Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Reading List

I've never exactly understood summer reading lists. If it's nice outside, I'm going to do some activity in the sunshine, not plop myself in a chair to read a book. I can do that anytime. But if you are one of those folks who insists upon summer reading, here's some material to help you out:

1. "Some coaches in the PSAC are worlds apart" Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
You've got to love when a newspaper article starts like this: "When Indiana University of Pennsylvania men's basketball coach Joe Lombardi steps on the court for his team's game against Mansfield next season, he will be making nearly $65,000 more than his counterpart, Rich Miller." I mean, how crummy does Rich Miller feel? And how geeked up will he be if Mansfield knocks off IUP next year? When the coaches would shake hands after the game, I'm sure Miller wouldn't say anything, but you know he'd be thinking it.

You also have to love this passage from the article: "Asked about the pay difference and about being the highest-paid coach ($136,837) in the league, (Cal football coach Joe) Luckhardt laughed and said, 'My wife's not disappointed.'" We're still talking about money, right coach?

2. "Fired Bethune-Cookman coach refused to aid in rape case involving son" Daytona Beach News Journal
While reading the Erie Times this morning, I saw in the transaction section that Bethune-Cookman fired its basketball coach yesterday. I thought to myself, "Why would a coach get fired 3-4 months after the season ended?" Well, you can read the headline, and if you want more details you can click on the story. It gave me some perspective that we shouldn't get too exorcised when Gannon's biggest problems are missing the playoffs and roster turnover.

3. "Univ. of New Orleans to introduce Mark Slessinger as men's basketball coach" NOLA.com
Who in Erie gives a rip about the University of New Orleans hiring a basketball coach? I don't either. But what's interesting about this is that New Orleans is the first school I can recall that's stepping down from Division I to compete on the Division II level. According to the UNO athletics Wikipedia page, lingering effects from Hurricane Katrina sparked the decision. Side note: the Wikipedia page lists the UNO school song as, "Let's Hear It For UNO." With them dropping a division, I wonder if they'll rewrite the lyrics that say, "Our Privateers will march on to fame."

4. "Terry Smith new Finlandia Men's Hoop Coach" Upper Michigan's Source
I'm not sure who else besides Steve Bohen (sorry, Steve -- that was the only photo of you I could find online) and me will read this article, but Terry Smith was a big deal in the GLIAC when he coached Grand Valley from 1997-2004. He left GVSU under unusual circumstances in May 2004 and then coached at Hart High School (Mich.) from 04-07. In 2005, he was named associate head coach at GLIAC rival Northern Michigan, but never followed through on that commitment for family reasons I believe. This guy is like the Larry Brown of small college basketball.

5. "5 Things You Need to Know About Matt Tobin Day" Hopatcong Patch
You need oxygen. You need water. You need food. You don't need to know anything about a day dedicated to an East Stroudsburg basketball recruit. But I do recommend you read this article also from the Hopatcong Patch titled "5 Things: Large Pizza, Extra Jesus." Tremendous. You can tell by the photo they're having a rollicking good time, and things are about to get completely out of control.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Reacting To Gannon's Schedule

Gannon announced its 2011-12 men's basketball schedule today and here's my first-blush reaction after reviewing the press release and the actual schedule:

* Of the 26 games, 22 of them are against PSAC schools. You knew it was coming, but it was still kind of a letdown that there will only be 4 independent games. I always liked when the schedule came out and included a couple head-scratchers (Penn State Greater-Allegheny in February? A home-and-home with Lake Erie?). Now knowing 85% of the opponents before the schedule is released takes away most of the mystery when it's unveiled.

* Quoting the release, "The PSAC passed legislation during the off-season that created a schedule with full crossovers. All 22 contests against PSAC opponents with also count in the regular-season standings. Every school will play a home-and-home series against teams within its division and a single game against every team in the other division." November basketball will still be ragged, but now it's got the postseason riding on it. With all the changes on this year's Gannon team, the Knights better have an excellent summer and preseason or they'll be playing from behind in the standings all season long.

* Gannon starts the season on the road at East Stroudsburg and at Kutztown. I'll be the first to ask: when's the last time the men's basketball team started a season 0-2? UPDATED 6/23/11: A Gannon fan just emailed me a reminder that in 2009-10 the Knights lost their opener to Urbana (73-43) and followed that up with a dreadful home loss to Lake Erie (59-45) in the first round of the Gary Miller Classic. I think I might have actually repressed those memories. Thanks for opening old wounds ...

* GU's first four conference games are all on the road. After the Stroud/Kutztown trip (Nov. 19-20) and the Gary Miller Classic (Nov. 25-26), the Knights head back East to Millersville and West Chester (Dec. 3-4). So three weeks into the season, the Gannon bus will have logged about 1,500 miles. I'm glad we left the GLIAC's brutal travel schedule behind!

* The Gary Miller Classic includes Pitt-Johnstown (18-10 last year, lost only 1 senior), NAIA Daemen (14-15 last season), and NAIA Roberts Wesleyan (21-14 a season ago). Not an eye-popping field, but not a dreadful one either. I'm guessing Gannon will play Daemen in the opener, but don't quote me on that.

* I'm fired up that former GLIAC foe Grand Valley will be part of the Porreco Cup. GVSU has really come on in recent years, establishing themselves as one of the premier hoops programs in the Midwest. I'll be kind and say that the other Porreco contenders -- Seton Hill (10-20) and Malone (18-13, NCAA DII transitional program) -- didn't fire me up quite as much. Side note: I don't want to start a copyright infringement war here but holy moly does Malone's pioneer logo look an awful lot like Robert Morris' Colonial logo. Maybe they're just cousins.

* The best news of all is that now we can begin the countdown to the Gannon hoops season opener. Just 152 days until tip-off!