Monday, September 26, 2011

Projecting Gannon's Prime Time Players

The Gannon roster is set. But what will be the playing rotation? Only John Reilly knows. Well, actually he doesn't even know yet, but we can speculate. One certainty is that the key players will be different from a year ago. Regulars Kelvin Agee (14.9 ppg, 37 threes), Travis Brannen (11.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Danard Crouch (7.1 ppg), Kareem Brown (5.6 ppg), Anthony Clagett (5.2 ppg, 49 assists), and Clinton Springer-Williams (1.9 ppg in 23 games) are gone.

Who will share playing time with F Stephen Battle (12.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg), PG Steve Piotrowicz (7.1 ppg, 68 assists), and Tanner Furno (6.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg), if the lanky junior has recovered from a reported shoulder injury? We know it won't be Urbana transfer Robert Wilson who will redshirt this year after his former school wouldn't grant him a release and the NCAA denied Gannon's appeal.

Here's my WAG at Gannon's depth chart for this upcoming campaign. I'll take the rampant speculation a step further by predicting how many minutes each will get. Because I haven't seen 7 of these guys play, this analysis is for entertainment purposes only.
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PG: Piotrowicz (32 min)
SG: Shameel Carty (25), Oscar Macias (15)
SF: Battle (32), Alvin Tucker (8)
PF: Dmitry Martynenko (24), Darrell Blanton (10)
C: Bubby Johnson (28), Furno (12)
Left Out: Brandon Belt, Adam Blazek, Eisenman, T.J. Wilson, Robert Wilson (redshirt)

Comments:
* I feel like I need to apologize to the Left Out crew. They could be reading this and think, "What do you know about me, Howdy Doody? I'm a player!" Sorry, guys, maybe you will get tons of playing time, but right now I have to put somebody on the bench. Reilly has never rotated 13 players before and he's not about to start this season. Those in my rotation are either returnees, redshirts who practiced with the team last year, or newcomers with very impressive DI, DII or juco resumes.

* You can see I'm missing 8 minutes from the rotation. That's because I have no clue who will back up Piotrowicz at the PG position. The scholarship guards on the GU roster (Macias, Belt, and Tucker) don't seem to be PGs judging by their stats (low assists). I'm not too worried about those 8 minutes because I think Piotrowicz will be logging nearly all the PG duties; 32 mpg may be understated.

* I would imagine that 2 SGs or SFs will need to redshirt to avoid a logjam at those positions. Tucker and Eisenman redshirted last year, so I don't think they'll do that again. Carty is a senior, plus he sat out last year after three super seasons at Clarion, so I'm doubting he'd stay on the sidelines again. That leaves Macias, Belt, Blazek, and T.J. Wilson as redshirt candidates.

* I think there's an outside chance of one PF or C redshirting. If Furno's shoulder isn't 100% -- and he'd like to stay at Gannon for grad school -- he'd be the most likely candidate in my opinion. Blanton redshirted last year which leaves him out of the running. I've heard nothing but rave reviews about Johnson, so I don't think Reilly would put him on the shelf this year as the Knights scramble to get back to the posteason. That leaves Martynenko, but do you want a productive (15.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg at his juco) big man who stands 6-foot-8 serving as Gannon's biggest cheerleader? So back to what I said at the outset: a PF or C redshirting is an outside chance.

* A couple Gannon fans have commented to me on the lack of freshmen in the recruiting class (one -- preferred walk-on Blazek). Since I'm speculating on playing time, let me speculate on why Reilly may be shying away from high schoolers. At my company (Jameson Publishing), we almost never hire kids just out of college though they are the majority of applicants for our jobs. We've learned this equation the hard way: college does not equal work. College requires you to attend 15-18 hours of class a week; work requires at least 40 hours of attendance. In college, 8 AM is early; at my company, 8AM means you're a half hour late. Nearly 100% of the college kids we've hired don't make the adjustment to the professional world. You just don't know how they'll handle work. I think Riles has learned the same lesson. In high school, playing time is guaranteed, the competition is easy, mom tucks you into bed every night, and you rule your basketball program. It's a whole new game in college, and you have no idea how a kid will adjust -- especially when his coach won't ever let you take a possession off. In practice. I think Reilly will still sign the occasional Battle or Furno, both exceptional in terms ability and work ethic, but the days of an unproven freshman "class" may be behind us.

