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!