Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fatal Flaw?

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.


  1. I turned the game on at 3:30 and was surprised that the men's game was just about to get started. The officials did not make it? How long of a gap was there between games?

  2. (Beats head against wall) Well at least it was unlike the game at IUP where they didn't score worth a dang in the 2nd half....

  3. Unfortunately didn't get to go or listen to the game but looking at stats here's one that popped out...

    1010 Attendance

    On a free admission day?!

  4. Coachcorey

    The scary thing is that compared to usual, we had I believe a little bit better student attendance, I swear we couldn't get the students to show up if we were giving away free is sad.

  5. Right now it's a bad product.

    And apparently the citizens of Erie have better things to do with their Saturday afternoons. (I unfortunately did not...).

  6. I agree wensel. I remember going to games when I was younger and the students took up the majority of the bleachers section opposite the scorers table. It slowly diminished and when I started attending Gannon it was down to just the 2 northern sections of those bleachers. Now I can barely spot students at all!

    It's especially sad that on a day like this when it's free for a great cause, the attendance was, I'm guessing, lower than the season average!

    It's a sad sight!

  7. What ever happened to the Pep Band?? Maybe give the students $$ off coupons to Hungry Howies or wherever.
    OR if you really want them there maybe free beer in the cafeteria:-)

  8. From what I heard something about funding for the band. I don't know If they received some kind of academic assistance for doing it but their last year there was talk that there would no longer be a band because of funds.

    As for beer, no way! Some people can be such idiots at sporting events sober.. don't want to give them the chance to escalate it after a few drinks.

    Maybe provide free beer in locker room for opposing teams prior to game?! haha

  9. It's not that bad of a product, I mean the guys especially are like about 1 or 2 minor issues away from being damn good. And I have no clue as far as why NO students seem to show up, game times aren't that early. I guess my generation perfers to get drunk the night before and nurse the hangover for the following day. And I like the coupon maybe 3 games or something get a coupon for Hungry Howie's or Porky's or something.

  10. Students showed up on Saturday nights. Nobody goes on Saturday afternoons. Let's look at why these games were moved:

    1. For the convenience of a local high school.
    2. For the convenience of the attendees of the Hall of Fame banquet.
    3. For the convenience of the participants of today's pink zone event.

    Not that there'd be 1,000 students if the games were at nights, but there would definitely be more. Gannon is well within their right to move these games to benefit whoever they want, but these moves are not made for the convenience of the students.

  11. As a lifelong Gannon fan, it kills me to say that Gannon basketball is not a TAD of what it used to be. And I don't see it getting back there anytime soon. As for attendance, the program has depended on the community to support it all these years, not the students, at least not during the past 30 years or so. Most of today's regulars are the students from the '60s and '70s, when the place was always packed, who have continued to support the program all these years. Unfortunately, with the fan base rapidly aging, we're regularly losing lifelong fans, plus many of them who never missed games are now spending their winters in Florida, so you can expect attendance to continue to dwindle. To put it bluntly, there are simply not that many Gannon basketball fans left, and nothing has been done to rebuild the fan base. They need to develop marketing strategies like the Erie Otters and BayHawks, who promote their product in schools, and develop fans at an early age. The Otters had over 5,400 people at their game on Saturday -- at a minimum ticket price of $13.50 -- and the BayHawks regularly draw 3,000 or more, at ticket prices of up to $50, yet Gannon could only draw 1,000 when admission was free. And can you imagine what the attendance would have been had it not been for the special promotion? If you look around at Otters or BayHawks games, you will find the stands loaded with youngsters, with very few people over 50, but such is not the case at Gannon. And the youngsters will be coming for years. But at Gannon, the students won't even come. It's so sad to see, but unfortunately that's where we're at.

  12. Gannon Lifer: I couldn't have said it better myself.
    To anyone who points to attendance during the good seasons has to know that a strong program is one that gets a consistent following despite the record. I know that you can't force people to come to games but if you try nothing, expect nothing.

  13. As a fan of GU hoops for nearly 40 years, some of my fondest memories of games past are of contests that were held on Friday and Saturday nights. I agree that the Saturday night games would be a lot more dramatic and increase attendance. It was during GU's tenure in the GLIAC when they started playing in the afternoon on Saturdays and that's when attendance started to slip and what students did show up dwindled to a handful.

    It was my understanding that playing the Saturday games in the afternoon was a league-wide decision made for the benefit of the visiting teams being able to get home after the games at a reasonable hour as opposed to the middle of the night.

