Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GU Recruit: Kareem Brown G 6-2 sr.

Today was like Christmas for us Gannon fans. Not to make student-athletes sound like a commodity, but we got a bunch of gifts today -- so many that we can't focus on all of them at the same time. Maybe the race car game will be more fun than it looked in the JCPenney catalog. Or maybe it will be like electric football; fun to look at and fiddle with, but frustrating beyond all get out when the game actually starts.

Two members of the recruiting class weren't a surprise to us. We shared information on Kelvin Agee on April 22 and provided details on Stephen Battle earlier this month. The most intriguing of the rest of the class is Kareem Brown, the 6-foot-2 senior transfer from Division I Coppin State (Md.). DI transfers are always attention-getting, but making Brown even more interesting is that he was Coppin's leading scorer last year at 10.0 ppg and made the most threes (57) on the team.

I've heard some folks speculate that Coppin must be dreadful because their leading scorer averaged right at double figures. Of course those folks are speculating without having any facts, a centuries long tradition for us sports fans. Coppin State was just 8-22 last year (3-13, last place in the MEAC), but I think the main reasons for the low point totals are:
1. The Eagles rotated all 10 players on their roster; nobody averaged fewer than 15 minutes per game and nobody averaged more than 29.
2. The stats make me speculate that Coppin State played deliberately on offense and then on defense forced opponents to move the ball. The Eagles scored just 61 ppg and allowed only 67 ppg. Their 3-point field goal defense (opponents shot just 28.8% from beyond the arc) ranked in the top 10 nationally.

The burning question is why would a kid transfer from a school for his senior year after being the leading scorer as a junior? (I'm sure Augusta State fans are asking the same thing about some kid named George Johnson who their program just landed.) I was hoping that Coppin just experienced a coaching change, but that couldn't be further from the case. Ron "Fang" Mitchell -- why can't I have a nickname like that? -- will be on the Coppin sidelines for the 25th consecutive year this winter. And you don't stay around that long without winning. My man Fang is the six-time MEAC coach of the year, winning several league titles, and earning 4 NCAA bids. You might recall in 1997 when 15-seed Coppin State shocked #2-seed South Carolina in the first round of the NCAAs.

That was 13 years ago, but it might seem like longer for Eagles fans. For the past 5 years (maybe longer, Coppin's web site isn't as good as Gannon's), the Eagles haven't had a winning record. In fact, they're averaging 20 losses per season since 2005. They had a 13-game losing streak last year. Maybe Brown was sick of losing and jumped at the chance to win his final college season. Maybe John Reilly's Maryland connections kicked in. Maybe he talked with former Knight Joe Lindsey, who, like Brown, played his juco ball at Monroe (NY) Community College. We'll have to wait for Reilly's explanation when he appears next on Jim LeCorchick's radio show.

Here's more info on Brown, much of it thanks to Gannon SID Dan Teliski:

* Here's a game-by-game breakdown of Brown's 2009-2010 season at Coppin State
* He scored 23 at Navy on 8-for-15 shooting, including 7-of-10 from 3-point range.
* Other high scoring games were 18 vs. Florida A&M and at Morgan State, 17 vs. Maryland-Baltimore County and vs. Division II West Virginia Tech
* Against the big schools he had 11 at USC, 8 at Colorado, 7 at West Virginia, 7 at Oklahoma State, and 0 at Michigan
* He hit for 7 against Washington Adventist, the school formerly known as Columbia Union. That alone should have earned him the scholarship at Gannon!
* Transferred to Coppin State after spending two seasons at Monroe CC (2007-2009)
* As a sophomore, averaged 15 ppg, leading Monroe CC to a 30-7 record and a berth in the national tournament, where he was named to the national all-tournament team
* Participated in the NJCAA All-Star game
* As a freshman, averaged 12.6 ppg
* At New London (Conn.) High School, he was a two-time New Haven Register All-State selection and scored over 1,400 points
* Here's a photo of Brown in action at West Virginia
* This is him going in for a layup against Maryland Eastern Shore

Want to follow Kareem on Twitter? You can at http://www.twitter.com/kareem24. (Warning: Web page contains some offensive language.) The Coppin State logo is all over his page, so he's going to have to get that updated. And I hope Gannon has #24 available for him so he doesn't have to change his Twitter handle. I searched many of his 1,880 Twitter posts and didn't glean anything about his situation. I thought he might have said something about playing time or something like that. I do know now that he loves Kobe and the Lakers, he watches tons of basketball, and he has some sort of insomnia issue.

