Saturday, March 26, 2011

Knights Crowned National Champs!

This was the day we've all been waiting for -- the Knights won the Division II national championship today in Springfield, Mass. Too bad it was the Bellarmine Knights from Louisville and the GLVC.

Other thoughts and facts for you to ponder:
Bellarmine won the title, but can Gannon make a case for being the best team in the nation? Check out this series of events from this season:
- Bellarmine won national championship (3/26)
- Ky. Wesleyan defeated Bellarmine (2/19)
- Indianapolis defeated Ky. Wesleyan (2/12)
- Urbana defeated Indianapolis (11/20)
- Gannon defeated Urbana (12/16)

If Gannon gets off to a slow start next year, here's one reason not to panic. BYU-Hawai'i, who narrowly lost to Bellarmine in the DII final today, started its season 5-4 before catching fire to finish 17-8 in the regular season.

Butler advanced to the Division I Final Four today. During the Bulldogs current 13-game win streak, they've defeated the following teams/coaches/conferences: Florida/Billy Donovan/SEC, Wisconsin/Bo Ryan/Big 10, and Pitt/Jamie Dixon/Big East. Who is the last coach and team to beat Butler? Jerry Slocum and Youngstown State on Feb. 2. If you don't believe me, watch the game highlights here.

According to the Williamsport Sun Gazette, the three finalists for the Lock Haven coaching job are former LHU and IUP head coach and current Penn State assistant Kurt Kanaskie, Shippensburg assistant coach Mike Nestor and Goldey-Beacom head coach Chuck Hammond. Kanaskie is the only guy I recognize. He was Lock Haven's head coach for 3 years, IUP's boss for 8, and then coached DI Drake for 7 seasons. You have to love this line from Kanaskie's Wikipedia page: "Under Kanaskie, Drake posted the two worst records in the history of the school, 2-26 in 1996-97 and 3-24 in 1997-98. During those 2 seasons, Kanaskie was 0-36 in Missouri Valley Conference games." My guess is those details were left off his current resume. Then again, they might be a selling point if Lock Haven wants to continue its losing tradition. UPDATED 3/30/11: Mike Nestor has been named Lock Haven's new head coach. Click here for details.

UPDATED 3/30/11: Longtime Findlay coach Ron Niekamp announced his retirement this week. Thanks to Gannon Hoops follower JRD for this link to the article from the Findlay newspaper. Kudos to Niekamp for consistently winning with class (which is infinitely more valuable than simply winning). The GLIAC rivalry I missed the most was Gannon/Findlay. Even the losses were doozies.


  1. Jim: Watching that game I think we are about 3 1/2 players short of competing with either of those two teams.

  2. I watched most of the game, and I was amazed at how poorly played it was, at least as far as the at-times foolhardy pace at which it was played and the inordinate number of unforced errors by both teams. The defense was below average most of the time as well. This was particularly true in the West Liberty-BYU-H semi-final, but it was true in the final as well.

    Another example of how poorly the game was played and the crazy pace of the game was the scoring and shooting percentages. At the half, Bellarmine led 47-43, and they shot 56% from the field to BYU-H's 48%. But in the 2nd half, both sides got pretty much the same good looks(the defense wasn't significantly better), but possibly because the players from both sides were so fatigued from the breakneck pace of play that Bellarmine shot just 27% in scoring 24 points to BYU-H's 25 points on 25% shooting.

    The other major difference I noticed was that the game was almost exclusively played on the perimeter, with very little posting up by the big men and little post play in general. It was almost solely either transition game, or passing the ball around until someone threw up a jumper from 15+ feet (each team took 25 three-pointers).

    Not denying that GU doesn't have the same talent level as any of the teams I saw play in Springfield, but neither are the Golden Knights using a style or pace of play that resembled anything I saw there, either. Has the game changed at the highest level of DII play so drastically that GU needs to change their focus from the interior game (both in scoring on offense and defensing the opponent) to more of an exterior game (take more 3's and make more of an effort toward defensing the 3's)? Can't see Coach Reilly changing, but, after seeing the teams that made it to Springfield, should he?

  3. Gannon74: If you want an answer to your question just look at the Kansas VCU and the Kentucky North Carolina. VCU 12 of 25 Kansas 2 of 21 Kentucky 12 of 22 North Carolina 3 of 16 from 3 point range. You need at least three players that can hit the three over 40% of the time to compete in todays game. I am not saying you do not need an inside game but without the outside you have no inside.

  4. A cannon shot or a good flush, they seem to get the crowd a pumpin' more than anything else.

  5. If I were Brad Stevens and I wanted to focus my team, I'd show up to practice in a penguin suit to remind them that they lost to Youngstown State.

  6. Butler seems pretty focused to me without having to resort to such silliness.

    Look at it the other way-maybe the Butler players are allergic to or afraid of penguins (if they lost to YSU with THAT team, that is one logical explanation). Then, you'd be risking a relapse.

    I think it's a bad idea all around.(TFPIC)

  7. Jim,
    Any chance that you can use your pull with Coach Reilly to talk with him for a season wrap-up Q&A to be posted on the blog? Just a few questions on what he thought went well, what went wrong and what to expect for next year? I know that he’s a busy guy but I’m sure the readers would like to get his perspective now that we are a month removed from the season. Just a thought.

  8. Jeremy...great idea!

    Jim, I second this if possible.

  9. Jim, A season wrap-up and next years outlook would be great, both the Mens Team and the Girls Team.

  10. Bellarmine has some impressive stats 170 more assists than turnovers a ratio of 1.4, Gannon had more turnovers than assists. As a team Bellarmine shot 40% for threes, Gannon 33%. Free throw 77% vs 70% and total fg % 52% to 46%. Gannon is few players short to compete.