Click here for the team photo of the 2011-12 Gannon Golden Knights: Front row (L-R) -- Shameel Carty, Anthony "T.J." Wilson, John Eisenman, Steve Piotrowicz, Adam Blazek, Alvin Tucker, and Brandon Belt. Back row (L-R) -- Darrell Blanton, Robert Wilson, Dmitry Martynenko, Dytanya "Bubby" Johnson, Tanner Furno, Stephen Battle, and Oscar Macias.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Knight: Robert Wilson jr. F 6-3


Robert Wilson's feature is the last of eight -- count 'em, EIGHT -- new Knight profiles for the 2011-12 season. How in depth do we go? Well, here's a photo from Wilson's high school prom. Let's hope he looks as good in a white Gannon uniform as he does in a white tux.

I'm thrilled Wilson is joining the Knights from Urbana (Oh.) University not just because he's a proven scorer, but also because it assures Gannon won't have to play against him anymore. Here are his stat lines from last season's GU/UU contests:
12/4/10 -- URBANA 79, Gannon 70: 37 minutes, 21 points, 10 rebounds, 3-for-5 on threes, 10-for-10 at the foul line, 6 steals, and 3 assists.
12/18/10 -- GANNON 70, Urbana 68: 35 minutes, 24 points, 10 rebounds, 6-for-10 on threes. Photo evidence here.

I'm not sure why Wilson bolted Urbana for Gannon, unless it's because there's only 11,000 people in the town of Urbana or because the Blue Knights were an abysmal 9-17 last year. It couldn't be because of a lack or playing time or because he didn't get enough looks. During his two seasons at Urbana, Wilson started in all 53 games he played and saw 34 minutes of action per contest. He totaled 803 points (15.2 ppg), 468 rebounds (8.8 rpg), 18 double-doubles, 93 assists, 77 steals, and 40 blocks and for the Blue Knights. Wilson hit 45% of his field goal attempts, 40% on threes (65-for-139), and a stellar 80% of his free throws. I'm really curious to see if he has the opportunity to maintain those numbers as a Golden Knight, where it's not a given that he'll be "the man" every night.

UPDATE 9/20/11: I just received confirmation that Wilson will be redshirting this season and will still have two years of eligibility remaining. He'll play for Gannon in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. He was not given a release by Urbana and Gannon's appeal to the NCAA was denied.

