Wednesday, January 18, 2012

An Open Letter To The Basketball Gods

Some of you faithful Gannon Hoops followers might recall my Open Letter To George Johnson after the Gannon sharpshooter quit the team in November 2009. I don't know if Johnson read the letter (but the final comment on the post seems to reveal that a supporter of his certainly did), but George rejoined the team shortly afterwards and led the Knights in nearly every offensive category. I'm hoping that tactic works again with this open letter to the basketball gods. They've been messing with us Gannon fans and I want it to stop now.

Dear basketball gods:

Most letters start out real friendly and all, but this isn't one of them. Stop jerking us around. The past year has been sheer torture for us Gannon fans. Let me recap in case you forgot. Here's what the Knights have endured over the past 365 days:

* Not qualifying for the playoffs last March. Of course, the NCAAs, but Gannon didn't even make the PSAC playoffs. The Knights missed out on being a top 4 team in a 7-team conference. OK, technically it's 8 in the PSAC West, but did 1-26 Lock Haven really count? (Speaking of "counting" and "Lock Haven", check out the giant crowd they drew for a recent home game by clicking here.)

* A 14-13 overall record. I remember years ago when Gannon printed its pocket schedule, the last three lines gave the dates for the Elite 8 in Springfield, Mass. Everyone expected the Knights to advance deep in the NCAAs. Now I'm planning to spend the weekend of this year's regionals in North Springfield at Peggy Gray Candies off Route 20 West.

* A 10-7 mark at the Hammermill Center. Opponents used to fear playing in the Audi. But burned into my brain from the past year is Seton Hill celebrating its Porreco Cup title and Daemen advancing to the Gary Miller Classic finals while the Knights slinked back to their locker room. (By the way, Seton Hill is just 1-6 since their wild win over Gannon while NAIA Daemen is just 7-6 since shocking the Knights.)

Seven losses at the Audi in one calendar year! I just looked in the Gannon media guide and saw that in my 4-year career at Gannon we lost 11 total games at the Hammermill, an average of less than 3 a year. And those weren't even the glory days. In his final 7 years at Gannon, Jerry Slocum lost just 14 games at the 'Mill. And those weren't even the glory days!

* Here's the kicker that really has me fed up with the basketball gods: 10 of Gannon's 13 losses have been by 4 points or fewer. And in the the 6-point loss at Cal a week ago, Gannon trailed by just 1 with under 2 minutes to play. And don't get me started on the 3 overtime losses, including 1 in double OT. I thought the 5 nailbiting losses in late-January and February last year were excruciating, and then you serve me up a half dozen already this season. The topper was Wednesday's 62-61 heartpulverizer at Mercyhurst, which won't go away no matter how much Mylanta I guzzle.

Is it my fault? I know I made a deal with you 20 years ago when you helped a freckle-faced 145-pound guard with poor ballhandling skills and a line drive jumpshot make the Gannon roster. But if I had known it would have resulted in this, I might have just tried out for the cross country team instead.

My request to you is to give this Gannon team two additional successful possessions per game. They don't have to be anything spectacular like a Darrell Blanton dunk or an Adam Blazek whirling dirvish layup. Just two more good possessions -- 4 more points each game. If I'd have asked for this before the season, our Knights would be something like 13-2 instead of, sigh, 8-and-stinking-7.

On behalf of Gannon fans everywhere, especially those on the floor in the fetal position, thank you for considering this request.

Irritated in Erie

P.S. BYU-Hawaii advanced to the DII national championship game last year after starting its season 5-4. If you could give me that deal, it would be really sweet. Thanks again.


  1. I am having that blank screen problem when I click on comments. Everynow and then I can get here but how I don't know it changes all the time. I know others had this problem.

  2. having the same problem. Tried everything I could think as well as the suggestions made on the Blogger home page. Maybe its not us!!!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Halftime: Hurst 39, Gannon 33. The Mercyhurst students sitting in front of me left now because they have a lot of work to do. That reflects the surreal, disengaged atmosphere here.

  5. We're now finding new and inventive ways to lose basketball games. It's too bad because the silly turnover nullified two stellar defensive stops by the Knights. The Knights are now 2-6 in games decided by four or fewer points. Flip that to 6-2 and we'd be sitting pretty at 12-3. But as Mike Ditka says, you are what your record says you are. We're 8-7.

  6. After that game tonight, I am convinced that I have some grey hair at this point. You CAN NOT turn the ball over like they did with 30 seconds left in the game, that was a killer. I guess on the positive side of things, the Gannon fans in attendance tonight did a heck of a job cheering on the team near the end of the game. Haven't had that much fun yelling like a fool in a while. If this team could ever win the close games, they would be really dangerous. But close doesn't count unless it is horseshoes.

  7. I have the blank comments screen too and I have friends who have the same problem. I can only read or make comments via my phone.

    Meanwhile up on the hill was that Furno standing in the backcourt behind the top of the key AGAIN as the Knights worked for a last shot with 20 seconds left? Yes it was! Blazek and Macias appeared to do everything in their power to not pass him the ball and they succeeded. However, he was in the way enough to create a log jam back there, resulting in Belt having to launch a long three with a Hurst player on him like a blanket. Not Furno's fault for being there. Just doing what he's told. If Furno was under the hoop would the 6-9 leaped have been able to stick back Belt's miss for the win? We'll never know.

