I work at Jameson Publishing, and one of the benefits we enjoy is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP provides a wide range of services including assistance with personal problems, family and relationship issues, wellness, and work/life balance. I bring this up because I'm requesting that Gannon starts an FAP -- Fan Assistance Program -- to help all of us struggling through this season. The Knights, who everyone expected much from this season, are now 10-10 overall and on the brink of PSAC playoff elimination after Saturday's sickening 68-67 home loss to Cal.
Even before the horrifying loss, Gannon fans were berserk. When I bump into fans at the Hammermill, I usually hear comments such as, "Blanton's great, but I still love Glen Summors more", "Blazek's better than I expected" and "the women's team is really starting to play well." But what did I hear prior to and at halftime of the Cal game? Comments like, "I'm sick of this" and "I can't take this anymore." If we had an FAP, I could point them to someone who could help. All I could say to folks is, "We've had so many close losses, there's no way this streak can continue." And then Cal sticks a three with 7 seconds left in the game to win by a point. Incredible.
I'm stunned how Gannon's offensive productivity has dropped off this season. After their 74-54 drubbing of Mansfield on Feb. 7, GU was flying high with a 6-2 PSAC mark and pouring in over 80 ppg. But against the real teams in the PSAC West this season (that's a nice way of saying don't count winless Lock Haven), the Knights are averaging only 64.4 ppg and have a pathetic 1-6 win/loss record in those games. I know several Gannon Hoops followers believe that's a result of physical fatigue, but I'm not so sure. I think offensive execution -- weak screens, little dribble penetration, predictable plays, poor three-point shooting -- is a bigger contributor.
And where I think this team is most fatigued is mentally. Intense college basketball seasons wear on your brain more than they do your back, and this season is a few weeks longer than normal because of the Knights' mid-October Canadian exhibition tour. Additionally of the 7 Knights who have played all 20 games this season, only one guy (Tanner Furno) has been through this before on the Division II level. Adam Blazek was in high school last year while rest of the crew played junior college ball, where defensive intensity isn't necessarily required.
I was really hopeful a week ago that the IUP game could be a turning point for the Knights. But two losses later I'm simply trying to find a place to turn for help.