Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Knights Announce Recruits & Returnees

Gannon officially announced the first portion of its 2011-12 recruiting class Wednesday via a press release from the school. Faithful readers of Gannon Hoops weren't surprised to read the names of newcomers Adam Blazek, Brandon Belt, Dmitry Martynenko, and Anthony "T.J." Wilson. Just click on any of those links of you want the skinny on those four new Knights.

What was most interesting in the press release is that it clarified Gannon's 8 returnees for this year: senior Steve Piotrowicz, senior Malcolm Woodbury, junior Tanner Furno, junior Clinton Springer-Williams, redshirt junior Darrell Blanton, redshirt junior Alvin Tucker, sophomore Stephen Battle and redshirt freshman John Eisenman. Notably absent from that list, thus confirming their leaving the Gannon program, are Kelvin Agee, Anthony Clagett, Dennis Rumph, and Ramon Smith. Add them to the depressing and expanding list of one-year wonders at GU. Personal note: You can add Smith (10 points) and Rumph (2) to another list -- Knights who actually scored fewer points than me (14) during their Gannon career. Hey, there is a silver lining to the dark cloud of player turnover hanging over the program!

So if I'm doing this right, here's Gannon's current depth chart based on incredibly thin data:
PG: Piotrowicz, Blazek
SG: Belt, Tucker
SF: Blanton, Wilson
PF: Battle, Springer-Williams
C: Furno, Martynenko

So what else do the Knights need? That's John Reilly's call ultimately, but I'd be looking out for potential superstar freshmen (the GU roster already has 2 seniors and 5 juniors) who could redshirt or a superstar Division I transfer at any position. I also don't see an obvious backup for Battle at the power forward either. I threw the 6-foot-4 Springer-Williams there because that's mostly where he played for GU last year, but he produced only 2 ppg from that spot. Then again, Battle averaged about 35 minutes a game during the second half of the season, so a backup PF isn't really Gannon's biggest need.

The press release also said, "Additional recruits are expected to be announced following the start of classes in early September," so we'll have to rely on rumors and scoops for the next couple months.


  1. Let's hope there are additional recruits TBA. That lineup looks pretty weak to me

  2. they need a center. Furno cannot and should not be at the 5 spot... He is much better suited at the 4 so he can play off the ball and not right under the hoop all the time. As well as it fits Battle better at the 3. Their best lineup last year was when they had Steve (PG), Agee (SG), Battle (SF), Furno (PF), Brannen (C).

    So I'd like to see another big guy to go with the new kid from (Russia?!). And let Furno play the 4.

    Disappointed to see Claggett go... was that a known possibility? Or is everyone as bit as shocked as I am? As well as disappointed...

  3. BEERMAN: Might be a little presumptive to say the team looks weak when it includes 5 guys we've never seen play.

    COREY: Clagett's leaving wasn't a shock. That rumor was floating around when the schoolyear ended. But I agree with you that it's a big disappointment.

  4. Jim, your probably right, I just see PG:WEAK, SG:MAYBE, F:MAYBE, PF:SOLID, C:MAYBE.
    Anyway most of them probably will only be here a year anyway.

  5. I'm sure there are more recruits on the way. I agree that right now, things don't look the way they should, but this is still a work in progress. Besides, Jim is right-there are a bunch of kids we haven't seen play. We were in the same boat last year, and Battle and Agee were impressive. Way too early to judge yet.

    As for Clagett, I heard that a couple of the other kids who left were his best friends on the team, so when they left, so did he. He will be missed, as he was a good player who was improving nicely, but his less-structured style of play didn't match what Reilly seems to want from the point.

    Corey-I think the big Russian kid looks like a 5 to me. Except for a backup, I'm not sure what else you expect. I have heard that there is one on the way.

    Jim-Hate to argue with the blog author, but you might have some of the players at the wrong positions. I understand that, although he stands just 6'3", the Blanton kid is a leaper who does his best work at the PF (I was told to be prepared to be pleasantly suprised), and Battle's best spot is probably the SF.

    Beerman-have to disagree with your assessment of the point. There might be a lack of depth and experience at the backup and Steve is never going to be confused with Chris Paul. However, he has two years of experience now, is solid with the ball, plays smart and hard, his assist to turnover ratio was almost 2 to 1, his 3 point shooting % was the best on the team, and he is good at getting his teammates where they need to be at both ends of the court. He should also be a lot healthier this year, as he played hurt all last season, I'm told. Despite his inexperience, you may be surprised at Blazek's strength, defense, and court sense. While I wouldn't consider PG the team's strongest position, I don't think you can rate the position weak. Average to slightly-above average, but NOT weak.

