Seven days ago, us Gannon fans were tossing daggers at the team, the coaching staff, and each other lamenting a season gone bad. Today the sun is shining on us (figuratively, not literally) after a 2-0 week capped off by Gannon's 91-80 victory at Clarion Saturday night. Who would have thought a club coming off two home losses (59-48 to IUP and 68-67 to Cal) could suck it up, get its scoring groove back, and stay in PSAC playoff contention?
About the PSAC playoffs: it's still going to be a longshot for the Knights. As Golden89 outlined in the comments below, the Knights have to win two more games than Cal over the final four games of the regular season. Let's set the scene for Gannon's playoff chances in the PSAC West:
1. IUP (15-3): Last night's thumping of Mercyhurst pretty much locked up the #1 spot in the West.
2. Mercyhurst (13-5): Technically the 10-8 Knights could catch the Lakers, but that would require Mercyhurst to repeat last year's late season final five game epic fail. Remaining games: @ GU, vs. Cal, vs. Edinboro, at LHU.
3. Slippery Rock (12-6): The Rock got a big W last night at Edinboro to extend their win streak to 3. The Knights could catch Slippery Rock, but SRU's last game of the season is vs. Clarion, and we know they'll mail it in if their postseason chances are dashed by that point. Remaining games: vs. Cal, at IUP, vs. GU, vs. Clarion.
4. California (11-7): Cal is as hot as Slippery Rock, running its win streak to 3 win a hammering of hapless Lock Haven Saturday night. If Vulcan Chad Tipton hadn't nailed that three to beat Gannon, the Knights would be in the PSAC playoffs driver's seat instead of Cal. But Cal has the tiebreaker over GU, so Gannon needs to finish a full game ahead of CU in the final standings. Remaining games: @ Slippery Rock, @ Mercyhurst, vs. Clarion, @ Edinboro.
5. Gannon (10-8): Don't look now, but Gannon has won two straight and still has a game to play vs. winless Lock Haven. GU had better be 3-0 heading to IUP for the season finale; there's zero margin for error over the next 11 days. Remaining games: vs. Mercyhurst, vs. Lock Haven, at Slippery Rock, at IUP.
6. Clarion (10-8): The Eagles have lost three straight but should get well Wednesday vs. Lock Haven. I wouldn't bet money on them to finish the season on a win streak, though. Remaining games: vs. LHU, vs. Edinboro, @ Cal, @ Slippery Rock.
I agree with my main man Golden89 that Gannon still has less than a 50/50 shot at a PSAC playoff bid. Based on what we saw from the Knights this past week, you might feel confident. But this team's longest winning streak of the year is just three (back in Dec. vs Cheyney, Ship, and Malone), so it's hard to count on them ripping off 5 or 6 straight. And I guess I don't see a motivated Cal team dropping its final two games to Clarion and Edinboro.
Pessimism aside, I'm eager for a Hurst/Peach Street Kids classic Wednesday. This Gannon team hasn't produced the most wins in school history, but they've made nearly every game an adventure.
* If Adam Blazek doesn't get PSAC West Player of the Week honors, I'd like to see the stats of the guy who does. In two key road wins, Blazek averaged 31.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3 assists, and 2.5 steals while shooting 21-for-33 from the field (63.6%), 6-for-8 on threes, and 15-of-16 from the foul line. UPDATED 2/13/12: Blazek was officially named PSAC West Player of the Week today.
* Press releases are usually pretty bland, but Gannon SID Dan Teliski had some golden nuggets in his Gannon/Clarion game summary: "The story Saturday night was about a Golden Knight playing his first career game at W.S. Tippin Gymnasium and another who was playing his 44th. Blazek won the match-up of PSAC Western Division Freshman of the Year frontrunners with Clarion's Winfield Willis by pouring in 37 points during his first visit to Clarion, equaling the 11th-highest single-game total in school history. The freshman guard became the first Golden Knight to total 37 points in a game since Shelby Chaney netted 37 points against Daemen on December 29, 2005. Meanwhile, Carty made his first return visit after playing three seasons (2008-10) for the Golden Eagles. The senior guard was held scoreless in the first half, before scorching the nets for 15 points in the second half."
* How would you like to be Clarion coach Dr. Ron Righter this morning? Your playoff chances are dealt a body blow, and one of the guys doing the most damage is a former player of yours. Ouch.
* BIG THANKS to everyone who reads this blog or participates in the comments section. You've helped made this an incredibly entertaining week. Over the past seven days, Gannon Hoops has received over 5,000 page views and in the month of January set an all-time site record with nearly 13,500 page views. Thanks again, and we'll see you at the Audi on Wednesday.