I just received a flyer in the mail from the Gannon Golden Knight Booster Club saying that the annual Maroon/Gold scrimmage will be held Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Hammermill. The men tip off at 7:15 with the women following at 8:15. This is "invite only" to booster club members and season ticket holders, but I'll make a deal with you if you don't fit into either of those categories. I'm inviting you to attend as long as you show up with minimum $25 in cash or a $25 check payable to the Gannon Booster Club. That will get you a membership -- and it will help out Gannon Athletics. And it will help you get a sneak peak at the 2011-12 Knights.
The one thing I watch for every Maroon/Gold game is to see if everyone who is healthy plays. I think I'm still the only human ever to be healthy for a 40-minute, full game-length intrasquad scrimmage and not see a second of playing time ... in my senior year no less! In 1991, Bob Dukiet divided us into two teams of seven with John Reilly, his top assistant at the time, and new assistant Rick Binder coaching each team. I was on Binder's squad and he was eager to prove to Duke he knew how to win games. So he rotated the other six guys on our team while I rotted on the bench. I recall after not playing the first half being surprised but thinking to myself he just wanted to see how some combination of players worked together. I'd at least get a few minutes in the second half, even just to give a guy a rest. But it never happened. I recall my chest pounding and stomach churning as the game wound down and I realized the only game all year I could actually expect to play was going to pass by with me sitting on the bench (and my entire family watching from the stands).
In the lockerroom I was borderline distraught. What I thought was my one-and-only chance of playing extended minutes in a Gannon uniform in front of real people with real referees at the Audi was dashed. Do you know what a dreadful feeling that is? I fought back tears while Dukiet gave his postgame speech, and then my teammates expressed in whispers how I was wronged big-time.
I never complained, but I think someone (I'd bet Coach Reilly) said something to Dukiet between the Maroon/Gold game and our exhibition the following week against some Gannon alumni. I subbed into that game with several minutes left on the clock and played with reckless abandon. What did I have to lose? I recall a 2-on-1 with Mike Runski on defense and Derrick Vinyard on my left. I looked right and flicked the ball underhand to Vinyard in the lane. First no-look pass of my college career -- practice drills included. A couple minutes later, Chad Spurgeon fired a long outlet pass to me near mid court on the East side of the Hammermill floor in front of Murderer's Row. I let the ball bounce once, took a right-handed dribble and drained a left-wing three just 5 seconds into the shot clock. Former Gannon SID Bob Shreve was on the PA microphone that night and shouted, "Threeeeeee for Jimmy Roddyyyyyyyy!" I have the video footage of that event (courtesy of the late Mike Warchol) and must have watched that stretch of action 200 times. OK, maybe 500 times.
Sorry if my personal story there bored you at all. It's just kind of cathartic for me to think back to my Maroon/Gold experience, how heartbroken I was at the time, and how thrilled I was to get playing time in the alumni exhibition the next week. I hope the Maroon/Gold game this year is filled with nothing but good memories for the Knights and us Gannon fans.