Saturday, November 26, 2011

Adam's Evening

Adam Blazek's college debut in his hometown was, um, less than he had dreamed about. Blazek missed his first 7 shots and committed a team-high 4 turnovers as the Knights shockingly lost to NAIA Daemen. You had to be concerned if that setback would crush the freshman's confidence in home game #2 vs. Roberts Wesleyan. Instead, Blazek torched the Raiders for 23 points -- 14 of them in the first 4 minutes of the game -- and led the Knights to an easy 86-61 win.

Blazek's stat line for the night was eye-popping: he averaged a point per minute (23), made 8-of-11 field goals (5-of-6 on threes), cashed in on both his free throws, and recorded 4 assists. What I liked even more were Blazek's comments in the Erie Times today. He gave credit for his success to senior PG Steve Piotrowicz, the man he supplanted in Gannon's starting lineup.

Other thoughts on the Gary Miller Classic:
* In the comments section of the blog post on the Daemen loss, Walter Ego wrote, and I quote, "Reilly must go. Now. This was Daemen. Daemen." Following that logic, I guess Pitt-Johnstown coach Bob Rukavina has to be fired as well because UPJ lost to Daemen in the Gary Miller championship, 72-65.

* Darrell Blanton deservingly represented Gannon on the all-tourney team after tallying 17 points and 9 boards in 31 minutes vs. Robert Wesleyan. Blanton was easily the most consistent and impressive Knight this weekend. Every time he gets the ball, I lean forward in my seat anticipating a great play by the junior leaper. He reminds me of a cross between former Knights Vince Mosley (2008-09) and Derrick Price (1990-92).

* My (and my wife's) favorite play of the RWC/GU contest came at the start of the second half. Raider Herbert Alexander threw away the inbounds pass to start the period, and Blanton immediately converted it into a three-point play. So Roberts coach Rob McCoy yanked Alexander from the game -- just 6 seconds in! -- and the coach and player engaged in a spirited conversation (i.e. argument) while Blanton cashed in his free throw. On the ensuing RWC possession, Raider William Kemp-Harris, who McCoy subbed into the game for Alexander, fired a wild pass out of bounds. The ball nailed McCoy in the midsection. While I bit my bottom lip, my wife turned to me and said, "Karma."

* Despite the back-to-back games and praising his team's depth during the early season, John Reilly really shortened his bench against Roberts. Three players logged 30 minutes or more (Blanton 37, Stephen Battle 31, and Oscar Macias 31) while Brandon Belt (9 minutes), T.J. Wilson (5), Shameel Carty (3), and Bubby Johnson (2) saw their minutes reduced. In the second half, Macias appeared to be dragging after playing full-court defense for most of the game.

* I was scratching my head both nights over referee Tony Meeks. He looked familiar and his name rang a bell, but I couldn't place him. Rick "Stats" Klapthor talked with Meeks and learned that he was part of the NC State teams in the mid 80s coached by Jim Valvano. Chris Corchianni was the star player for those Wolfpack squads.

* You might not want to relive the Daemen game, but here's a photo gallery from the evening. There's also a photo gallery from the Roberts Wesleyan romp. Major props to Joe Mattis for his photo work. And you thought he was just a great sports writer ...

* And here's a link to postgame interviews from Saturday night. I especially like Blazek being asked if he felt like he was "immortal" during his opening outburst. Of course the Prep alum answered "no."

13 comments:

  1. Better performance tonight from GU.

    And is Daemen the most unlikely GM Classic champion ever? I could have probably gotten pretty good odds if I had picked Daemen to win it all at the start of the tourney.

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  2. If the UPJ coach has Reilly's history of losing games and players and dragging the UPJ program down to new modern-era lows, then maybe he should go too. But he doesn't. To apply my statement to the UPJ coach is a cheap shot. This isn't Reilly's first game or first year. He has a six year history at Gannon that, outside of one remarkable season, is not exactly the stuff of legends. Am I the only one who remembers all the anti-Reilly sentiment that was being slung on this site last year? The last two years? But now I'm the bad guy?

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  3. I remember a few people saying some things about Coach Reilly needing to be dismissed, but it didn't seem like an outstanding number of people.

