Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blunderful Victory

Two parts to this post:

Part 1: Wednesday's 71-67 win over Seton Hill in the opening round of the Porreco Cup had its share of errors. Most obvious was that Gannon needed Kelvin Agee had to catch fire down the stretch to produce team shooting charts of 14-for-28 on free throws and 7-for-20 on threes.

But in my view the most egregious error of the contest was made by Seton Hill coach Tony Morocco during the final minute of play. After a turnover by SHU's Kellen Holmes with 44 seconds left, Morocco had a quick decision to make: with his team trailing by 3, should he foul immediately or play normal defense in hopes of getting the ball back for one final game-tying shot? In most games, I think the strategy has to be to foul quickly and stretch the game as long as you can. With the way the Knights were drop-kicking -- er, shooting -- free throws Wednesday, the obvious choice was to foul and just make sure you get the rebound.

Instead of choosing one those two options, Morocco got swept up in the emotion of the game and chose neither. The Griffins overextended their man defense but didn't foul, leaving the basket wide open for Agee's game-sealing layup with 15 seconds left. There were a ton of mistakes made by players on both teams prior to that point, but I really felt like the Seton Hill coaching staff blew it by not being prepared for that final minute. And I hope you don't feel like I'm being a Monday Morning Quarterback (or in this case Thursday Morning Quarterback). Once Gannon's Anthony Clagett came up with the loose ball with 44 seconds left, I looked up at the clock, did the math to see Gannon could hold the ball until the 9 second mark, and said aloud to myself, "Foul. You gotta foul."

Part 2: That was a great gut-check for the Knights and Agee last night. One of the many things I love about the game of basketball is that momentum and the mental factor is so important. The Knights had many chances to fold yesterday -- especially when trailing by 6 with less than 6 minutes to play while only amassing 53 points by that juncture in the contest. What had been a consistently productive offense all season was sputtering, frustrating everyone in the building who wasn't rooting for Seton Hill. (Side note: There were exactly 4 people in the Hammermill rooting for Seton Hill.) Instead of imploding, Agee hit a three, the Knights got 4 stops and 4 scores over the next 6 possessions, and the Knights advanced to the Porreco championship. It wasn't a thing of beauty, but it showed this team has mettle. That's more important that one night's shooting percentage.

18 comments:

  1. This is the game that Jones missed the wide open layup... then the whirlwind downfall began!

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  2. Coachcorey, I cracked up when I read your line because when I clicked on the comments, I planned on writing verbatim what you said about Jones. Nice kid, but he didnt belong out there on the floor.

    Top three things I will look for with these two upcoming games:
    1) Will Kareem Brown become a bigger part of the offense/team?
    2) Is Tanner Furno healthy enough to continue his improvements?
    3) Will the solid defensive efforts against Urbana carry over and become the norm again?

    As for the Salem International girls, they are just trying to make the Lock Haven men feel better about themselves...

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  3. I forgot that it was this game, until I clicked on the link to the boxscore and saw Jones 0-1 in like a minute of play. I was like "ohhhhhh yeeaaahhhh". Yeah he was a real nice kid, but totally agreed with you. He's not even at Gannon this year... even for football. Maybe the football coach was even ashamed? (just kidding!)

    What is wrong with Tanner?

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  4. 3 things at this point

    1) I know Kareem gets bashed on here a lot for his lack of performance, but I gotta give it to him that he gets flat out unlucky. He had 3 shots halfway down and pop back up. Also he's a tremendous hustler and albeit hustling doesn't win games he is a big playmaker and a setup guy.

    2) Did GU not practice any foul shots or layups during the layoff? Holy cow, this is ridiculous!

    3) women lost by 18. Thompson didn't play a minute... What's up with that?

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  5. Whew!!
    The lay-off isover.
    The real GU team needs.. er better show up against Wayne State.

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  6. Shows you what can happen when you only play 5 games through the end of December. Need a better schedule next year, this is ridiculous. And how about the crowd? 924 -- that is terrible -- has the lack of basketball at the Hammermill caused everybody to lose interest? Sure, the students are off, but they're always off for the Porreco Cup, and that has to be the all-time lowest attendance for a Gannon game in the Cup.