Here's some more info on Wilson that you might find interesting. I promise there won't be any more prom photos:
* Last season he led UU in seemingly every statistical category -- points (15.5), rebounds (8.9), steals (42), free throw percentage (88.1%, 96-for-109) and minutes played (888).
* Ranked 22nd among all NCAA Division II players in free throw percentage and 33rd in rebounding.
* He killed more teams than just Gannon, surpassing the 20-point mark 10 times. In a 94-71 loss to Division I Kent State, Wilson registered a game high 21 points and 6 rebounds. Kent (25-12) was just two points and 12.8 seconds away from qualifying for the NCAA tournament, falling to Akron in the MAC tournament championship.
* Wilson lit up the host Pfeiffer (NC) Falcons for 27 points and 11 boards.
* Had 19 points and 6 boards at nationally-ranked Kentucky Wesleyan.
* Just weeks after the University of Indianapolis won an exhibition at Division I Tennessee, Wilson led Urbana to an upset win over the Greyhounds with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists.
* Tallied a game-high 20 points and 9 rebounds in a 75-71 home loss to Mercyhurst. Let's hope he never loses to the Lakers again.
* Notched 25 points and 8 rebounds -- plus an 11-for-11 performance from the foul line -- in a 109-105 OT loss at Central State.
* Exacted revenge on the Marauders less than two weeks later, with a 16-point, 16-rebound, 8-assist winning effort. That victory started a 5-game win streak to end UU's season.
* In a win over the GLIAC's Saginaw Valley, Wilson racked up 21 points, 11 rebounds and 4 threes.
* Wilson's hot shooting led the way to a 106-94 win over Salem International. He made 9-of-15 field goals and 8-of-9 free throws, finishing with game-highs of 27 points and 11 boards.
* In his final game in an Urbana uniform, Wilson led the way over Lourdes College with 23 points and 7 rebounds on 8-of-15 shooting from the field. In case you're wondering, Lourdes is a small NAIA school in Sylvania, OH. And if you can guess Lourdes' mascot before clicking here, I'll give you a one-arm man hug at Gannon's season opener.
* Perhaps the strangest box score from Wilson's sophomore year was this: 40 minutes, 7 points on 2-for-7 shooting in an 82-78 OT win vs. Lake Erie. Ethan Bradshaw came off the bench to lead LEC with 40 points, including a 22-for-25 chart from the foul line. I was surprised the game report didn't list three guys with the last name "Bradshaw" as the game officials.
* The biggest trend I noticed from looking at every boxscore from Wilson's 2010-11 campaign is that he's not a consistent scorer. It seemed like he was either right around 20 points or single digits.
* He did log nine double-doubles, two of them against GU.
* Was a two-time NCAA Division II All-Independent first-team selection as well as DII Independent Freshman of the Year. Those honors are nice but kind of lose some luster when three guys from 10-18 Washington Adventist (the artist formerly known as Columbia Union), are listed among the 15 best indy players in DII hoops.
* Now this honor can't be chided by even the harshest skeptic. Wilson was a member of the Urbana Athletic Director's Honor Roll and Dean's List.
* After his freshman year at UU, the Gateway News penned a nice article on Wilson, where he talks about his pro basketball aspirations.
* Took time last summer to return to his hometown to volunteer at the Streetsboro (Oh.) Youth Basketball Camp. Streetsboro is 20 miles northeast of Akron.
* Was an All-Ohio selection as a senior at Streetsboro HS.
* Twice honored as Portage Trail Conference Player of the Year and District Player of the Year.
* Holds 5 Streetsboro school records: career points (1,693), single-season points (586), career rebounds (963), single-season rebounds and single-game rebounds (17).
* This newspaper article from his high school days is highly complimentary of Wilson, using phrases like "eye-popping", "nearly unstoppable", and "prolific scorer." What I like best about the article is this quote from his high school coach: "Robert's biggest asset is how well he understands the game. He has quality players around him, and he understands how much better he can be when he utilizes the players around him."
* The only videos I could find of Wilson are pretty dated. This one from 2008 shows him dunking at the first-half buzzer. And this jittery video goes all the way back to his sophomore year of high school. The commentator says Wilson exploded for 30 points that game.
* I felt kind of weird sharing one of Wilson's prom pics earlier. I feel even weirder sharing one of his senior photos. But this LeBron-ish pose is too cool to pass up.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Knight: Oscar Macias jr. G 6-3


I'm assuming you don't know much (if anything) about new Golden Knight Oscar Macias, but I'm going to give you a quick quiz on him anyway. Which Macias-related number is my favorite:
A. 44
B. 31
C. 14
D. 3.0

The answer is D. Macias earned a 3.0 GPA during the spring 2011 semester at Triton College, a community college just outside of Chicago. Transfers from two-year schools are often branded as underachievers academically, so it's nice to see that Macias takes his studies seriously.

So what's the deal with the first three numbers? Macias racked up 44 points in a win against NJCAA Division II top-ranked Cincinnati State last season, making 15-of-18 shots from two-point range and 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Triton was 31-6 last year, winning the NJCAA Region IV championship, advancing to the NJCAA Division II national semifinals, and claiming the NJCAA national third-place game. Macias averaged 14 ppg for the Trojans, plus 4 rebounds and 2 assists a contest.

Those individual stats aren't overwhelming, but Macias is a borderline Division I talent. According to a couple sources including ChicagoHoops.com, he verbally committed to DI Chicago State in February before enrolling at Gannon. Here's how Chicago Hoops (love the name, by the way) described him: "Macias brings size, versatility, and an ability to score the basketball to the table. Macias scores the ball in a variety of ways. Macias is a player who will be able to come in and provide an immediate offensive boost. He was also being recruited by the likes of Arkansas-Little Rock, Tennessee-Martin and Texas Christian."

