The engine that powered the Knights' high-octane offense in the first 12 games of the season is now sputtering. In Saturday's 65-59 loss at California (Pa.), GU scored a season-low 59 points, 27 below their average. They shot just 22-of-53 from the field (41%) and 5-of-18 on threes (28%). Combine that with Gannon's 27-for-70 field goal chart (38%) vs. Edinboro, and you can see that Gannon's offense needs a tune-up. It's interesting to see how this team's personality has flip-flopped like a politician. At the start of the season, they handled the ball confidently and scored easily but allowed nearly as many points. Now they've tightened up the defense but stopped making shots.
So where has all the offense gone? Nobody can say for sure, put I'm speculating some Gannon fans will say it's John Reilly's fault for running the team too hard in practice. I think it's probably more of what Tom Chapman taught his players at Gannon: the first half of the season, you'll score on your first option. Then, after teams have you scouted, you'll need to score on your second or third option. GU's first option has been transition basketball -- score quickly before the opponent gets set. Now that teams are making Gannon swing the ball and score in half court, the offensive productivity has waned.
The Knights need to make some adjustments or this will end up another season described as "disappointing" and "mediocre." Gannon fans expect the NCAA playoffs every year. They don't have a second option.
* I felt bad about Gannon's loss but what made me feel worse was Reilly saying after the game, "Steve (Piotrowicz) probably won't be back" after missing Saturday's game due to injury. Piotrowicz, who has battled a hip injury for months, is a heart-and-soul kind of player the Knights will miss in practices and games. And beyond the intangibles, he's the only other PG the Knights have besides Adam Blazek. Piotrowicz's absence will hurt Gannon's offense for sure.
* The Knights are now a 8-6 overall. I checked out the rest of the region, and 14 teams have better records than Gannon. I didn't research their in-region and vs. Division II opponents records which carry the weight in the regional ranking, but here's where those 14 teams currently stand overall:
-- The PSAC boasts 7 teams with more stellar records: IUP (12-2), Bloomsburg (12-3), Clarion (11-5), Edinboro (9-5), Mercyhurst (9-5), Slippery Rock (9-5), and Kutztown (9-5).
-- In the WVIAC, 4 schools have better marks than GU: West Liberty (14-1), Alderson-Broaddus (12-2), Charleston (12-4), and Wheeling Jesuit (9-5).
-- The CIAA seems to be having a down season, but Shaw (12-2), Winston-Salem (11-2), Bowie State (10-3) still have better records than our Knights.
Even if the Knights catch fire these next 2 weeks, don't anticipate them being ranked in the region when the first Atlantic rankings are released later this month. There are several teams in GU's way before they break into the region's upper echelon.
* Interesting that Cal spent $59 million for their new 6,000-seat convocation center but drew only 257 for Saturday's game.