    For example, next Saturday, GU is at Lock Haven, which I'm told is about a 4 hour drive. If the game is over at say 5:15 and it takes everyone about a half hour to get cleaned up and on the bus, the team would get home around 10:00, assuming that the post-game food was brought on the bus (hello, pizza and subs). If the same game was held at 7:30, and using the same timing, the return trip would leave at roughly 10:15 and return home at around 2:30 AM. No one is crazy about getting home that late. I was told that's why they do it that way.

    Once the league decreed the game times, GU scheduled the Pink Zone and Hall of Fame events and allowed the Burger King Classic to be held at the time it was. The league scheduling the games in the afternoon drove the timing decisions, not the other way around.

  14. To Jim's point: You also hit the nail on the head. A team with 11 'grinders' and one athlete is not going to do the trick.
    This brings into question Reilly's recruiting and philosophy. Is he only going after a roster of 12 'grinders?' Is he looking for athletes and striking out?
    If he is constantly striking out, is this because recruits and their coaches know of his reputation as a coach who demands utmost conformity and little room for individual talent? I know that Shelby Chaney is not a fan-favorite here, but do you think that he went to Mercyhurst because he preferred a scenic campus? No, because Reilly tried to reign in his athleticism. Wouldn't let him try to take guys one-on-one and score, just had to pass-pass-pass.
    Superstar athletes are surely not easy to come by, yet Slocum seemed to have no problem with finding more than one yearly. Reilly found a few for two years and thats it.
    I'm going to go with Reilly having a flawed philosophy of utmost conformity. A roster full of grinders that will break their nose each game for the team. (Reilly's post game comments that GU didnt value every possession yesterday and didnt get after every loose ball are ludicrous. I do not question the heart of these players at all, they are playing hard. Diving for one more imaginary loose ball wouldnt negate the fact that IUP was that much better).
    A nice complement of grinders is essential, but not 11.
    Think Reilly doesn't like everyone being just the same? Take a look at his coaching staff. Three main assistants that sport bald heads and drill-sergeant intensity.
    The GU guys arent training to be Navy SEALS, they are trying to play basketball. Since I don't see a change in coaching philosophy, I don't see a change in results.

  15. To Gannon74: found this old email.

    Sports Information Department, Dan Teliski, Director
    Phone: (814) 871-7418
    Date: August 30, 2010


    ERIE, Pa. - Gannon officials have announced a change in the start times for two basketball doubleheaders this upcoming season.

    Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) twinbills against Lock Haven (January 15) and California (Pa.) (January 22) have been moved to afternoon starts. The women’s contest will begin at 1 p.m., followed by the men’s game at 3 p.m. both days.

    The Lock Haven doubleheader has been moved to the afternoon to accommodate the Burger King Classic later that evening at the Hammermill Center. The California (Pa.) twinbill has been moved to clear time for Gannon’s Hall of Fame Banquet scheduled later that evening.

  16. Gannon74 -- The GLIAC had the mandatory Saturday afternoon rule, largely because teams would play Thursday / Saturday trips and it was to get them home.

    The PSAC has no such rule. Gannon can schedule Saturday games whenever they please; Gannon chose the Saturday afternoon game times, as Jeremy showed above. The February 26 game against Clarion is an night game, unless Gannon finds something better to do with its time. Maybe Asbury Elementary School will need the HC on Saturday night and GU will move the Clarion twinbill to the afternoon.

    What would the Otters' attendance be like if their games were in the afternoon. I bet it wouldn't be close to half of what they get on a Saturday night.

  17. I mostly agree, except:

    1. Jim, isn't GU already running a motion offense?
    2. I put Agee with Battle. In fact Agee seems very Pierre Howard like in his game...maybe a better long range shooter and not quite the defender that Howard was...he is also only a redshift freshman. He's not done (if he stays around that is).

    Also let's not forget about athletes who don't have b-ball skills (Marcus smith immediately comes to mind)

  18. Well, if the league isn't decreeing that the Saturday games be in the afternoon, why is it that they all are?

    I'm guessing it's probably a reciprocal agreement among the AD's that "we'll hold them early if you do too". That way, the players can get home earlier.

    For example (and this obviously wouldn't apply to games between GU, Mercyhurst, and Edinboro). if Gannon schedules Lock Haven at 3:00, the LH players get home at 10:00, and when GU goes to LH, the same would apply. No one wants to be traveling until 2:30 in the morning if it can be avoided.

    Otherwise, why wouldn't GU schedule all their Saturday games (since they know, like we all do, that the crowds would be better) at 7:30 or 8:00? And, the Burger King Classic could be rescheduled to a Saturday when GU is on the road (as it has been many times before), so just drop that idiotic argument. Quit thinking so robotically and ask yourself what makes logical sense when you ask why.