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  7. I know of a bunch of people (at least 13) that weren't in attendance due to either their childrens elementary bball game or a hs game. I know that's only 13, but I'm sure others had similar conflicts. Also you'd have to figure many are on vacations still.

    Regardless of crowd, we were loud and at the end of the game it sounded like standing room only.

    I agree I don't like the schedule however Dan did list very good facts of how it's similar to others or, remarkably, better than others. Also, with the NCAAs "Division 2 Games aren't Important" philosophy the only way to really have plugged more games in wouldve been to pretty much rid us of both tournaments and schedule 4 non-conference games somewhere in there. Albeit I'm not a fan of the "dead zones" I'll take the tourneys over regular non-conference games because we'd probly end up playing Penn State Imitations all 4 games.

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  8. team looked very flat...little or no movement on offense. Same performance tonight will result in a VERY lopsided loss. Kareem Brick oops er Brown better start throwing up 500 a day at practice.

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  9. Jim- I totally agree about Seton Hill's decision (or indecisiveness) to not foul early on in the final minute of play. Another error I felt that was made that could have cost us the game was Agee taking the ball to the hoop with 3+ seconds left on the near-breakaway. When he started dribbling in and he saw the guy coming to foul him, I felt, he should have quickly turned and dribbled back out to avoid the foul and most likely run out the remaining 2.9 seconds on the clock. With the way we were shooting free throws (or lack-there-of), I did not want to see them go to the line. However, we won - so I'm now ok with the decision (haha)

    I also have to agree about Gannon have mettle; more exactly Kelvin Agee. Dreadful shooting night (does anyone know what exactly he was trying to do on some of those 'layups'? There were times he looked like that 5th grader on the 5/6 grade team who's touching the ball for the first time and, since he didn't pay attention in practice, had no idea what to do with it), but when it mattered the most he hit the shots. That was one of those games that had we went 5-80 from the Free Throw line.. all 5 foul shots would have been made in the final minute to win the game.

    I also liked the "boost" Furno gave the team for stints off the bench. IMO, Battle should remain the starter. After watching Furno last season and for the beginning of this season, he appears he may be one of those players that just, for whatever reason, plays better coming off the bench. Also, I think Battle remaining as a starter would be an obvious confidence builder for him. Even if Furno plays more than him, Battle should be the starter. Another advantage that could have for Furno is it would allow the coaches and him to see who he'll be up against and for them to "strategize" on how Furno should play them. He's not going to be a bruiser like Husted or Goldcamp, but he could very easily be a 10+ppg player with the right strategies and matchups.

    Looking forward to tonight's games. Actually think I'm heading down early to watch the consolation game. I wouldn't mind seeing Seton Hill trample ESU by about 30 to give me the, what could be, false hope that Wayne State's blowout victory was more on the shoulders of ESU. But both games should be real good.

    Prediction - Agee & Brannen on All-Tourney team. If GU wins, Agee is MVP (unless someone else steps up huge tonight; really I think Brannen has the only other shot at it).

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  10. Also agree that SH should have fouled earlier and extended the game. Everyone in our section said that at the time. Even if GU had been shooting better from the line, that would have been the proper strategy.

    Can agree that Battle should be starting, but I really don't see what "boost" Furno is giving them at all. They need to play him, but he seems slow, he is consistently pushed all over the court, he flails at the ball instead of catching/controlling it, he doesn't shoot the ball well at all and he doesn't seem anywhere near as explosive as he was in spurts last year. I can't believe that 15 lbs slowed him down that much. Could he be hurt?

    The team as a whole seemed to be dragging last night. Assuming SH observed the NCAA-mandated week off, the difference in the energy level was very noticeable. GU was slow getting back on defense all night (how many times was Piotrowicz back by himself vs a 2-or-3 on one?), stood around on offense a lot and let's not even discuss the shooting.

