Sunday, August 15, 2010

Reilly, Gannon Hoops making headlines

Kudos to John Dudley of the Erie Times for this mid-August story on John Reilly and Gannon basketball. The story appeared on the front page of the Sunday paper. The following is an excerpt from the piece. (I won't copy-and-paste the whole thing fearing that the Meads, Cuneos, and Bob Jarzomski will track me down, string me up, and then beat me senseless with a heavy typewriter for violating their copyright.)

"It might be August, typically a down time for college men's basketball, especially at the Division II level. At Gannon, though, where men's basketball is king, and where there is a full-time, independent blog devoted to the school's marquee athletic program, there really is no offseason.

"'That's a positive,' Reilly said last week of the year-round interest in his team, even if some of that interest takes the form of blind speculation, Monday morning quarterbacking and straight reporting of plain old bad news.

"'I think it's great that people care that much about us,' he continued. 'I also think that not everybody really understands everything that we're dealing with on a day-to-day basis.'"

I'm thrilled that Gannon basketball is making headlines in the middle of the summer. If I have an ulterior motive with this site, it's to make sure that interest in Gannon Hoops doesn't wane. Cheering fans packing the Hammermill is the best-case scenario, booing fans are second best, and apathy about your program is by far the worst.

I'm glad that Reilly sees it that way, too. He was a positive influence on my life, and, to be honest, I feel twinges of remorse when a website that I started is the platform for people to call him some form of a meathead.

And how about Gannon Hoops getting some street cred from Dudley? As we've talked about the past couple months, Internet sites like this are really nothing more than a nitwit at a keyboard speaking his feeble mind. Your ongoing commentary makes the site what it is today. Thanks very much for your time, your interest, and your comments. Apparently, lots of other people are watching what we do.


  1. Good call. I thought that the Dudley column was a very fair assessment of the entire Gannon situation. He lent perspective of how Gannon's issues aren't terribly unique to Division II or to college basketball in general.

  2. Jim, enjoyed the linked pictures.

    It was good to see that story in the ETN today. I agree that more athletes today do have a selfish mentality. Unfortunately, Dudleys piece doesn't address the other side of the coin: Whether coaching is also part of the reason for so many departures. He cited this unnamed NCAA study on transfers, but that 40% is spread out across all of NCAA. I would bet Mr. WalkslikeJordan's scholarship that few if any schools have such a concentrated percentage of departures as at GU. Edinboro and MC don't have that turnover. Findlay and Grand Valley didnt in the GLIAC, and those are two pretty respected schools.
    Id like to see an interview with George Johnson, James Bryant, Anthony Simmons, Shelby Chaney and the dozens of other guys who left early. Id like to hear their side of the story. Noone is 100% to blame, but this story made it sound like an old guy complaining about " those darn kids these days."
    I noticed the line by Dudley about some bloggers expecting more Kyle Goldcamps, most likely in reference to an earlier post of mine. I know that talents like Goldcamp are hard to come by. But what I meant was that we need more guys of good character like Kyle, not clowns like Mr WalkslikeJordan.

    Glad to see GU in the ETN in August. Would also like to hear from those players...

  3. I felt that article pretty much summed up most of the questions I had in regards to departures. It, to me, said that Coach Reilly wouldn't stray away from his style of coaching to statisfy a player. Yes, you can say that coaching is then the reason. But I would say the 56 wins in 2 seasons speaks otherwise.

    The biggest example is when Coach Reilly was talking about George Johnson's departure. "I probably spent more time with George Johnson than anybody else, not always in terms of basketball, but in terms of the academic side of things. It's definitely disappointing, but there are certain things we're not going to budge on -- work ethic, class attendance and so on. I can't sell myself out. I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror every day. I know in my heart I tried to help him, and I hope he does great."

    There are certain things they won't budge on -- nor should they! If one players is slacking at practice or in the classroom, I don't care if it was Michael Jordan's protege, you don't cut them a break. I loved George; awesome person and ball player. However, he maybe felt he was privileged to treatment different than others; and we know that isn't going to happen! (nor should it!)