  19. The schedules for the big-time high school teams are made well in advance, as is the PSAC schedule. It's already determined that Gannon will play at Cal on January 14, 2012 and GU host Clarion on January 21, 2012. The 2012 BK Classic is likely set already as well.

    All league Saturday games are not in the afteroon. Turn on AM 1400 at 3:00 p.m. on February 19 and you won't hear the Knights. But turn it on at 7:00 and you'll hear Gannon at Cal. And the week before, Mercyhurst plays at Cal at 7:00. Apparently, Cal doesn't bow down to the will of the high school teams.

    Gannon used to play teams from Philly and NYC on Saturday nights ... Gannon used to play at Philly and NYC on Saturday nights. I think that everybody survived the long trip home.

  20. The afternoon games are inconvenient for many reasons
    1) some people work Saturdays (especially with the way the economy is.. people are thrilled to work weekends!) 1st shift and you're just getting out when the game should be starting; 2nd shift you're just going in at the scheduled start and 3rd shift you're probably just waking up.
    2) TV games. During college football season, many of the marquee matchups are on at 3:30 PM or so. I know several people who will give up the Gannon D2 basketball game to stay home and watch their beloved Penn State or Pitt Panthers or Fighting Irish play in the national spot light. During college basketball, same thing. A lot of the "big games" are in the afternoon.
    3) Family. If someone has kids that participates in sports, regardless of what sport, they most likely have a Saturday afternoon games. Whether is the youth rec YMCA basketball or soccer, the MYAA basketball leagues, the biddy ball leagues, any of the several Family First programs, etc. I guarantee you they have a handful of Saturday afternoon games. Also, for those who don't have work or family events on Saturday, many will use that as the time to spend with their loved ones. Watch a movie, go to a movie, go to dinner or go watch a sporting event. And when it comes to picking it... I think most families are going to hold out of the D2 bball scene and splurge a bit to go see the "professionals" of the BayHawks or Otters.

    These are just a few of the, what I believe are, most obvious pointers in why attendance on Saturday afternoon games is lower than other games. Pretty much anything you can think of is a legit reason, but regardless... the 5:30, 7:30 twinbill was much better in my eyes.

    I also miss the more entertaining lineup announcements with the lights off and the pumped up music in the background. This added to the dramatic scene of the night sky barely letting any light into the windows.

  21. A lot of good ideas to help att. I only hope the powers that be will heed some of these ideas. I especielly like the one about a Sports Marketing Director. I've been wispering it for quite some time. All I heard back is "money".

  22. To Jim & Jeremy's points: It's about time somebody told it like it is. A team of all "grinders" will not get it done. The reference to Shelby Chaney is excellent because he's certainly not the only athletic player who has left the team early due to constraints and other "differences" with the coaching philosophy. By my count, at least 24 players have left early in the past six years which is absolutely unacceptable and unheard of in any college program at any level. You never see our coaches huddle during a time out to discuss strategy. They stand aside and one person does all the talking. It's my way or the highway..and that's a trip a lot of athletes have taken... the highway.

    I'm proud of all the kids on our team because they all play very hard. I will never give up on Gannon. However, I agree with Jeremy's conclusion...unless there is a change in philosopy, there will not be change in results.

    As far as attandance is concerned,I do think that afternoon games are a factor for all the reasons listed above. But it's not the only factor that attendance is down. Gannon is not the only game in town....anymore.

  23. During the 07-08 and 08-09 seasons, were not the stands packed at the Saturday afternoon games?

  24. No they were not packed for the afternoon games. There were larger crowds than there are now, but nowhere near packed (unless it was a big game like Findlay, GVSU). The only packed afternoon game I remember was I believe the first Pink Zone game. It was elbow to elbow. Other than that, it's been a pretty meek showing.

  25. You're all missing the crux of the problem. Read my post above. The problem IS NOT afternoon versus evening games -- attendance is dwindling because we're losing loyal members of the rapidly aging fan base for whatever reason -- be it loss of interest, wintering in Florida or the obvious -- and they aren't being replaced by younger people. The problem is in the big picture, not that one aspect of it. For example, check the attendance at the Mercyhurst and Edinboro games this and last year versus those games from five, ten and twenty years ago -- which have always been in the evening. Then, also check the attendance at afternoon games from five and ten years ago, when Gannon was in the GLIAC, versus afternoon games now. Include the pink game in your check, as attendance at it too is unfortunately declining. In all cases, you will see a noticeable decline, be it afternoon games or evening games, or traditionally bigger drawing games like Mercyhurst and Edinboro. Makes no difference -- the problem is that Gannon is rapidly losing fans, mainly because of aging, and nothing has been done to replace them. So sad to see, and it kills me to say, but that's the situation here.