Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy New Year!

Boy, was it nice to be back at the Hammermill to see live basketball on Thursday! Despite watching the Knights -- sans sophomore Stephen Battle (death in the family) and senior Shameel Carty (injury) -- for two 10-minute periods, I still don't know how good they are. In intrasquad scrimmages, especially with so many new players, everything is relative. I thought Bubby Johnson scored better in the post than I expected, but maybe that's because Gannon's post defenders aren't that strong. We'll learn after a few regular season games how good this team is.

Notice that I said "how good." I believe this team will be good. Specifically, here's what I liked from the scrimmage:

* I didn't see any stiffs on the GU roster. Everyone is an athlete, with the only skinny guys being Tanner Furno and Alvin Tucker. Time will tell if these athletes are also basketball players, but the Knights won't be lacking in speed, quickness, strength, and scrappiness.

* Tying in with the athleticism, I liked that the Knights were extending their defense more than in years past (when they weren't as athletic). A couple sources have told me that with Gannon's combination of athleticism and depth, John Reilly plans to implement a full-court press instead of just the stifling halfcourt man defense we're accustomed to. Instead of just protecting the lane, Gannon could try to force some more turnovers in the backcourt. Because of that, Reilly could rotate most if not all of the 12 active roster members during games.

* Who is the best dunker in Gannon history? I ask that because in the pregame warmups Darrell Blanton threw down some big-time jams. My favorite GU dunkers were Mitchell Smith, John "Shanghai" Matthews, Derrick Price, and Shannon Grant. You might not remember Grant, but I played with him one year at Gannon, and he could really fly.

* The offensive abilities of Johnson and Dmitry Martynenko in the post give me hope that Gannon's offense will be much improved this year. If they can score one-on-one on the block like we saw Thursday, then opponents will have to double-down. That will result in more open three-point attempts for the Knights and a less painful halfcourt offense compared with previous seasons.

* I really liked Johnson's overall game. Here are the notes I took on him during the scrimmage: "Finishes with either hand, has post-up ability -- not too skinny, makes his free throws, cuts off drives, can wall-up on defense, super enthusiasm." Oh, and he's 6-foot-9.

* Best quote from a Gannon fan: "There are more people here than you get at a Mercyhurst game." The Maroon/Gold scrimmage drew about 300 fans. Thought I don't know if we can call it the "Maroon/Gold game" this year because neither team wore maroon or gold, as this photo gallery shows.

My biggest concern about Gannon ties in with my compliment earlier about their athleticism. With everyone being such a good athlete, it appears they don't have a go-to pure shooter and they don't seem to set many good screens. My second biggest concern is lack of depth at point guard. Veteran PG Steve Piotrowicz is still hobbled by a hip injury and Adam Blazek is a freshman PG.

If you want to see some video highlights of the scrimmage, including an interview with Reilly, just click here.


  1. jimmy,

    my thoughts on the new guys,

    dmitry looks fine. solid player, rebounder, passer. good fundamentals. a 'presence'.

    robert wilson looks to be a 'find', too bad he can't play this year. great off the ball instincts.

    oscar is very quick, and follows his shots.

    like blanton also. exceptionally strong for his stature. plays much 'bigger'.

  2. possibly my favorite moment of the game was "Bubby" Johnson during a foul shot. He looked at one of his teammates and announced, "I don't think you're as excited and pumped as me right now. If we're gonna win, you need to get excited!" I see a lot of leadership coming from him

  3. East Stroudsburg, Gannon's opponent for the season opener next week, lost 96-92 to West Liberty today. WLU is preseason #6 in the country and made the DII Final Four a season ago. Freshman Whis Grant led the way for the Warriors with 30. Here's a writeup on the game.

    ESU lost its only exhibition to Division I Rider, 74-61.

    Kutztown, GU opponent #2, started its season today with an 84-78 home win over Herb Magee and Philadelphia University. KU did not play any exhibition games according to their website.

  4. Stroud dropped to 0-2 with a 74-66 loss today vs. Charleston (WVa) in the second round of the Shippensburg Tip-Off Tournament.

    The Warriors should pick up a win before playing Gannon. ESU hosts Penn State-Schuylkill Tuesday night.

  5. You guys are bringing the news like crazy! Feels good to get info. On the team, thanks! So If I am reading your previews correctly, first game of the season is a good test for Gannon?

  6. As expected, Stroud killed Penn State-Schuykill tonight, 107-53. The box score has all sorts of wacky numbers:
    * ESU won the battle of the boards 60-30
    * PSUK committed 33 turnovers, nearly 1 a minute
    * PSUK guard Patrick Killian and a double-double with 13 points and 11 turnovers
    * ESU led 11-0 88 seconds into the game

    A surprise to me was Clarion getting rolled in their home opener by Holy Family, 88-65.

  7. Looks like the Porreco Cup may be tougher than some think. Malone (GU's first night opponent) ended Findlay's 71 game home winning streak, 74-71.

  8. For real let's be honest Nooo body took off in a game from near the foul line when it counted
    Roddy is right Shannon Grant was siick who at Gannon University attended Oak Hill Academy ?
    Coach Dukiet should be ashamed he averaged under 9 pts and very next year averages almost 17 pts
    a game...