    Now, it could just be the layoff, or could it be the way GU practiced upon returning? I was told last night that they had 2 practices Monday, 2 more Tuesday, and another Wednesday. Guessing all that work could lead to dead legs.

    Try as you might, you cannot make up for a week's worth of lost conditioning in 2 days. IMO, gradually building up a team's conditioning would lead to a better response, unless Coach Reilly is not as concerned with the Porreco Cup as he is with conference games next week.

    Lastly, all the emphasis that Coach has been putting on the impact of the layoff may actually be hurting even more than the layoff itself because it may be giving the players a built-in excuse (subconsciously) for being tired and/or out of sync. Coupled with perhaps a little too much practicing, it can lead to the sluggishness we saw Wednesday evening.

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  11. In most cases, I agree that I don't want Furno anywhere near the Audi. However, last night, (in different stints), he came in and provided a good boost when Battle started slumping. His reverse layup in the first half started a 6-1 streak for us (I know 6-1 isn't really anything huge, but last night a basket was a great streak). Also, in the 2nd half, he had some big rebounds that led to GU baskets.

    I'm not saying these plays are his "comeback", just that I liked what I saw last night in stints.

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  12. Just got this note from Dan Teliski - interesting data:

    What happen last night at the free throw line? I am working on the game notes for tonight and realized all four teams struggled at the line last night:

    East Stroudsburg 9-19
    Wayne State 12-25
    Seton Hill 10-17
    Gannon 14-28
    Total 45-89

    That’s 51 percent for the four teams combined and no team shot better than 59 percent. I’m just the numbers guy and not the x’s and o’s guy, haha. but I’ve never seen four teams do that in one night. Just thought it was interesting.

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  13. Tonight I will wear a hat and there will be no "reflection in my eye" excuse. Ha ha

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  14. CC3 - Don't want Furno anywhere near the AUDI ... seems harsh. I do think he plays very good low post defense, which is dear to coach R's heart.

    I have heard he has injuries to both ankles and his right shoulder. Ankle injuries could be effecting his quickness.

    G74 - Agree, coaches have been pushing lots of practice including a 2 hour practice today. My guess they will look tired tonight.

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  15. Watching him attempt to box out most of the time is harsh. The kid needs about 20 more lbs to not get knocked around every game.

    Also, I think it's somewhat funny that people are again bringing up the practice issue. Coach Reilly has always ran long multiple practices in a day...
    and that's usually when the kids are still in class. At least now they've had off so I don't see how 4 hours of practice a day can really be a huge factor right now. If it was in semester and they were conference games 2-3 times a week then I'd be more willing to oblige.

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  16. Most of us are quite aware of Coach Reilly's philosophy of scheduling practice. I understand the logic of practicing longer and more frequently when school is out.I understand the logic (keep the kids busy and active, take extra time to "polish up" your offense/defense or add new wrinkles) of doing that. I don't agree with it, but I do understand it.

    However, after having 7 days off, diving right back into practice with lengthy two-a-days and intense game day workouts followed by games is guaranteeing fatigue and inviting injury. Near the end, I saw a lot of the players (Brown, Clagett, Piotrowicz, Battle) gimping slightly and bent over. I sincerely hope no one suffered the kind of injury that often results from doing too much too soon after a layoff. Anyone who exercises regularly and had to stop for a short period knows what I mean.

    Luckily, GU was able to get away with more frequent substitutions leading to more-than-typical minutes for the bench. A great win delivered by Reilly's signature defense. Hopefully, all hands will be available at 100% on Monday evening.

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  17. I'm glad Furno was in the Audi tonight, 12 pts and 5 rebounds against a senior and athletic post player. IMO what coach R needs from him, 15 pts or so and 5-7 rebounds and his typical good defensive play. And I'm sure he would love the addition of 20 lbs. of bulk. I have plenty of "bulk" that I would love to give him!

    Great team defense tonight, fun to watch.

    G74 - I'm okay w/ 2 a-days. I don't get intense practices game day.

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