Here's more info you need to know on this new Knight:
* He was all-conference first team, all-region second team and selected to the NJCAA Region IV all-tournament team as a sophomore
* Triton named him team MVP and the school's Male Athlete of the Year in 2010-11
* While Gannon is saying he's 6-foot-3, the Triton roster lists Macias at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds
* He made 57% of his field goals attempts, 30% of his threes (20-of-66), and 77% of his free throws over 33 regular-season games. For a game-by-game recap of his sophomore year, click here.
* As a freshman, he averaged 8.5 ppg and shot 43% from the field, 30% on three-pointers (17-of-56), and 76% from the foul line over 28 games
* This article from Mlive.com shows that Macias led Triton to a win over eventual NJCAA runner-up Mott Community College in Lansing, MI. The article doesn't provide a lot of insight on Macias, but I love how cranky the Mott coach is. Apparently his tirade worked. Mott won its next 30 games before falling in the national championship game.
* At Morton (Ill.) HS, Macias was a two-time all-conference selection
* As a senior he earned all-area and all-city honorable-mention accolades while leading the Mustangs to a a regional championship and #18 state ranking according to the Chicago Tribune
* Here's a Chicago Tribune article where Macias leads Morton to victory with 20 points and provides the paper with some postgame comments. I'm such John Reilly likes the headline: "Tough 'D' sparks Mustangs"
* Here's another Trib article with good news: Morton posts a narrow victory (40-38) over a state power, Macias wins the game by sinking both ends of a 1-and-1 with 1.5 seconds left, and we learn that Evanston High School's nickname is the "Wildkits." That's a tremendous trifecta.
* Here's a photo of a very lean Macias taking it to the rack for Morton.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Knight: Shameel Carty sr. G/F 6-4


When Gannon announces a new recruit, the #1 question is usually, "Can he play on this level? Can he compete in Division II and the PSAC West?" With Shameel Carty we already know the answer is a resounding yes. Carty comes to Gannon after three successful seasons at PSAC rival Clarion, where over 66 games (35 of them starts) he totalled 757 points (11.5 ppg), 356 rebounds (5.4 rpg), 92 assists, and 66 steals.

So we know he can play. But Golden Knight fans still have these questions about Carty:
* Why did he sit out last season after three quality years of play?
* Why would Gannon sign a senior transfer?
* What happened April 15 of last year when Carty and several other Clarion students were charged with riot, obstructing administration of the law, failure to disperse upon official order, plus hazardous and disorderly conduct?

Let's talk about the legal matters first. Carty was issued the litany of charges above, but he pled guilty only to hazardous disorderly conduct and was placed on six months probation. According to the Clarion Call newspaper article and police reports, a brawl erupted during the championship of an intramural basketball game involving a team of Clarion football players vs. Clarion basketball players. After a foul, a shoving match ensued between opponents, and spectators ran onto the court causing a riot.

I don't know what to think about all that. Obviously it's not good. But I recall back in 1990 when I played at Gannon, we engaged in a full-scale brawl after our game vs. the University of Buffalo at the Hammermill Center. Did that make Gregg Blair, Dave Callahan, Andy Adams, and me bad people? I don't think so. I'm willing to give the kid the benefit of the doubt. I'll judge him based on the behavior I see with my own eyes. I'm not going prejudge a kid based on one night. I hope other Gannon fans can do the same.

Let's talk about Carty the player. Wait, how about we have our good friend Gary Manchel talk about Carty first. Here's an excerpt from the Erie Times in 2010 prior to Mercyhurst's PSAC West playoff game at Clarion:
"They're very good," Manchel said of the Eagles, who were led by junior guard/forward Shameel Carty's 24 points and 10 rebounds in the 77-75 victory over the 'Hurst in Clarion. "They have the Harrisons (junior transfers, point guard Lloyd and swingman Jamar, who are not related), but the guy that really hurt us the first time was Carty. We shut him down the second time (a 76-64 home win), but they didn't have their shooting guard (Mike) Sherry, and with him in there it creates matchup problems for us. He is supposed to play (tonight). So again, the guy we have to control is Carty, or we are going to have a lot of problems."