    The Hurst's second half shooting percentage was three points higher than Mitt Romney's tax rate and they were out rebounded by the Golden Ones 43-28. So how does the Hurst win that game?

    Was Reilly saving Carty for overtime? Zero minutes played. I was very impressed with the effort tonight. These guys played their butts off. They deserve better.

    Why is it so hard to get Belt and Macias open for outside jumpers? Are screens illegal this year? Too many times the offense breaks down and they wind up with Blazek forcing up a prayer, which tonight was answered more often than not.

    Gannon's chances for even a PSAC playoff spot are now on life support, obviously. Think it's too early to start the 7th annual speculation as to which players are leaving and who Reilly's bringing in? Somehow, I can't see the Gannon hierarchy canning him. Wonder if they are considering a name change to the Bronze Knights so as to reinforce the apparently newly accepted standard of mediocrity established by Reilly. Hey, 7th place in the PSAC West isn't so bad, is it?

    1. I had the blank comment problems as well. If you get on firefox, it seems to work just fine. Something with internet explorer apparently.

  8. Jim, you mentioned that Mercyhurst students left at halftime, but Gannon students are just as guilty, if not worse. At the Edinboro game, the bleachers were pretty full in the first half, with lots of Gannon students there, but at halftime there was a contest where one Gannon student was selected to make some shots for a nice prize, and as soon as the contest concluded, practically all of the students took off, leaving the bleachers in the second half 50 percent filled at best. Apparently, the students who left were more interested in a chance at the prize than the game. And that has happened many times in the past. If you've ever been to a Mercyhurst men's or woman's hockey game, by the way, you will find that their students provide excellent support to those programs, and stay the entire game. (What a stroke of genius it was many years ago for Mercyhurst to develop Division I hockey programs, they have put the school on the national map, whereas Gannon is only on parts of the Pennsylvania map.)

  9. GU Fanman,, Gary, and Walter: I believe Ewensel is correct. Internet Explorer seems unable to keep up with Blogger's updates. I use Firefox and haven't had any problems. Also, when I was discussing this problem with my brother at the Mercyhurst game, and MC student overheard us and said it's an Internet Explorer issue. The kid was about 20, so you know his internet-related advice was correct.

    Lifer: I agree that the Gannon students don't support the team. I didn't see any students at the game. I thought at least some football players would make the trip. The students are mostly to blame for the pathetic atmosphere at the MAC Wednesday.

  10. Jim -- really enjoyed the open letter. Puts things in perspective, especially the part about how opponents used to fear playing at the Jammermill. Speaking of which . . .

    Yes, the Knights have some close losses. That kind of thing cuts both ways. Take away Gannon's two one-point OT wins at Kutztown and Millersville and their record is 6-9. Also worth noting that if the crossover games didn't count in the conference standings, which was the case in previous years, Gannon would be 0-3 in the PSAC.

    In 1974 Gannon fired Dave Markey after a 15-11 season. This produced an uproar in the community because Markey was a likeable guy who ran a clean program and his players stayed and graduated. The college, however, determined his career won-loss percentage of .602 to be unacceptable. Reilly's is currently .604. Markey had one losing season in four years (the losing season was in his first year). Reilly's had three losing seasons so far, including a .346 percentage in the 2006-07 campaign, the second worst percentage in the entire history of Gannon basketball (only the 1946-47 team was worse, .111).

    Also agree with your assessment of student support at the games. No one is ever going to mistake them for the Cameron Crazies. Or the Lock Haven Looney. But I do LOVE all the long timers who faithfully turn out for the Golden Ones. To all of them, THANK YOU!! Yes, sometimes when I walk into the Audi I think I've stumbled into a Springhill commercial, but how great is it that Gannon has such dedicated fans. They've helped make this program what it is. You just don't see this at the Hurst or Boro. And I hope I'm still able to get to the games if I get older, like the gentleman who has been attending in a wheelchair this season and sits on the north end. Hasn't missed a game. I've seen him at games for as long as I can remember. He's one of those faces in the crowd that you instantly recognize at the games but you don't know his name or anything about him other than he's one of us. And that's enough.

  11. for those of you who have trouble viewing this on IE, what version do you have? if you have an older version, that could be why. Try downloading internet explorer 9 and see if that works. (search for internet explorer 9 and you will find the download page). Hope this helps.

  12. Corey and Jim

    many thanks for the guidance on the blank screen issue. Just downloaded Firefox and no viewing problems. By the way, Cory, was running Internet Explorer 9 so do not think the version is the issue. Again, thanks for the help as I was missing my Gannon hoops fix.

  13. I can't explain the lack of Gannon student support anymore, there has to be something better that can be done to perhaps market the upcoming games within the Gannon Housing (Dorms especially)

  14. I was horribly disappointed at the Edinboro game with the fans. The cheerleaders had about as much cheer in them as fans in a morgue. The school needs to promote more entertaining incentives to go to the game. Create an atmosphere of fun and they will come. How many of us loved seeing Gumby?? Bring him back and I bet you will have many old timers come back to the Jammermill. Simple marketing with themed nights for the students.