    Obviously, Gannon admin feels differently or Coach Reilly would have been gone already.

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  4. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Coach Reilly gets good basketball players to come to Gannon. If those players aren't interested in also becoming good MEN, they leave. Unlike some of my fellow bloggers were they given the chance to lead the Golden Knights, Coach Reilly would rather take his chances with high character guys who are willing to work hard and absorb some losses than mortgage his pride by winning with knuckleheads.

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  5. A good program wins and graduates players.

    Reilly has been average with two great years for winning.

    He has been far below average in graduating and retaining kids. It does not seem like Reilly recruits high character guys (if you connect character to staying)at all or he is just awful at assessing the intangibles.

    Who knows but I believe this is the last year of his contract so it will be interesting to see if he is renewed? Anyone know this?

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  6. Fauves- I agree if we were back in the 80s-90s, however, wOuld you then say that the North Carolina men do not have a good program? Duke? UCONN? Kentucky? Kansas? Texas? Coach K used to pride himself in recruiting graduating players. Even he admitted in an interview last year that he has started to have to look more at the superstar players that he hopes will fit his system rather than players he knows will fit the system, but aren't as good. now I know d1 is a different scenario because of the NBA one and dones, but the same can be applied to Coach Reilly and Gannon. Coach Reilly had only recruited a few "bad apples" and they may not have been his fault. They could've been character guys but were affected by the limelight or by college rituals

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  7. That brought them down. Agee and Jerrell (? The kid that played one game last year then quit) didn't come in with bad reps and left Gannon with them. They didn't like Coach Reilly's methodology or they weren't happy with playing time or they wanted to party and not study. That's not a coaches fault (unless he's doing it with them). Not everything can be blamed on Coach Reilly, he's just a scapegoat because he's an easy target. Now can I say that I've never questioned some substitution decisions he's had? Definitely not, I've scratched my head many times. I've also looked at lineups on the floor and thought. "are you attempting to lose the game". That's just my opinion though, I'm not him or the players. Neither is anyone else on here. Unless someone on here gets an all access pass to practices road trips behind the scenes etc for themselves, no one can point a finger of true blame. They can only assume and accuse.

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  8. I would be very interested to see the graduation rate during Reilly's tenure vs. the rest of D2.

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  9. I'd bet it's not much more than a 10% difference.

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  10. One thing that staggers me is that not one single player that Coach Reilly has brought in during his six seasons as Gannon head coach has been a full four-year player. Not ONE. And that won't happen in this, his seventh year, either. Malcolm Woodbury would have been his first full four-year player, but he's no longer on the team. Tanner Furno, if he plays next season, is his next chance. So, at least into next season, his eighth, Reilly will not have had one player play out a full four years of eligibility. Where else has this happened for such a long period of time, at any level of college basketball? I think that fact alone tells something.

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  11. Any team that John Calipari coaches. Look at kentuckys teams. He gets one and dones and then the upperclassmen leave. (same kind of scenario.. Coach Reilly gets juco players and others leave due to lack of playing time).

    How many 4 year players has Manchel graduated in the past 7 years? Probably not too many more than 0.

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  12. John Reilly made his weekly appearance on Jim LeCorchick's radio show today. He said a couple things that jumped out to me:

    * He admitted the Knights were surprised by Daemen's zone and were slow to attack/adjust to it. With Gannon being a 100% man-to-man team and fresh off the preseason with several new players, they haven't seen much zone, let alone a decent one like Daemen's. The goal is to make the opponent uncomfortable, and Daemen did that to Gannon.

    Speaking of Daemen, they are now ranked #25 in NAIA Division II play. That leaves them 20 spots behind the school with the lamest name in all college sports -- Dordt (Iowa).

    * I liked Reilly noting that Oscar Macias needs to be more aggressive on offense. I've had several people tell me he could be Gannon's best all-around player, but all we've seen from him so far is an occasional decent outside stroke and a couple layups. Through 4 games he's third on the team in minutes (114) but sixth in field goal attempts (19). T.J. Wilson has played 81 fewer minutes (33) but has nearly as many field goals attempts (15) as Macias.

    But I can't complain too much about Macias on offense. He and three other first-year Knights have already passed me on Gannon's all-time scoring list.

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