Gannon's 2010-11 regular season is off to a grand start after an 84-71 whipping of Cedarville in the first round of the Gary Miller Classic. After the game I couldn't help but look waaay ahead with excitement to the 2012-13 season. Yes, I know that's totally jumping the gun -- thinking ahead 2 years after just 1 game -- but the quality performances of GU freshmen Kelvin Agee (17 points, 7-for-13 FG, 3-for-7 3FG) and Stephen Battle (13 points, 6 rebounds, 6-for-8 FG with one of them a resounding slam) was the highlight of the evening for me.
Agee has a smooth stroke plus athleticism, isn't afraid to shoot, and can even finish inside. He worked hard on both ends of the floor all evening long, harassing Cedarville's leading scorer Matt Harner into a 5-for-17 shooting night. Battle is strong with two pogo sticks for legs. He frequently skied above everyone else on the floor to grab rebounds and contest shots. He even hit a 19-footer from the top of the key and showed a decent mid-range jumper. Two years from now, Agee and Battle will be juniors while Tanner Furno will be a senior. That's a pretty good nucleus to build a program around.
It will be interesting to see how Gannon's 8-man rotation performs Saturday night in the championship game vs. old GLIAC foe Northern Michigan (3-1 this season despite being outscored by their opponents 300-295). Both GU and CU were dragging down the stretch in tonight's game, and I'm sure the Knights will be sore at shootaround tomorrow. I don't care how hard they've been practicing the last few weeks. There's nothing quite like the game's intensity ... and the morning after.
Other thoughts on the Gannon/Cedarville game:
* Of course the Knights weren't perfect, but they looked like they were in control most of the game, executing their motion offense and rotating correctly on defense. Last year, especially in the early season, everything was helter-skelter. I thought guards Steve Piotrowicz, Kareem Brown, and Anthony Clagett did a nice job handling the ball and making sure the Knights got good looks.
* How about I've already mentioned six guys who played well for GU, and I haven't even talked about the solid evenings by seniors Travis Brannen (15 points, 6 rebounds, 7-for-12) and Danard Crouch (8 points, 5 rebounds, 3-for-3 FT, and just 1 TO). The 8 who played for the Knights looked like they will compete in the PSAC this year.
* This was the first-ever game I've attended with my Droid smart phone and, to quote former GU broadcaster Steve Bohen, "Wow!" does that enhance the game experience. I logged onto the live stats for the game periodically to stay updated on the details of the game.
* Because of that, I was stunned when I saw in the final stats that the Knights outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 38-30. I know when I looked at some point in the second half, GU was being outrebounded by 5. They really dominated the boards down the stretch.
* John Reilly is a really classy guy. I shook his hand before with game -- with just 7 minutes left in warmups -- and he engaged me in a conversation about my family, Bud Elwell, Bob Dukiet, and this year's team. He's clearly focused on winning, but that doesn't interfere with friendships.
* Speaking of classy coaches, I was told that former GU boss Jerry Slocum, whose Youngstown State Penguins are off to a fast 3-1 start, drove in to Erie today to pay his respects to the family of Bud Elwell at Brugger funeral home.
* I have a really sweet Northern Michigan long-sleeve T-shirt in my closet. Should I bust it out for the championship game just to mess with some people?