Here's some more bio info on Carty:
* Played with former Knights Josh Yanke and Ron Hollis at Clarion. They must not have badmouthed their Gannon experience too much (or Carty didn't place much stock in it) if he's now coming to play for John Reilly.
* Suited up for the Golden Eagles from 2007-10.
* For his career, shot 44% from the field, 33% on threes (46-for-139), and 75% from the foul line.
* I was surprised how frequently he got to the foul line. In the 2009-10 season, he attempted 170 free throws, hitting 125. That placed on 7th on Clarion's all-time single season list for free throws attempted and 6th in makes.
* His junior season was highly productive: 28 games, 17 starts, 14.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg. He led Clarion in scoring 8 times as a junior, including 3 times in the final 4 games, and led them in rebounds 11 games. He poured in a season-high 24 points against both California (Pa.) and Mercyhurst.
* He was named PSAC West Co-Player of the Week in early Feb. 2010 after averaging 18 points and 9 rebounds in two wins vs. Mercyhurst and Edinboro. Heck, maybe Reilly recruited Carty to Gannon for that week alone. Couldn't blame him if he did.
* For the complete stats on Carty's junior year, just click here.
* In limited playing time as a sophomore and freshman he still produced. In 08-09, he played in 27 games with 16 starts, averaging 9.2 ppg and 4.6 rpg. In 11 games in 07-08, he averaged 4.9 ppg and 1.8 rpg.
* His bio on the Clarion website doesn't provide a ton of info, but it does show comments on Carty from CU coach Dr. Ron Righter: "Plays #3 & #4 spots. Excellent conditioned athlete. Slasher. Very gifted. Strong defensive player. Runs the floor well. Can score both inside and outside. Very good in transition. Rebounds well. Quality free throw shooter. From tough high school league."
* Hails from Queens, NY where he played for Holy Cross HS.
* Here's a photo of Carty from his high school days. The caption is actually what impressed me -- Carty's team lost by only 4 points in a playoff game vs. national power Rice, a frequent competitor in the McDonald's Classic.
* Here are two photos from his college days. The first shows Carty getting an up-close look at a dunk by Patrick Patterson, then of the University of Kentucky and now of the Houston Rockets. Clarion played an exhibition game vs. UK that year, losing 117-52, with Carty scoring 10 points. Did you notice all the people in the stands in that UK photo? Well, you won't see many in this one, a PSAC West matchup between Clarion and Lock Haven. And is it standard protocol for everyone at Clarion games to rest their chins on their fist? I know Lock Haven is tough to watch, but at least sit up straight!
* The only online video I can find of Carty is him dunking during a shootaround at Rupp Arena. I was the 20th person to watch it. Join the club.
* If I still did Gannon games on radio, I'm sure I'd slip up at some point and call him "Rico Carty," the former major leaguer.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Knights Finalize Recruiting Class

Just announced: here's the link to the second part of Gannon's recruiting class for this year.

* Dytanya "Bubby" Johnson (Waldorf, Md./Thomas Stone) 6-9, F, Soph.
* Shameel Carty (Queens, N.Y./Holy Cross) 6-4, G/F, Sr.
* Oscar Macias (Cicero, Ill./Morton) 6-3, G, Jr.
* Robert Wilson (Streetsboro, Ohio/Streetsboro) 6-3, F, Jr.

We've already published info on Bubby Johnson, though it looks like he grew two inches from his freshman to his sophomore season. I'll do some more digging on the rest of the recruits and share the info with you over the next few days.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

New Knight: Dytanya "Bubby" Johnson soph. F/C 6-7


Dytanya "Bubby" Johnson hasn't been officially announced as a member of the Gannon basketball team, but I'm jumping the gun on publishing his player profile because I've heard from many reliable sources that he's transferred to GU from Division I New Jersey Tech. Another reason I'm profiling Johnson so soon is that while researching him I became ecstatic that he'll suit up for the Knights this winter. Yes, his physical ability should help Gannon but I love his intangibles more. Heck, just looking at these pictures of the kid makes me wish tomorrow was the Maroon/Gold scrimmage:
* He takes charges.
* He gets after loose balls on the floor.
* He obviously has a passion for the game.
* He mixes it up inside, despite weighing maybe 200 pounds.
* Did I mention he has a passion for the game?
* And for those of you who like slam dunks, he does that, too.