  6. I've also heard another 6-8 kids is coming.

  7. Should be "kid" as in one more big.

  8. Gannon74...weak might have been a little strong. I will give you that he plays hard...wasn't meant as a shot at Pio...guess he's not what I would like at PG...think he would be great off the bench.
    I will restate my position....After reviewing incoming(reputation) and returning players... PG: weakest

  9. gannon74 - the russian guy is def a 5... and we need a backup to him or a starter if he will be a backup... dont want Furno as the 5 (as Jim listed Furno as the starter at the 5 and the Russian as the backup).

    So what I expect is Furno NOT to be at the 5 spot.

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  11. I NEVER said I HATE him or any other kid. And I resent you stating that. I don't care if he's from Prep, McDowell or any other local school that’s High School BS. If he was very good and from Iceland that would be fine with me.
    I'm SO SORRY that I have a different opinion than you. I like what he brings to the team, I just see him more suited to coming off the bench.
    Next time I make a comment I'll be sure I check with you so we are all of the same mindset. So I guess I'm just IGNORANT !!!!!!!!!!!

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  13. Not hate, "hate on". It is a term that means make a disparaging remark about. Sorry for using an unfamiliar reference.

    I was assuming you wanted to have a discussion and would provide some explanation of your position. If you just want to give an opinion without explaining why, that's alright, too. My mistake.

    Again, my fault. I should have known better.

  14. Congratulation to Steve and tanner for:

    "... have been named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Honors Court released Tuesday afternoon.

    The NABC Honors Court recognizes the talents and gifts of student-athletes off the court, and the hard work they exhibit in the classroom. In order to be named to the Honors Court, a student-athlete must meet a high standard of academic criteria. In addition to being a junior or senior varsity player with at least one year of residency at their current school, he must have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.2 or higher at the conclusion of the 2010-11 academic year.

    Furno produced a 3.80 cumulative grade-point average while majoring in Mechanical Engineering. A two-time academic all-conference selection, Furno averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds last season. He played in every game, starting 16. The 2009-10 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division Freshman of the Year shot 54.8 percent (68-124) from the field and 72.9 percent (35-48) from the free throw line.

    Piotrowicz owns a 3.39 cumulative GPA as a Sports Management and Marketing major. Another two-time PSAC Scholar-Athlete, Piotrowicz averaged 7.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 2010-11. The Erie, Pa., native played in 25 games, starting every one. He ranked sixth among PSAC players in three-point field goal percentage (42.5). Piotrowicz shot 75.9 percent (41-54) from the free throw line while producing a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio."

  15. First a rumor then some responses ...

    RUMOR: I haven't confirmed this with anyone, but there's a rumor circulating that a player who suited up for a PSAC club last year wants to transfer and play for the Knights. I have no data beyond that, but we'll keep our ears open.

    GANNON74: You're right. Toward the end of the year, Battle played the three more than the four. He was on the wing rather than the high post. Good call.

    I also agree with your assessment of the PG situation. Piotrowicz isn't spectacular but he's solid. Former GU PG James Bryant was spectacular, but John Reilly's system needs more ball control. That's a nice way of saying the PG needs to not turn the ball over and score on occasion. But job #1 is to not turn it over.

    BEERMAN: Tying in with what I just said, Piotrowicz is not weak. Respect the glue guys.

    GUBBFWLR: Yes -- congrats to Steve and Tanner!

  16. If Steve ends up being the "weakest" player in the lineup this year... I can live with that. Unfortunately, several times last year, he was not the "weakest" player and that killed us.

    I like Steve as a person and I think he is a solid "glue guy". I def don't particularly care for him to be starting, BUT as I said, if he's the "weak link" on the court... we should be okay as long as he's not bringing down everyone else (which normally he doesn't).

  17. Again....and I won't say anything else. By weakest, I didn't mean that Pio is the weakest player on the floor. He plays hard and he is a "Glue Guy". I just think he is more suited coming off the bench.
    I do however think that the position that could most use an upgrade is PG. That's why I said it's the weakest position.(not player, position)
    I think he fits perfect in the "Cory Knight" role.

  18. beerman - totally agreed.. that was my point. My other point, though, was that last year he wasn't the weakest position... Agee was sporadic, we never knew if Tanner was going to catch the ball or jump; Battle was the most consistent and Brannen, despite a few down times, was very good.

    If steve (the PG position) can be our weak position; we should be in good shape. Wouldn't mind if Steve got to be the "Cory Knight" and bring in a Joe Lindsey... but we'll see!

  19. Finally got it to work.

    I agree with Corey about Stevie P. He's more of a Corey Knight guy who can come off the bench and provide a spark rather than a starting PG who is required to handle the majority of the ball handling.