That was a ton of information, but the still unanswered question is, "What can Brown do for GU?" We'll find out in about 5 months.

Breaking News: GU Announces 7 Recruits

Gannon just announced the first wave of the 2010 recruiting class this morning. I'll do more research on them in the near future ... wanted to post the press release now so we're all in the loop.


ERIE, Pa. - Gannon head men’s basketball coach John T. Reilly has announced the addition of seven student-athletes to the program. The newcomers include four juniors, two freshmen and one senior.

The seven newcomers will join five returners from last year’s squad: senior Travis Brannen, senior Danard Crouch, junior Steve Piotrowicz, junior Malcolm Woodbury and sophomore Tanner Furno.

Gannon (13-15) qualified for its third consecutive post-season appearance last season. The squad tied for third place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division with an 8-6 conference mark despite graduating six of its top seven scorers from the previous season. The Golden Knights won the PSAC and NCAA Atlantic Region championships two seasons ago.

A brief capsule for each student-athlete in the 2010 recruiting class to date can be found below.

Kelvin Agee (Niagara Falls, N.Y./Niagara Falls High School)
~ 6-2, Guard, Redshirt Freshman
~ Transferred from NCAA Division I Saint Bonaventure, but did not play last season
~ Led Niagara Falls High School to a pair of New York State Final Fours during his three varsity seasons
~ Recorded 1,043 points and over 400 rebounds during his high school career
~ Was a two-time all-tournament choice at the New York State Tournament
~ Led Niagara Falls to a 69-6 record over three seasons
~ Earned All-State first-team honors as a senior
~ Averaged 22.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists en route to being named Niagara Gazette Player of the Year and selected to the Buffalo News All-Western New York first team as a senior
~ Led Niagara Falls to a 24-1 record, a Niagara Frontier League title, a Section VI championship and a Far West Regional title as a senior
~ Scored 1,000th career point in the Class AA Far West Regional final when he had 27 points, a school-record 11 steals and nine rebounds during a victory over Greece-Athena

Stephen Battle (Waldorf, Md./Thomas Stone High School)
~ 6-5, Forward, Freshman
~ Averaged 17.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and three assists as a senior
~ Averaged 16.7 points and 12 rebounds as a junior while posting 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game as a sophomore
~ Recorded 17 double-doubles during his senior season
~ Reached the 20-point plateau eight times as a senior
~ Blocked 164 shots during his three years on the varsity team
~ Unanimously named Southern Maryland Athletic Conference (SMAC) Most Outstanding Player and All-County Player of the Year as a senior
~ Was a two-time all-conference first-team selection and landed a spot on the second team as a sophomore
~ Earned All-Country first-team honors as a junior
~ Scored over 1,000 points in his career
~ Is the second-leading scorer (1,115 points) and second-leading rebounder (791) in school history
~ Led Thomas Stone to three consecutive regional championships and the Maryland Class 3A title game last season

Kareem Brown (New London, Conn./New London High School)
~ 6-2, Guard, Senior
~ Transferred from NCAA Division I Coppin State
~ Led Coppin State last season in points per game (10.0) and three-pointers (57)
~ Scored a season-high 23 points at Navy
~ Added 11 points at USC
~ Transferred to Coppin State prior to the 2009-10 campaign after spending two seasons at Monroe Community College
~ Averaged 15.0 points per game in 2008-09, helping lead the team to a 30-7 record and a berth in the national tournament
~ Named to the national all-tournament team
~ Participated in the National Junior College Athletic Association All-Star game
~ Averaged 12.6 points per game as a freshman
~ Was a two-time New Haven Register All-State selection at New London High School where he scored over 1,400 points during his high school career
~ Was a three-time all-area selection
~ Named Player of the Year by The Day