    As far as Findlay's "turnover" rate... look at how many Division 1 Senior Transfers they bring in. Of course their rate wouldn't be as high. Same with GVSU. Also, look at their location. Findlay ends up getting alot of the players that just weren't good enough to make the big schools like Youngstown State, Dayton, Akron, Cleveland State, Ohio State, etc. but they want to stay "local". GVSU gets alot of the players that just weren't good enough to make Michigan State, Michigan, Detroit, etc. When we get players who had D1 interest, it's schools like Canisius, St. Bonaventure, Buffalo, etc. Yes, those are big name D1 schools in their own respect, but not in basketball so much as they used to be.

    You have to take in all possible aspects of the situation...

  4. While I agree that seeing a lengthy article about GU hoops in the ETN in August was nice, I don't think the article really said all that much. Most ardent GU fans were pretty much up on what was going on, personnel-wise, and had been aware of the stats regarding student-athletes transferring. Would've been nice to see how the transfer rate for non-athletes compares to that of athletes, but I guess you can't have everything.

    It WOULD be very interesting to hear what the departed players have to say, and I agree that neither side is 100% to blame. Unfortunately, I don't see how you'd even be able to find any of these kids (except for Johnson, and I'm not sure he'd paint an accurate picture, anyway). Who knows where (if anywhere) the rest of these guys are going to end up.

    One potential problem that just hit me regarding this coming year's team is where the leadership is going to come from. Of the 5 returning players, only Brannen and Crouch will be seniors, and, while Crouch isn't likely to play that much, Brannen doesn't strike me as the leader type. Furno is a sophomore, so he's likely not a candidate, and who knows if Woodbury will play at all. That leaves Piotrowicz, and he's likely to be a reserve at best. Can you leader be a part-time player or do you make a newcomer, a juco transfer your leader, your captain? Yikes.

  5. Brannen will be the leader. You have to see this kid practice... great work ethic, hustler, goes above and beyond what he's asked to do... hands down, he's this year's leader. I believe that even if Crouch only plays 3 mins a game he's still a leader. I look at it just like in professional baseball; the team has a veteran that is a back-up and is almost solely there to teach the incoming player(s). I can see Crouch doing that. Then, if it doesn't work out right, he's in.

    Former players who departed:
    these are official
    George Johnson - Augusta State
    Anthony Simmons - Xavier (LA) NAIA
    Filmore Bouldes - Missouri S&T

    Jerrell Sanders, is rumored to be going to Ferris State (he also has Ferris State Athletics on his facebook page as a "page I like").

    James Bryant was rumored to be going to August State with George Johnson, however, I've heard nothing recently about that.

  6. Jerrell Sanders is at Ferris State. He was with the team last season, but not actively. He was never listed on roster and he never suited up. It is not known if he is actively with the team this year, however, he is still enrolled and has been working out with the team.

  7. If you want to see how its done every player on the Findlay team that went undefeated came in as freshmen not one transfer. When you have over twenty players leaving with elgibility in five years there is definitely a problem. I do not know what the problem is but you are never going to build a program this way.

  8. Bob, we've been over this before. Again, that can be done when you've had a long successful coaching career to create the credibility you need and a fan base that isn't panicking and suggesting you be fired any time you're not in conference, if not national, championship contention for one season.

    Neither Coach Reilly nor will ANY Gannon coach ever have that luxury. The impatient amongst us insist on success now, and that wouldn't possible here from day one if you bring in all freshmen. There would be at least 2 years of sub-.500 records (maybe way sub-.500) before things would start to turn around. By the time that 3rd year got here (assuming everything went well and no one got injured or flunked out), there's likely be a either a new coach or a desperate one.

    Unless you're willing to accept some bad teams for a couple years, it can't happen here. Quit dreaming.

  9. Gannon74: I am not dreaming and I am a season ticket holder since 1965. I have seen many coaches come in and none have had the turn over or three loosing seasons in thier career at Gannon. Jerry Slocum came in never had a loosing season. Granted he never went as far as the 30-4 year but no one ever called him up and asked him if he would like to have the best center other than Glen Summers we ever had. Throw in two Erie kids who ran into problems out of town and came home and thankfully came to Gannon and not Mercyhurst or Edinboro. Take those three out of the mix and tell me what kind of year that would have been? I want to see some stability in our marque athletic program. I am proud to be a Gannon grad and not happy to have people from other schools saying "what the h&&& is going on with that basketball program?" All I want to see is kids come in play hard and walk out with a Gannon degree. Sure I want to win and when you see programs like Findlay (which I do not think has any more to offer then Gannon)do it I feel we can do better then we are.