  20. Now that I'm back posting, I want to share my thoughts on the schedule that technology did not allow me to share:

    I disagree with Boze -- the PSAC makes much more sense for Gannon than does the GLIAC. Yes, we have to travel across Pennsylvania twice, but there are so many more road games within four hours of the school, where the GLIAC had Mercyhurst, Ashland, and maybe Findlay. It also makes sense for Gannon to get its name out in western Pennsylvania, a much more fertile ground of possible students compared to Michigan.

    My schedule observations:

    Not sure if anyone saw the women's schedule, but smart move by Cleve Wright to schedule PSU-Greater Allegheny on November 14. At least their first game won't count. The men can't do it -- they're tied down by two tournaments.

    Ridiculous that league play that counts starts before Thanksgiving. Some teams will be almost out of the playoffs by mid-January.

    Only two Saturday night games after January 1.

    The PSAC East teams must be ticked. They have to travel across the state rather than play CAC teams located in Philly, New Jersey, and Delaware.

    Let's face it -- one of the tournaments has to go. It gives us no scheduling flexibility. It's easier said than done, but it makes the most long-term sense.

    Our first 12 games are six pairs of back-to-back games. The back-to-back on December 9 (7:30 pm) and 10 (4 pm) is the first time in my memory that Gannon has ever played a day game the day after a night game.

    The schedule is basically the same, except that four independent games are swapped for four PSAC "crossover" games around Thanksgiving that now count. I prefer the variety of independent games. We're getting close to being the old Erie County League for football, who played the same nine games year after monotonous year after monotonous year.

    Did I mention that I hate this schedule?

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  22. Well, of course, if Coach Reilly could find another Joe Lindsey, who was lightning fast, had a great handle, could hit the open man, play great defense, and organize/lead his teammates while still possessing his own spectacular offensive game, you'd want him starting at the point. That's a no-brainer.

    Unfortunately, players who can do all that are few and far between. It's unlikely that an uncommitted player with all those qualities is hanging around some playground or junior college gym waiting to be asked to come to GU. Such players are signed to letters of intent as soon as they can be in April/May and they typically have their choice of where to play. Why would you expect such a player to come to GU with things as they are?

    It still seems to me that we at least know what the incumbent starter at PG can do, which is more than can be said for the SG, PF, and Center (if Furno's shoulder troubles continue) positions. In my book, that makes PG a far more stable position than any other except SF.

    Be careful about judging a book by its cover. For example, James Bryant LOOKED like the solution at the point, but had shortcomings in his game that relegated him to the bench. Who knows what these new, unknown, untested players can do? Hopefully, they are the next coming of Butch Warner and Gerald Walker instead of (fill in the name of your favorite disappointing GU player(s) of all time).

    Regarding the schedule, besides the critcisms that others have registered, I noticed that GU starts the league season with 4 road games. Typically, a team that is scheduled in that manner at least gets to finish the season (when playoff berths are often on the line) at home. However, GU gets the privilege of finishing with road games at Slippery Rock and at IUP, no less. Highly questionable, IMO.

  23. g74 - What's up with Furno's shoulder?

  24. I have no idea what the specific injury is or how bad it is. One of the "Gannon Insiders" kept telling me all last season that Furno had hurt his shoulder before the games even started and the shoulder was still bothering him. A couple weeks ago, I saw the same guy and he told me that the injury wasn't responding to therapy/rehab and they weren't sure what was going to happen. For all I know, that could be true or it could be old info or it could be completely bogus.

    However, if it is true, I'm guessing (note-I am GUESSING)that could mean he may not be able to play or would be limited. That's why I put that in my earlier post. Beyond that, I know nothing about it. I figured that a lot of other people knew about this if I knew about it. I'm sure someone knows more and can respond. If not, maybe it IS bogus information. After all, it wouldn't be the first time we discovered that a rumor about GU basketball wasn't true.);

  25. He did hurt his shoulder last year in the maroon and gold game - collided with Rumph. And I did hear it wasn't 100% all last year as well as an ankle injury. I'll put out some feelers and see what heresay is returned.

  26. Tanner is doing an internship at Lord's Corp this summer and told the people there that he does have a shoulder injury. He told them that he was very restricted in what he could do as far as working out. It sounded like running was about all he could do. This was to be a three month time frame then they would evaluate what he could do.

  27. g74 and Bob --Your posts are what I am hearing. After the season he had the shoulder evaluated. No surgery was indicated so it was decided to intensely rehab it four 4 months yet after doing so the shoulder wasn't improving greatly. So, he is having it re examined. He's back in Columbus and I assume to visit with his family before school starts up and to have the shoulder examined. Doesn't sound good to me since whatever problem he had did not improve much in the off season.

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