I think I might have discovered the core reason this Gannon team has struggled to a 10-9 (2-6 PSAC) season thus far. IUP helped exposed this flaw during their 73-58 win at Gannon Saturday.
There's a big difference between a basketball player and an athlete. Excellent basketball players have game-related skills such as ball handling and shooting touch. Outstanding athletes have these four qualities: so quick they can dribble by their opponent frequently, leaping ability to soar over most opponents, strength to push their opponent around, and speed to beat their opponent to a spot on the floor. The Gannon team that advanced to the Elite 8 a couple years ago had several players on its roster who were that unique blend of top-notch basketball player and athlete: Joe Lindsey, Pierre Howard, Tyler Stoczynski, and Kyle Goldcamp. Subs like Dave Wilson and Alphonso Scandrett might not have been the most skilled, but they could do a lot of the athletic things I mentioned above.
IUP boasts many player/athletes on its roster this year: F Darryl Webb (#15), PG Kevin Stewart (#3) and G Ashton Smith (#30) are the best of them. That's why they advanced to the Division II championship game last year. With their blend of skills and athleticism, they can compete with anyone in the country. And when they meet a team like Gannon, which I believe lacks outstanding athleticism, they coast to double-digit victories.
If you don't believe me, start listing the guys on the Gannon roster who are both tremendous players and athletes. I stop after Stephen Battle. Kelvin Agee has great skills, but he rarely blows by someone off the dribble. Anthony Clagett has the ballhandling skills and quickness to take his man to the basket, but his shooting stroke isn't All-American quality. Tanner Furno can run in the open floor, but as we saw yesterday, he still struggles to post up because of his lack of strength. Steve Piotrowicz is strong, hard working, and can handle the ball, but he's not going to soar over anyone or create his own shot consistently. Travis Brannen is pretty strong and has a good stroke, but inside he isn't able to jump over and spin around anyone to give himself an automatic basket inside. Danard Crouch may be the fastest guy on the team, but he's more of a defensive stopper than a multi-faceted scoring threat.
I'm not saying this Gannon team is a bunch of stiffs, but it really stood out yesterday why they so often struggle to score in stretches, especially against a truly gifted team like IUP. Try , try, try they might, this team just can't dribble by their defender consistently enough to get easy shots (and not turn the ball over). Tough thing about this weakness is what can you do about it? I guess you can get a couple quick blow-by-their-defender guys for next season and your post players can hit the weight room. Or you can install the Princeton offense which relies totally on ball movement and very little on dribble penetration. But none of those are short-term answers. I guess you just hold on tight for the rest of the season and do your best with what you have.