  10. Bob, I, too would like to see Gannon have a program where they bring in 3 or 4 freshmen a year (and only freshmen, eschewing jucos), continue here for 4 years, creating a perenially successful and stable program.

    However, you know as well as I do that there's no way that Gannon can do that at this point. The Coach would simply not survive the 2 or 3 resulting drastically bad seasons (in a best case scenario-it could take longer) that would result if he tried that. He already tried that in his second year, and you saw the results-a 9-18 season and a fan base that had Coach Reilly all but fired.

    Besides, the game of D-II basketball has changed. With the possible exception of Findlay (despite your constant harping on their program, they are the exception these days, not the rule, and they are coached be a guy who has been there forever and has had great success), the contending teams all have jucos and older kids, not freshmen, getting the bulk of the playing time.

    Ask yourself this question: Are you willing to accept a 5-21, then a 11-16, then a 13-13 season without calling for the coach's head? If you are, fine, let's go with all freshmen. But, I don't think you'd be willing to accept that, and I'd be safe in saying the vast majority of long time GU fans wouldn't accept that, either.

    The old ways aren't possible anymore. The world of D-II hoops has changed, and hoping it will change back IS dreaming.

  11. Gannon 74: I did not say that I want all freshmen. I only use that example because John has said you cannot be successful today with freshmen after his secong year. I said I want kids to come stay and graduate. I know enough about basketball that you need to plug in a juco or a transfer (d1 or d2) to fill a void or if some outstanding talent comes available and wants to tranfer in you take him.(Goldcamp) I remember Tom Chapman saying " If you bring in a juco or D1 drop down and they are not going to start you just wasted a scholarship" I think that theory was very evident last year. Looking at this years recruits we may be facing the same problem again. I hope not.

  12. Bob, that's a very good point. But you also have to look at the flip side of that:
    Dave Wilson (juco non-starter)
    Alfonso Scandrett (D1 transfer non-starter)

    They both thrived as reserves on our Elite teams. Yes, Dave made some spot starts and Alfonso started a good part of his senior year, but when the games mattered they both came off the bench and chipped in their part and then some. I know these are only two people, but if they can do it, why can't these others? These kids can't possibly think they are the ONLY transfers on the team...? Thus they can't think they're automatically going to be starting. If they do, then they're useless from the get-go.

    As everyone has been saying, it's a matter of getting the kids into the program and then seeing what they do. A kid may be a standout at some JUCO, but he may come here and not gel with the rest of the team; no one could have predicted that prior to the practices.

  13. gannon74: you are operating on at least a half dozen faulty premises:
    1) that an all freshman team automatically equals a 5-21 season. UNC had a very young team this year and yes they struggled but played .500 ball. Its not impossible to do better than what you suggest.
    2) that we would have an "all" freshman team. plenty of older players would mix in there. Having a good young core mixed with veterans is the best model.
    3) An all-freshman team didn't happen in Reillys second year, as you claim. There was a senior center in Truskauskas and a number of other older players. And the team stunk.
    4)You misstate the fans qualms here. Noone was upset with last year because we didnt make the Elite Eight again. We were upset at the revolving door of players, clearly giving the program a bad reputation.
    5)You say that Coach could not survive 2 or 3 drastically bad seasons. Were you around for the 05-06, 06-07 and 09-10 seasons? Reilly has had more disaster seasons than positives. Again, no one party is completely to blame, but I'd like to think that the Gannon administration is seriously going to look at the state of the program INCLUDING the coaching.
    JUCOS arent the worst thing, but you should only have 1 or 2, not revolve the team around them. And if you have JUCOs, dont mismanage them as badly as this staff has done.
    6)Finally, Findlay is not the only program that enjoys consistent success. Another example sits south on Rt. 99. Though the Scots struggled last year, Edinboro always finds a way to win under Walcavich. A classy guy who treats his players with respect (and who actually wears a suit to the games, but we won't get into that here).

    coach corey: wilson and scandrett were part of teams that had more talent up front, so they were bench players. And what happened when the starters left last year? Zo became a starter. JUCO guys could accept being role players when they see a good team in front of them. Not when football running backs play in front of them.

