Friday, January 6, 2012

Fight Club

Of course I was thrilled that Gannon scored two wins in the final weekend of PSAC crossover play, blasting Bloomsburg Friday, 81-67, and then manhandling Mansfield Saturday, 74-54. What had to make GU fans ecstatic beyond the double-digit victories was that the Knights did it playing their best defense of the season. The stats tell the first part of the story:
* Entering the brace of games, Gannon was allowing 77.7 ppg. They allowed only 60.5 ppg vs. the Huskies and the Mounties.
* Opponents were shooting 46.3% from the field prior to Friday. Mansfield shot 31% while Bloom had to catch fire in the second half to produce a 42% shooting chart.
* The Knights were outrebounding opponents by +8 per game, a John Reilly staple, but they cranked it up a notch vs. Bloom (+11, 41-30) and then vs. MU (+16, 48-32).

What the Knights are doing beyond the box score has me even more excited about their prospects entering PSAC West play. They are outworking and outfighting their opponents for every loose ball and on nearly every defensive possession. They've been relentless even when the game wasn't on the line. Leading Mansfield 71-52 with about 2 minutes to go Saturday, Dmitry Martynenko was positioned on the weak side with a Mansfield defender between him and the basket, but he muscled his way inside to earn Gannon's 16th offense rebound of the night. Next, off Martynenko's missed FT, Brandon Belt lost some skin on his knees diving after the loose ball in front of the Gannon bench. About 20 seconds later, Adam Blazek lept out of bounds after a deflection and slammed the ball off an MU player so the Knights could earn possession of the ball.

Why do the Knights play this way? Two key reasons I think. First, Reilly has recruited players with a mindset that meshes with his system. Anybody who saw Blazek play at Prep knows that he didn't begin to learn hard work and extra effort in college. The second reason is something that some commenters here have slammed Reilly for: he works this team like crazy and continually pushes them for greater effort. For example, with Gannon leading Mansfield comfortably late in the second half Saturday, the Knights committed a foul on a transition layup. No big deal, right? Not when you're teaching Bob Dukiet defense. Reilly took two steps toward midcourt and yelled at his team in Jerry Slocum style, "Hey! Hey! NO JOGGING!"

I'm not sure how many more games Gannon will win this season. We were reminded at the Porreco Cup that crazy things can happen to good teams. But seeing that the Knights finally have the mindset to outfight their opponents for a full 40 minutes gives me hope they'll be battling to host a PSAC playoff home game 6 weeks from now.

Knight Knotes:
* I hear that Battle will be out of the lineup another 2 or 3 weeks. As one fan mentioned to me yesterday, this could be a long-term blessing for the Knights because it allows them to play Shameel Carty and develop more bench depth.
* You don't have to watch the Knights for very long to understand that Brandon Belt is a pure shooter. But his athleticism literally jumped out to me this weekend. Not only was he quick to the ball, but he soared over everyone to block 2 shots Saturday.
* Bloomsburg PG Trevon Johnson entered Friday's game vs. Gannon as the Huskies #2 scorer at 10.7 ppg, and he was averaging only 2.6 turnovers per game. But against GU, Johnson produced more TOs (6) than points (4). A frustrated Bloom coach succinctly (and loudly) explained why when he yelled, "He's trying to match that (expletive deleted) kid," referring to PG counterpart Adam Blazek, "instead of just playing!" Saturday night at Clarion, Johnson carried Bloom to victory, scoring 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including the game-winning jumper with 3 seconds to play.
* Click on think link for video highlights and interviews from this weekend's games. Gannon SID Dan Teliski has done a tremendous job utilizing multimedia to give us full coverage of the Knights.

13 comments:

  1. Knights are undermanned tonight. No Battle (knee) or Piotrowicz (flu).

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  2. Seems as of right now, livestating the game, that it isn't mattering at the moment that they are undermannned. Playing damn well

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  3. Well played tonight. Balanced scoring -- five players in double-figures, one with eight, one with seven.

    Nice effort despite loss of Stephen & Steven.

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  4. So in watching this game I'm wondering...
    1) why does Carty only play 2 minutes a game (if that)? Maybe he's just "getting back into it" (didn't play last season), but that kid can play!
    2) why didn't TJ Wilson play more this game? Battle out, Macias playing the 3 and Blanton in foul trouble he would've been nice to throw in there a little more often to give some breathers and put another "banger" on the court.

    Given that...

    AWESOME performance by the knights!! I love that Belt showed why he was picked to start, I love that after keeping the end of the bench warm for most of the season Carty came in with a good attitude and showed what he has. I was happy to see dmitry play solid (although still don't understand why it took a PG and a SF being out for our starting C to play more....)

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  5. Just a couple observations-

    Although GU played well, don't be misled-I thought Bloomsburg's effort was awful. They seemed vastly overconfident and played lazy. Their starting PG got hit in the head at the very beginning and seemed out of it throughout the game. It reminded me of the GU-Daemen game-one team (BU) sort of going through the motions while the other team (GU) playing with a lot of energy. The trick for GU is to keep that energy, particularly if they are missing both Stephens again tonight.

    I thought TJ Wilson had matchup issues with the much bigger post players-could explain his limited PT. Didn't he pick up a couple quick fouls as well?

    Carty, I'm told, isn't the hardest-working practice player on the team, which holds a lot of weight in Coach Reilly's book. Could explain his limited PT.

    IMO, the reason Martytenko played more was that they had big guys his size that he could keep up with. That has not usually been the case. He is not going to be able to match a 6'5" post player who likes to roam the perimeter or slash to the basket. Lsat night, there were a couple guys he could guard. Hence, more PT. Blanton's foul trouble also forced Reilly's hand somewhat there as well. Had nothing to do with the shortened roster at PG and SF.

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  6. Good points and I agree with all except about dmitry. They've played against teams before that had guys similar to last nights opponents and dmitry still played 12-18 mins. Tanner has been doing extremely well and playing with great confidence, however, I don't see how he would be able to guard a 6'5 slasher/shooter any better or worse than dmitry.

    I do agree that despite Gannon playing hard and well, Bloomsburg looked awful. Although I can see how beating IUP and CalU can make a team a little cocky; no excuse though.

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  7. Airman Blanton, cleared for takeoff. The pass from Belt is a little high. OMG!! Darrell caught it. He's jamming it through the rim with monstorous force. Two hands. Cameras are flashing. The crowd has been lifted out of its seats. The crowd noise is ear-splitting. Women and small children are being shielded from the blast. Grown men are near tears. Oh, the humanity!!

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  8. I liked furnos even more! He went right past the one guy and avoided the block of another. I dunno if it's just me but it seems coming off the bench may be best for him. Love the effort of the bench; especially Carty.

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  9. Are the Golden Ones really this good, taking apart a very athletic Mansfield team (that lost by one last night at red hot Clarion) by 20 on a (k)night when the offense sputtered and Battle was a spectator? How good is this club going to be come tourney time? And how many more Air Blanton assaults can the rim on the south basket withstand before it has to be replaced? Our favorite Knight let rip another colossal slam tonight at the 9:00 minute mark in the second half that pretty much cued the Mansfield bus driver to start the engine.

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  10. Yeah, pretty sad when the Mansfield bench starts chanting "Warm Up Our Bus, Warm Up Our Bus" haha ok ok just in fun!!

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  11. Any inside poop on Battles knee?????

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  12. Ya he took the browns to the Super Bowl

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  13. So even though boro has a horrible record, what's everyone's thoughts for the score? Gannon win, lose? Close, blowout? Gannon vs boro or hurst no matter what each team has seems to always be a good game but I'm hoping this time Gannon can show them what they really have.

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