Quick question for you: Can you name one game from the past two seasons (since the Knights advanced to the Elite 8 in 2009) that was a better performance for Gannon than Saturday's 94-75 drubbing of Shippensburg? Feel free to look at the results from 2009-10 and 2010-11 before answering that question, but I don't think you'll find a decent answer.
Now I'm not going to clear my schedule for the weekend of the Division II Elite 8 (which is March 21-22 & 24 in Northern Kentucky, in case you were wondering) because Cheyney and Ship weren't exactly top-flight teams. But you had to like the offensive firepower and efficiency the Knights displayed this weekend. Against Ship, Gannon shot 56% from the field, 42% on threes, and committed only 5 turnovers while handing out 26 assists. Five players hit double figures ... and whodathunk the center position would lead the way with 30 points and 18 rebounds on 14-of-18 shooting. Dmitry Martynenko broke out with 18 points and 11 boards while Tanner Furno jumped off the bench (literally) for 11 and 7 while making 6-of-7 from the field.
Compare Gannon's offensive numbers for this year vs. last season:
PPG: 85.2 ppg vs. 70.5 ppg (+15.3)
FG%: 51.1% vs. 45.9% (+5.2%)
3FG%: 40.9% vs. 33.9% (+7.0%)
FT%: 75.2% vs. 70.2% (+5.2%)
Assist-to-TO ratio: 1.2-to-1 vs. 0.89-to-1 (+.31)
Offensive rebounds: 14.5 rpg vs. 10.5 rpg (+5.0)
Games scoring 80+ points: 6 of 8 (75%) vs. 5 of 26 (19.2%)
Games scoring 90+ points: 3 of 8 (37.5%) vs. 1 of 26 (3.8%)
So the Knights are shooting 5% better and even when they miss, they're likely to grab the offensive rebound for another scoring opportunity. That will get you a higher scoring total and eventually a higher win percentage that last year's 15-11 mark.
Even with the two lopsided victories this weekend, defense still has to be a concern for John Reilly. Dribble penetration by Ship led to the Raiders being comfortable on the perimeter and connecting on 9-of-16 threes. The defense was the best it's been all year these past two games, but it has to improve even more if the Knights want to make a postseason run.
* Check out the photo galleries from this weekend's games by clicking here (GU vs. Cheyney) and here (GU vs. Ship). Pic #41 of the GU/Ship set is tremendous -- Stephen Battle's soaring dunk in the second half. Kudos to Joe Mattis for his camera work.
* Be sure to weigh in on our effort to give Darrell Blanton a nickname he deserves. Blanton lived up to his billing as the King of Jammermill Saturday with a 20-point, 9-rebound, high-energy effort.
* Though Gannon is off for 18 days until the Porreco Cup, the Gannon Hoops staff will still be working. We'll talk about some Knights of years gone by and would like to hear your thoughts.
UPDATED 12/12/11: Thanks to Gannon Hoops follower JRD who emailed me this photo of former Knight Kyle Goldcamp on Cleveland Cavaliers media day. Very cool to see him in an NBA uni. I'm saving this photo for my 5-year-old daughter to show her that hard work pays off. For more info on Goldcamp in the NBA, click here to read the press release from Gannon. I think Goldcamp might have a future in The Association because I heard when he transferred from UPJ, he did a live show on their campus radio station and said, "In this fall, I'm going to take my talents to Presque Isle and join the Gannon Knights."