  14. Jeremy: That's besides the point. Wilson and Scandrett were JUCO and D1 transfers who sat the bench. I don't care if they were playing behind Kobe Bryant or James Bryant. The statement was made that bringing in JUCOs or D1 transfers to sit the bench was a waste of scholarships.

    I do agree with most of your other statements. The part about Edinboro though.. they've had some pretty bad seasons in the past 10 years. They may have beat Gannon in those years, but they still finished miserably. So that I don't totally agree with it. And Reilly had an EXTREMELY YOUNG team his second year. Mostly freshmen and sophomores.

    The only other disagreement I have is the attire of coaches. I think it's hilarious when coaches where suits or dress shirts and ties. They are not CEOs or Executive people; they are coaches. They do not have to wear executive clothing. A polo, khakis or nice pants and dress shoes is fine. I like Coach Huggins' attire; always wearing the windbreaker jacket. Coach Knight with the plaid sweatervest. That is what a coach should be wearing. They don't need to impress anyone with their clothes; they need to impress everyone with their players/team.

  15. Arguing isn't any fun. For me, at least.

  16. Sorry, Jeremy, I thought everyone would be able to figure out what I meant, but now I see I will have to be more specific. I meant all freshmen RECRUITS, as in no JUCO’S or transfers, not a team made up COMPLETELY of freshmen. C’mon. As for my “flawed premise” about the performance of a Gannon team with all freshman recruits, let’s assume that all the players that were brought in this off-season were freshmen. You’d have 2 seniors, 2 juniors, and a soph. The rest of the team would be frosh. Do you seriously think that team would do that much better than somewhere between 5-21 and 8-18? Seriously?

    And then you compare Gannon’s ability to draw players to UNC’s? All I can say is that your thinking that supremely-talented hoopsters are going to flock to GU as they do to UNC is the epitome of a flawed premise.

    As for the reaction of the GU fan base, particularly the long-time season ticket holders, they have been down on Reilly since year 2 (All I heard was “He’s in over his head”. I even had one tell me right before the start of Year 3 that Reilly was gone NO MATTER WHAT happened that season). Many jumped back on him last season after the 1-3 start. I spoke with at least 3 others late last season who explicitly indicated that THE RECORD, not the player situation, was so unacceptable that Reilly needed to be replaced.

    Speaking of Year 2, I did a little research, and although I don’t have the exact class years, there was, I believe, just one senior, one junior, 5 sophs, and 4 freshmen. Again, I’m not positive about all those class sizes, but it is still an example of a VERY young team, and their 9-18 record is similar to what I’d expect of a similarly-structured team now. And you know how that season went over.

    I’ve been going to games since the mid-60’s as well, so I was around for the seasons you mentioned. They were indeed dreadful, but I think there were good reasons for the first 2. The first season, Reilly was never even announced as coach until mid-May, which simply isn’t enough time to start a successful team. In Year 2, he made the mistake of assuming that GU fans would be patient with a young team. Obviously, he was badly mistaken.

    As for last year, you have to ask yourself why a coach that prides himself on the character of his players recruited so many players that didn’t appear to fit the blueprint.

    Look, I’m not saying that Reilly shouldn’t be questioned. Quite the contrary. I AM saying that recruiting ONLY freshmen, as Bob suggested in his original comment (and has since backed off) is just unrealistic in GU’s current circumstance.

    I never thought I’d see someone on a GU blog defend Edinboro, of all teams. But, although I don’t care enough to do the research, I’m relatively certain that Coach Walcavich has brought in MORE than his share of juco’s. As far as his wardrobe, I rarely see him in anything other than a shirt with rolled-up sleeves, a lowered tie, all topped off by a sweater vest. Hardly something you’d see on Pitino or Calapari. As far as Coach Walcavich’s “class”, the next time he gives Gannon some credit when he loses to them will be the first time. Enough said.

