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.