlled tempo.
    -They haven't lost since February 13, winning 9 straight, and only 34 of those were at home.

    If nothing else, it will be an interesting matchup. I'm sure Coach Wright will come up with a good game plan, but how do you stay in front of a player that quick? Perhaps that little 2-3 zone with the trap just over half court to make her give up the ball? Maybe try to control the pace a little and keep it a half court game?

    Looking forward to watching this one, just to see the strategy Cleve comes up with.

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  18. Sorry for the typo, only 3 of Tusculum's 9 straight wins were at home.

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  19. Where is everyone? Watching the Division I games? Anybody go the pep rally? I had to work, so I missed it.

    By the way, the photographer in the Buffalo Wild Wings "send it into overtime" commercials reminds me of Mike Gallagher. :-)

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  20. i went to the pep rally- decent turn-out for 3:15 on a friday afternoon. jet-tv estimated about 300 were there. the wrestling team were great with their painted chests & faces.

    the girls have safely landed in missouri- i stopped by & wished them luck last night. they were beyond excited to go & are so excited to have some familiar faces in the crowd this week.

    anyone else taking the bus trip??

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  21. No offense, but I'm not even thinking about any D2 games until Tuesday at about 6:55pm when I watch the Lady Knights play on the internet.

    IT'S ALL D1 RIGHT NOW, BABYYYY!! (Dick Vitale's voice haha)

    This has been one of the best tournaments I've seen in a LONG time!! #4 Vandy out in the first, #3 Georgetown pounded in the first, #10 St. Mary's showing that Gonzaga isn't top "dog" from their conference, #1 Kentucky showing that they probably are the top team in the country, absolutely awesome!!!

    Now, briefly (while the GT/OSU game is at a commercial)... I think we all finally got through to ETN, eh? Nice full page pretty much dedicated to the Lady Knights in today's paper. First is a real nice article about how Freeman doesn't care how many points she scores because she just wants to win (which is cliche as any player will say that, BUT with these girls I feel that's a genuine statement from any of them... I really believe none of them care individually about performances as long as collectively they're playing well and winning, AWESOME) and second article about how, even though they are not playing alot, the back-ups contribute tremendously to the team. Very True!! I've always referred to backups (not Gannon, but backups in general) as "practice dummies" as they are used to run plays that the other teams run, or to mimic opposing players, etc. And this is true, however, those "practice dummies" have to be at the top of their game to prepare the starters for what's to come.

    Everyone on this Lady Knights' team should be very proud of what they've accomplished with this season; starter, reserve, or backup.

    GO KNIGHTS!!!!!!!

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  22. CC -- Yes, I'm sure that it was the six to eight posters of this blog who made the difference in the Erie Times News' level of coverage.

    Truth be told, I never thought their coverage was so bad.

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  23. Golden - Sarcasm about the posters on this blog making the difference. But I wouldn't be surprised if the 6-7 different articles from readers they had published in the Sports Section might have made a little impact (i.e.- it showed ETN that people DO actually want to see it)

    My problem was rarely with the coverage itself (i.e.- length of article), but rather where the article was. When it was buried somewhere deep in the paper AND was about 5 lines long, that was my problem. As soon as the reality that an undefeated season was very possible, they should've been front page every write-up, even if small.

    I mean, seriously...? The last-seeded Otters and basement-bound BayHawks constantly get front page?? I understand Women's BBall isn't the "big" sport, but when they're drawing 1800+ and the Otters and BayHawks are getting about 4000 (and most of the time that is from free ticket giveaways)... I think that kind of shows people cared about Gannon.

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  24. Sorry ... I may have been a bit over the top.

    Anyhow, I still don't mind the coverage. Every playoff game had Jarzomski and Dudley at it. Jarz is making the trip to St. Joseph, MO.

    I think that the ETN plans its placements to try to spread it around. They do try to hit the pro sports heavier (for better for for worse) and when it comes down to HS and College, they try not to show favoritism. This seemed to come about when the Cuneos stepped down and Matt Martin took over.

    And I'm not a Bayhawk or Otter fan; I've been two two games combined since 1996 and both were when I received free tickets and had absolutely nothing else going on.

    Just a little under 48 hours to go ...

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  25. I totally agree that ETN would want to spread it around and not show favortism and that is how they should do it. If they only covered one team, it'd get boring and i know I'd lose interest in their paper.

    I'll also admit that I was a bit extreme with my negative talk about their coverage of the Lady Knights. Not every game needed to be the feature story nor should it have been.

    I do think that now all Lady Knights, Victors, and Lakers basketball games should be feature articles. I'm not even a villa or MPS fan either. But with the runs that all 3 teams have made, they are all well deserving of great recognition by all.

    I'll admit I am by no means an Otter or BayHawk fan either. However, if either was making a great run towards a championship I'd expect and want to see them as the feature story as well.

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