I'm also thrilled about Johnson joining the Knights because he was a frontcourt teammate of super Knight Stephen Battle at Thomas Stone HS in Waldorf, MD. Battle, the PSAC West Freshman of the Year last season and Gannon's best all-around player, looks like he's in it for the long haul at GU if he's recruiting his former high school teammate here.

Here's some more info on Johnson:
* The NJIT website describes him as "a post player noted for his on-court toughness, particularly in the areas of defense and rebounding." That's a consistent theme in all the reports about Johnson -- and you know John Reilly loves those qualities in a player.
* Played in 25 games for 15-15 NJIT, including 11 starts. Averaged 2.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 10.1 minutes of play per game.
* Shot 44% from the field (21-for-48, 0-for-1 on threes) and 58% (15-of-26) from the foul line. Scored a career-high nine points twice including in a 12-point loss at Rutgers.
* Finished third on the team in blocks with 10.
* This article from the Southern Maryland News announcing Johnson's signing with NJIT starts with this line: "Heart, passion, determination, hard work and the love of the game is what separates Thomas Stone senior big man Dytanya 'Bubby' Johnson from most players on the hardwood."
* The article also says, "With his physical stature and ability to cause havoc inside for opposing offenses, his rebounding, block shots and weak side defense, should help Johnson make an immediate impact and earn him a lot of playing time for the Highlanders program next winter as a freshman."
* An all-conference defensive/tight end in high school -- check out this photo of him about to devour a miniature quarterback -- Johnson was recruited by several I-AA gridiron teams.
* As a senior at Stone HS, he averaged 10.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and nearly 3 blocks per game, making 60 percent of his shots from field and 70 percent at the foul line. The Cougars finished 23-2 that year, advancing to the Maryland 3A state championship game.
* In that state final, he recorded 12 rebounds and a season-high 5 blocked shots. In the state semi he tallied a season-high 18 points.
* In 24 games, he produced double-figure rebound totals 23 times, with a high of 19. He also posted two 18-rebound games and one of 17.
* According to MaxPreps.com, he ranked second in the state of Maryland in rebounds and 12th in blocked shots.
* Johnson and Battle reached the Maryland 4A Final Four their sophomore and junior seasons and then the 3A state championship game after the school switched classes.
* This article after Stone's 3A semifinal win features quotes from Johnson.
* Stone expected to win the state championship that year but was upset by smaller Milford Mill (who was not coached by Gil Thorp, by the way).
* Here's how the I95 Ballerz website describes Johnson: "The team’s spiritual leader, Johnson plays hard all the time, manning the paint and directing teammates. Being willing to battle inside should not be a surprise for this two-sport performer, who on the gridiron plays both defensive end and receiver. Though basketball is his true love -- he has been tendered an offer to hoop at NJ Tech -- Johnson is reviewing all options for college.
* And, no, I haven't figured out why he's called "Bubby." I'm guessing it has nothing to do with the former Steelers quarterback.

Video highlights:
* These highlights from a state playoff game focus more on Battle, but that's okay.
* You have to like Johnson's persistence in the paint at the 55-second mark of this video. And his rejection at the 1:39 mark is bone-rattling.
* I'm a basketball fan, but I'm not going to search through this 2-hour, 12-minute video of NJIT at Utah Valley from earlier this year to see Johnson's one minute of play.
* But you only have to wait 6 seconds in this video to watch Johnson jump center vs. Vermont in what appears initially to be the rattiest gymnasium in Division I.

Finally here are some miscellaneous photos of Johnson -- I'm sure Gannon fans won't be able to get enough of Bubby's dreads:
* With his coach during the state finals. I wonder if he'll wear that one long sleeve at Gannon.
* Again with Stephen Battle.
* Could Johnson and Battle bring a celebration like this to the Hammermill?