  11. Without checking the stats, I'll take your word for it, bb.

    I didn't check the roster, either, but I'm guessing Bellarmine didn't start 2 freshmen and a sophomore. Did they have 6-7 new players join the team this past year? Doubtful.

    Have some patience. Many on this blog have expressed the desire for GU to build a program using freshmen instead of depending so heavily on JC transfers. It takes more than a year to build a team in that manner. If everyone that contributed and will still be eligible comes back, they placed a solid foundation this past year. Now they need to find a couple more pieces to the puzzle.

    Sorry, but it's simply not that fair to compare the 2 teams at this point in time. The 2 programs are simply not in the same stage of development.

  12. FYI-I went back and checked the Bellarmine roster, and they started 3 seniors and 2 juniors.

    As opposed to GU, that started a senior, a juniot walk-on (both of whom were in their 2nd year at GU), a sophomore, and 2 freshmen.

    I think that makes a big difference, IMO.

    Let's see how things develop. If kids start leaving again, well... But I prefer to stay positive until it's time to do otherwise.

  13. Yes I am one of those who would like to see a program built primarily with freshmen. You say be patient but John is starting his seventh year and had he started with mostly freshmen seven years ago we would be reloading and not rebuilding by now like a Findley. PS did you read that Ron Niekamp announced his retirement it will be interesting to see who gets that job and what they do with it.

  14. Bellarmine also beat Xavier, who beat Butler.

    Care to draw any more absurd conclusions from that?

  15. Bob, way to keep beating that dead horse. For the millionth time, you posted-

    "You say be patient but John is starting his seventh year and had he started with mostly freshmen seven years ago we would be reloading and not rebuilding by now like a Findley"

    I know, I know, you're absolutely right, but that water is over the dam. That horse is out of the barn. (Fill in your tired cliche here).

    GU's situation is what it is. What good is it to look back, wishing that things have been done differently? If Reilly hadn't loaded up with JC transfers when he did in Year 3, he would no longer be the coach here, and you know it. The "big hitters" in the season ticket base were already calling for his head in the middle of Year 2, when he WAS trying to build with freshmen. He did what he had to do to save his job. Who wouldn't?

    You CAN effectively argue that some years have been wasted, but GU had 2 really good ones in there, too.

    Reilly started to intersperse more freshmen with JC's this past year and 2 of them started. A sophomore he brought in the year before also started. Hopefully, he will continue that trend until we have a mixture of different classes and we all get our wish. But for now, even if your premise is correct (and I agree with you that it is), pining away about what SHOULD have been done years and years ago isn't doing anyone any good. Why not look forward, think positive, and hope for the best?

    Bob, I just thought of another alternative for you: If you are that big a fan of the Findlay program (and it sounds like you are), you could always move there and follow them as closely as you'd like, seeing how perfect they are in your mind. It'll be interesting to see how they do now that their very well-connected coach is retiring.

    Think positive!

  16. G74 I am having a difficult time understanding how it is different when Bob and I say Gannon is a couple of players short and you say "they need to find a couple more pieces to the puzzle"? How is that different? How does that show any lack of patience or not being positive on my part, when you are essentially saying the same thing?

    What is the problem comparing Gannon to other Division II programs? If gives you a sense of where the program stands.

    Findlay was 166-23 over the last 6 years 88% with a National Championship.

    Bellarmine was 125-58 over the same time frame 68% with a National Championship.

    Gannon was 105-67 61%.

    Lock Haven was 30-127 19% (even when I give them credit for the 12 wins, they ended up forfeiting)

    Ernst the assistant coach for 20 years, was named the new coach at Findlay. It will be interesting to track their performance over the next few years.

  17. I'm not saying GU has the players they need. I agree that they need to get better talent. Where did I say otherwise?

    Here's what I WAS trying to say-

    On the comparison to Bellarmine, a comparison of Bellarmine's stats to GU's was made and I stated that an upperclassmen-led team like Bellarmine SHOULD have been better than a GU team starting 2 frosh, a soph, a walk-on junior, and a second year senior. GU is a developing team while Bellarmine is more of a finished product. Of course, their stats are better. How do you deduce from that that I think GU has the players they need?

    As for my other point, I was trying to say that I too would prefer that GU's team be built primarily with several underclassmen coming in each year with the occasional JC transfer to fill a need here and there. However, when Reilly chose to go the primarily JC route with the wolves at the door back in Year 2, he broke away from that theory to save his job. We all enjoyed 2 years of prosperity. Now, Bob keeps saying

    "John is starting his seventh year and had he started with mostly freshmen seven years ago we would be reloading and not rebuilding by now"

    which is absolutely correct. However, Reilly didn't do it that way. You can't go back and change that now and sitting here whining about what shoulda and coulda been is a waste of time. It's OVER. Give it up! That was my point. Has nothing to do with GU having the players they need.

    As far as patience and being positive, that also was directed to those whining about what SHOULD have been done. Reilly brought in 2 frosh last year and another 2 years ago who are all now starting. He's doing what we want him to do, but expecting them to play on a par with Bellarmine this past year isn't realistic.

    Have patience and be positive as Reilly hopefully adds more pieces, primarily freshmen(though he needs to find someone who can score in the paint, even if it's a JC) and see what happens.

  18. Former GU Coach Jerry Slocum was on the Jak and Zak show on 1330AM this morning (or a tape of him) talking about "how to beat Butler" since he was the last coach to do so.

    Kind of cool hearing him on a national platform.

  19. Congratulations to Herb Magee for his entry into the Basketball Hall of Fame! Well deserved ... I give him credit for never bowing to the big jobs because others told him that he should take them. He did it his way.

    And I can say that I threw toilet paper (and a few Whopper boxes) at a hall-of-famer.