Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Credit Where Credit's Due

This has been a mostly disappointing season for Gannon, and several fans plus commenters on this site have taken Knight coach John Reilly to task, sometimes brutally. I hope those folks can admit that Reilly deserves 5 stars for leading Gannon to tonight's 79-71 win at previously PSAC-perfect Mercyhurst. The Lakers entered the game #3 in the region and #17 in the country, but they never led in the second half -- never really threatened, actually. If the Hurst hadn't banked in a pair of threes, this game might have been a rout.

Of course the players deserve credit for hitting 57% of their shots, including 8-of-12 from 3-point range. But Reilly should be showered with praise for orchestrating this victory. Gannon's man defense frequently bumped leading scorer Heiden Ratner away from the ball and rattled him into a 6-for-20 shooting night and just 14 points, 6 below his average. On offense, the Knights worked the ball into the post and swung the ball when the offense slowed down. Plus, when perimeter players had an opening, they frequently slashed to the basket which played a big role in Gannon earning 26 free throw attempts. And down the stretch, the Knights were prepared for Mercyhurst's press and executed their breaker flawlessly. After they broke the press, they ran clock and limited the Lakers' possessions down the stretch.

I think Hurst coach Gary Manchel helped Gannon's cause by repeatedly double-teaming the low post which led to several open GU shots. If Gannon had a dominant low-post player I could understand the strategy, but why send two guys after Clinton Springer-Williams -- who averages less than 2 shots per game -- and leave Kelvin Agee (15 ppg, 39 threes) open on the opposite wing? Travis Brannen (32 giant points) was 4-for-4 on threes because he was so wide open at the top of the key for each attempt because his man was pinching in the post. I wrote in a previous post how Gannon struggles to break down the defense, but they didn't have that problem tonight because Mercyhurst kept breaking itself down by flooding to the ball. I thought Manchel would adjust his defense after Gannon's 13-0 run to end the first half, but he kept doubling down ... and lost that bet in a big way.

In other PSAC news: IUP ralled past Edinboro, 73-72, sinking the Scots to 4-7 in the conference. IUP took the lead on a shot with 16 seconds left before Scot Danny Walsh missed the potential game winner. Where was that last week? ... Cal tripped visiting Slippery Rock, 69-68. That's not good for the Knights (4-7) as the Vulcans (5-6) stay a game ahead. How big is Saturday's Gannon/Cal game? ... As expected, gravity continues to hold us on the earth and Lock Haven lost again, this time to Clarion (5-6), 95-80. The Knights are still alive in their hunt for the postseason. And, man, does it feels good to be alive tonight!

15 comments:

  1. That's a win that shows what this team is capable of.

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  2. SAM DUNK!!! Pow
    to MC paybacks are SW--hell

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. Ewensel: I deleted your post because this is a family website. People read these posts and comments with their kids. In the future, please avoid so much swearing. Thanks.

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  5. Sure, sorry about that Jim. Need to get the blood cooled now. lol.

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  6. Jim Rocco, former Gannon player,, MCC 1st Team All-Academic two years in a row as a CHEMISTRY major (not some blow-off major like Comm Arts), Penn Hills head coach and prescient as hell!!!!!!!!

    Great win for the team and MONSTER game for Travis. They saw the deity, and his name is Brannen.

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  7. Alright, let's try this a 2nd time. A huge win tonight for the GU guys, they needed that one badly. I believe that the T that coach got early on in the 1st half lit a fire under the team, they played lights out the last few minutes of the 1st half. Felt like early on the refs were tying to make every flippin call against us. I will say this as far as the fans goes, the GU fans did a great job cheering them on tonight, for the amount of Mercyhurst fans that they did have in tonight, we were able to outyell them for most of the game. I do love the double standard that exists in respect to cheering sections, but oh well. 1 down, 3 to go. I think that was a little more thoughtout that time.

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  8. Almost forgot....congratulations to both John Leisering and Justin Shouse on their induction into the Mercyhurst HOF. Two of the finest representatives ever on the hill.

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  9. Great win ... Nice to leave the game feeling good rather than wanting to rip my hair out.

    GU finally was able to put the ball in the basket from the outside, loosening everything up. Brannen had a monster night offensively. Springer-Williams and Claggett played especially well as well. Leao was terrific for MC, but not enough.

    Let alone knocking off the 'Hurst, it was nice to play well against a good team and be able to close out the game. Gannon had 14 turnovers, but not that killer turnover down the stretch.

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  10. Well with Cal, when they play Clarion next week, assuming that we take care of Cal on saturday, we are going to need to become huge Clarion fans for that game right?

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  11. I think you could say something good about a lot of the Golden Knights tonight. Besides, Brannen's monster game, Agee had a solid defensive effort, helping harass Ratner and had time to throw in several long bombs early on. Piotrowicz had 10 pts (5-6 from the line), 7 boards, 3 assists. Clagett also had 10 points and 2 assists. Both point guards did a credible job against MC's very physical defensive pressure. Springer-Williams displayed a number of quick inside moves that should earn him more PT. Everyone who guarded Ratner (Crouch, Agee, Clagett) deserved praise for forcing him into 2-12 shooting on 3's and one of those was that lucky banker from the corner.

    All in all, a nice team win in a clutch situation. They played a little better at Clarion, but not much.

    Interesting that in PSAC West play, GU is now 1-4 at home, but 3-3 on the road. Could it be all that positive energy they get from the vocal minority, that small pack of sometimes less-than-supportive critics in the Hammermill Center plush seats that make themselves heard whenever GU screws up and/or falls behind at home? There's more to it than that, of course, but it can't help.

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  12. Ok, so discrepancy here..

    Did Brannen have 30 or 32 points?

    The stats listed him at 32, but on the final basket Sean announced "Brannen grabs the rebound and gets the quick outlet to Agee. Agee all by himself, please dunk this! But he just lays it in. Guess that would be the classy thing to do". But as he's saying this the stats updated to Brannen getting the basket and Steve getting the assist...?! Even in the post-game conference with Coach Reilly, Sean repeatedly said 30 points (so did Coach) and in the rundown of stats he said 30 points.

    I was at work so only got to listen to the last 15 minutes of the game, but I was thrilled with what I heard! Great game for the Knights and hopefully a huge morale and confidence builder!!

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  13. cc3 -- Good catch. The MC stat crew must have been so devastated that they put the wrong person down for the basket.

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  14. actually no Sean just got too excited and announced the wrong name. Brannen definitely had 32 points (every stat page says so) haha

    It's okay.. I would've been too excited to care who scored the final points too! :)

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