    By the way, Bob continually refers to Findlay as the model for how GU should run its basketball program, which is why we were talking about them. But I’d hardly consider Edinboro in the same vein as Findlay in any way, shape or form. Their success rate isn’t even in the same stratosphere, and the way their program is conducted isn’t close, either. That’s not even debatable, and I can’t believe you made the comparison.

    As far as GU’s coaches mismanaging jucos, there may be some validity to that argument, but at the same time, there is an equal share of blame on players whose effort level, work ethic, commitment to the team, and discipline left plenty to be desired.

  17. Im a former player and I wish I had the chance to be interviewed

  18. Before using Findlay as some sort of poster school, do some research.

    For the upcoming year they have 2 transfers - one for DI Robert Morris, and one from UMASS Lowell - a standout and team leader..

    And going back further you would see similar transfers, 1 or two a year that played and had IMPACT.

    Also a little analysis would show that there is far greater competition for players in this area, and Pa in general than in Ohio, take 79 South to Pittsburgh and count the schools...As well as fewer players...

    A good mix is a good recipe... but sometime it is not all that rosy.

    Finally, trying to sell the Audi and the facilities is not as easy as it used to be.

  19. I enjoy it when people complain about a coach's attire. As long as a coach is winning, he could show up at the games in a ripped "I'm with stupid" T-shirt and a grass skirt and everyone would love him. Cleve Wright could have coached every game last year in a chicken costume, but as long he still won 37 games, we'd have been willing to overlook it.

    But dress a little out of the ordinary and then lose a bunch of games ... uh-oh... let's get on the coach about the game attire ... not wearing a suit is a sign of being lax. It's an outrage!

    By the way, I'm also a former Gannon player. You can't prove that I'm not.

  20. Golden89 - I'm glad someone has the same opinion about attire that I do. Who cares what he wears?!

  21. While it is not a neceessity to wear a suit and tie, I think it looks more professional and adds class to a program. I know all the yeas and nays of each but I would expect a coach to set the pace and dress sucessful for a classy and sucessful program. I've even complemented Cleve personally, but hey that's me.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. BTW

    What kind of Freshman contributors has Rielly been able to get:

    let's look back at his first class:
    Brandon Altman... stiff... but was a "Double Double" machine for Mary Washington
    Wil Johnson ... stiff
    Marcus Lemon... ??? did av 8 pts and 4 reb at Philly "TEXTILE"
    Albert Varacallo? - WTH?

    Maybe we start questioning his ability to scout talent, but please that first class wrecked freshman for him,

    But wait, last years class wasn't all that bad, Furnomania, Simmons and Bouldes (highly regarded but 5'9" was generous and dibilitating at this level.)

    This years addition of Agee and Battle - two kids to develop to add to the mix in the future...

    Transfer guards to replace what really was the weakest portion of last years play - not nec by reputation or ability...

    As to earlier people who think Reils is short on big men... remeber the realtiy is he runs Princeton's/Dukiet's 4 man motion...

    finally - players make plays, if they don't find some who will
    And as John Cheney said: "I can bring them in, they want the scholarship then - but when they have to start waking up to get to practice, they do not always buy what I am selling anymore. And they knew what they were getting into when they signed.

  24. BMOC - perfectly said. *applause*.

    John cheney quote reference is great!

  25. the quote was from his book..

    I always thought that it was interesting about the 6 AM practices, also most people didn't realize he had a high turnover rate...

    I love the comparisons to major D-I's... like the chuckle head who compares GU to NC.. talk about delusions of grandeur!

    If you talk to some of the old guys, they talk about coming because of the old MECC... a trip to New York every year was something some of those kids never thought of, with time off to go into the city and play... it was a great recruiting aspect... going to Cal, Indiana (PA, and clarion, do not quite match up

  26. Ohhh....when do we get the "updates" for 2010- 2011 on the website?

    School HAS started after all, if they are coming they should be here by now....

    Final registration was last week...

    I know, I know, gettting a little anxious

  27. Actually, school starts Wednesday.

    The team supposedly met Monday and had an Open Gym. I'm told that there was no one there who "Walks Like Jordan" Big surprise, eh?

    Nice try, though, whoever it was that originated the Soders scheme. Might've worked if you hadn't tried so hard to convince us with all that braggadoccio and posts from others endorsing the guy AND if Mr. Soders had played somewhere LAST year.