I'm not sure what to say after Gannon's 18-point drubbing of Clarion on Saturday, 81-63. Have you ever heard the saying, "Been down so long, don't know which way is up"? Because of Gannon's three consecutive torturous losses, I was in that state of mind even with a 20-point second-half lead vs. the Golden Eagles. When Clarion cut the margin to 15 on a three-pointer with 4 minutes to play, I have to admit I thought "here we go again."
But the Knights responded with an Oscar Macias layup off a perfect backdoor feed from Darrell Blanton to push the lead to 17. An Adam Blazek steal, his fourth of the afternoon to help his keep his PSAC lead in that statistic, helped melt 30 more seconds off the clock, and the Knights won going away. It was satisfying to see Gannon post a resounding win in a game they needed to have. Ordinary teams fold in this situation, but GU played with increased intensity.
There's been lots of talk on this website about the Knights being tired. Did you see any of that yesterday? I didn't, even though John Reilly opted to not substitute during the entire second half. In his radio interview with Jim LeCorchick after the game, Reilly made it clear the lack of subs wasn't an oversight. He said, "When you play with media timeouts every four minutes, to me, it's impossible to get tired. ... People think we practice too hard which is ludicrous. It's basketball -- we're trying to learn, we're trying to get better. We're not fools. All the coaches have played."
First, you have to love his conviction. Second, I have to agree with him. Remember what college basketball was like prior to media timeouts for all games? The regular season games breezed by with little interruption, and then when the NCAAs (and media timeouts) showed up, the game really dragged because of all the stoppages. Now we fans are accustomed to the media timeouts and think coaches still need to rest players just like the good ol' days -- even though they get 8 minutes of stopped time each half with official timeouts.
Here's my personal perspective on this topic and why I think resting players during games is fairly overrated (when your team doesn't full-court press):
* During offseason pickup games, there are no media timeouts or free throws, and winner stays on. We'd play first to 8 field goals, which is essentially a quarter of a typical basketball game. Nobody ever, ever asked for a sub, even if you were in your fourth consecutive game.
* A few years ago, I helped organize an AAU-type all-star team called the Erie Red Storm. For one Saturday, we had only five players and had to play three games. We must have lost all three games without subs, right? And the third game was probably a ragged affair because the players' legs were shot, right? Nope. It seemed like the club got better with each game and we won all three.
* When I played at Bethel Christian High School, we didn't have a JV team, so I was on the varsity all four years. In about 70 career games, I was on the bench for a total of eight minutes -- and most of that was the six minutes I sat during a blowout of Portersville Christan School. When you're in your teens or early 20s, you have energy to burn. (Side note: I may hold the Guinness World Record for biggest playing time differential between high school and college.)
All that said, if I was a college coach, I'd still rotate eight or maybe nine players just to keep guys happy and to be prepared when a starter gets hurt or picks up fouls. And I'd have a pre-stated rotation so the players didn't have to wonder how much PT they'd get going into a game. As I recall, that's how Tom Chapman worked his lineup. The rotation was set prior to the game and would only get altered if a player had a hot streak or picked up two fouls in the first half. Then Chappy would implement situational substitutions in the closing minutes of the game.
We can argue all we want about subs, but Reilly's plan -- which none of us would have endorsed prior to the Clarion game -- certainly worked.
* I'd like to know the thoughts of Clarion coach Dr. Ron Righter when he looked at the stat sheet and saw T.J. Wilson's line: 20 points, 9 rebounds, 7-for-9 on field goals, and 6-for-10 on free throws. Wilson entered the game averaging 2.3 ppg and 1.9 rpg.
* How about Mercyhurst trouncing #10 IUP Saturday, 71-47? And Slippery Rock trashed visiting Edinboro, 85-57. Quite a wacky weekend in the PSAC West.
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