Anthony Clagett (Washington D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy)
~ 6-1, Guard, Junior
~ Transferred from Allen County (Kan.) Community College
~ Led Allen CC to a 17-13 record last season
~ Averaged 12.1 points, 4.5 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals last season
~ Shot 49 percent (80-165) from the field in 2009-10

Dennis Rumph (Lake Worth, Fla./Park Vista Community High School)
~ 6-6, Forward, Junior
~ Transferred from Allen County (Kan.) Community College
~ Led Allen CC to a 17-13 record last season
~ Named to the all-conference second team
~ Earned All-Area honorable-mention accolades
~ Averaged nine points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks last season
~ Shot 49 percent (90-185) from the field in 2009-10

Kyle Servance (Laurel, Md./Reservoir High School)
~ 6-0, Guard, Junior
~ Transferred from Howard (Md.) Community College
~ Ranked among the NJCAA Top 10 in assists and three-point percentage
~ Averaged 16.7 points, 6.9 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals last season
~ Made 50 three-pointers
~ Led the Reservoir High School team in scoring and assists as a senior
~ Named team MVP
~ Earned All-Star and All-Country honors

Ramon Smith (Dumfries, Va./Patterson High School)
~ 6-3, Guard, Junior
~ Transferred from Frederick (Md.) Community College
~ Named to Region XX Division I All-Tournament team last season
~ Recorded 19 points, nine rebounds, six steals and four assists during the region championship game
~ Led Frederick to the program’s first-ever region title

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Knights Announce 2010-11 Schedule

Gannon unveiled the upcoming season's schedule today, and maybe the most compelling part of the announcement was the subhead of the press release: "Recruiting Class and Roster Changes Expected to be Announced Soon." I'm certainly looking forward to that information.

The 2010-11 schedule has very few head-turning announcements. Here are the highlights:
* Due to the NCAA's Smart Balance initiative, the Division II regular season has been reduced to 26 games from 27.
* GU opens the season with the Gary Miller Classic Nov. 26-27. The Classic field includes Northern Michigan, Cedarville (Oh.), and Daemen. Just because you've never heard of Cedarville, don't laugh at them. They've had a respected NAIA program for decades.
* The Porreco Cup is set for Dec. 29-30 with Wayne State (Mich.), Seton Hill, and NCAA qualifier East Stroudsburg.
* The remaining independent schedule is two home-and-home series with NCAA qualifier Central State (Oh.) and Urbana.
* The Knights will see the rest of the PSAC East this year as Millersville and West Chester come to town. Gannon will face Shippensburg and Cheyney on the road.
* I'm always amused by the part of the press release that hypes the PSAC West and outlines that portion of the schedule. You know Gannon SID Dan Teliski is just dying to write one year, "If you don't know who's in the PSAC West, look it up you lazy lout."
* Did I call the NCAA "Life in the Balance" initiative "Smart Balance"? Smart Balance is a delicious buttery spread which is actually good for you. Life in the Balance is NCAA administrators fooling themselves that lopping one game off the schedule makes a real difference for athletes. My error.

You guys were pretty harsh when Gannon announced last year's schedule, most of us scoffing that the Knights had to lower themselves to play Urbana and Lake Erie ... who GU promptly finished 0-4 against. This schedule seems fine to me. There appear to be no dogs on it; everybody's a respectable basketball institution. Except for Lock Haven.

Speaking of Lock Haven, tonight I stumbled across this article from earlier this year about John Wilson, Jr., the Bald Eagles dreadful head coach. Apparently he's suing the school in part because he's been given "less than satisfactory performance ratings." In 11 years the guy is 55-209 and he's never had a winning season. If Lock Haven actually had any fans, they'd be well within their right to sue him.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Miller Classic, Porreco Cup Caught In The Crossover Crossfire

The Erie Times today announced that the PSAC will play a full West-East crossover schedule in men's and women's basketball starting next season (2011-12). Currently, Gannon faces every West opponent twice and just 4 East teams. In the future, Gannon will continue to play every West opponent home-and-home plus they'll play each of the PSAC's 8 East clubs once. (Those crossover games still won't count in the conference standings, though.) If you're keeping score at home, 14 West games plus 8 East games equals a whopping 22 conference contests. Add that to the NCAA's reduction of regular season games from 27 to only 26 for all Division II schools, and that leaves just four independent contests for the Knights.

So what does that mean for the Gary Miller Classic and the Porreco Cup? Either way it's not good news. I'm thinking GU is going to have to drop at least one (if not both) of the annual events. Even if one of them survives, look for a dubious first night matchup featuring Penn State Greater Allegheny vs. Daemen in the opener and Gannon vs. D'Youville in the nightcap. D'You won't need to wait in a ticket line for that doubleheader.

And you couldn't blame Gannon for padding their schedule in that fashion. If all but 4 of their games will be against legitimate, in-region DII clubs, they're going to need those breathers on their schedule.

Last year's non-PSAC games featured Urbana twice, Lake Erie twice, Northern Kentucky, Glenville State, Daemen, Seton Hill, and Taylor. Next fall, you'll wipe one of those games off the slate completely (thanks NCAA -- all the athletes now completely have Balance In Life) and then pick four others and replace them with Cheyney, West Chester, Shippensburg, and Millersville. Not a bad trade from a quality-of-opponent perspective.

But back to the tournaments. Remember when Juan Rankin, in front of a roaring Audi throng, hit a three at the buzzer to capture the 1989 Porreco Cup over eventual national champion Virginia Union? That will never happen again. Not just because Rankin is now 40 years old and on the golf course, not the hardwood. If we're talking Urbana/Gannon in the championship game, only a crowd of 1,300 at the most is showing up. And Urbana's not going to eventually win a national championship in anything other than tiddlywinks.

So, the days of 6 or 7 feeble non-conference opponents are gone. But so could be legendary Miller Classic and Porreco Cup games, which is a real shame for a Gannon traditionalist. Somewhere Justin Walther (two-time GM Classic MVP from Pitt-Johnstown), Michael Hammond (the sharpshooting 1986 Cup MVP from C.W. Post), Lambert Shell (1990 Porreco MVP for eventual DII runner-up Bridgeport), Jamie Waller (NBA draft pick from Va. Union) and Julius Erving (if you don't know who he is, that's your problem) are feeling a little blue. OK, maybe they're not. But I am.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

GU Recruit: Stephen Battle F 6-6 195 fr.

This hasn't been officially announced yet, but the PSAC web site says Stephen Battle has signed a letter of intent to play for Gannon next season. Looks like Coach Reilly has used his D.C./Maryland connections to land the standout from Thomas Stone High School in Waldorf, MD. Battle averaged 17.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3 blocks per game, helping Stone roll to their third consecutive regional championship and Maryland state tournament berth. Mainly an inside and mid-range player, Battle hit on 72% of his free throws and made 9 3-pointers on the season. He scored double digits in all but one game and achieved double-doubles in 17 contests.

Here's how the website www.I95ballerz.com describes him: "Battle is one of the better players in Maryland, one that is getting major looks from Quinnipiac, Delaware State, St. Francis (PA), Central Connecticut and Cleveland State; many feel that even with that list he’s under-recruited. That sentiment must be respected, as Stephen can shoot, rebound, defend, pass and attack the rim -– he’s a do everything type guy. Battle, a three year starter, is taking the ACT in October, an event that may start a deluge of offers. Expect Stephen to commit around the late signing period."

These links will lead you to a slew of information on Battle:
* This link details game-by-game stats from his senior year. Looks like he dominated Westlake High, posting 18 points and 21 rebounds in their first meeting and a Glen Summors-like 26 points and 27 rebounds in the rematch.

* Battle was selected to play in the Capital Classic high school All-Star game at American University. Complete story here.

* This Washington Post video calls him "one of the area's best dunkers." Hard to disagree after watching these highlights ...

* ... or these highlights from a dunk contest video his junior season.

* Geez, this kid is a freaking dunking machine.

UPDATE: I just came across this tremendous feature article on Battle. It gives excellent insight into his incredible work ethic and defense-first approach to the game. On the surface, he seems to be the exact kind of kid -- both in attitude and athletically -- who will fit Reilly's system.

Thanks for JRD for the heads up on Battle's signing and to Jim LeCorchick at JRL Sports for many of the links above.