It's difficult to select a top storyline from Gannon's come-from-16-points-behind, blow-the-lead, come-from-behind again, blow-another-lead-in-overtime, dodge-a-bullet 77-73 win at Edinboro. I thought what keyed the Knights' victory was their aggressive, up-tempo offense led by point guard Adam Blazek. We saw early in the season that Gannon is special in the open floor, and we've seen over the past six weeks that GU's half-court offense is ordinary. (We also saw Wednesday night that Gannon's press breaker may be shakier than Blessed Sacrament's. Oy.)
For the rest of the season I suggest John Reilly coach the defense as usual and then when the Knights secure the ball sit down have an assistant motion his arm like a third base coach waving a runner home while yelling "Push! Push! Push!" I'm not kidding. When Blazek was on his giddyup, the Knights kept Edinboro off balance and scored in bunches. After a quiet first half (4 points, 0 3-point attempts, 2 fouls), Blazek went to work in the second period. He made 6-of-10 field goals (many of them early in the shot clock), hit on all 4 of his 3-point attempts, and kept the tempo in Gannon's favor. A former Prep teammate of Blazek's was sitting behind me at the game, and said after the freshman's first trey, "He's feeling it!"
If the Knights can keep getting stops consistently -- which could lead to more breakouts and no opportunity for opponents to press them -- and Blazek continues to hesitation dribble, spin-move, and slash when he gets the ball, Gannon will pull out more victories like we saw at McComb Fieldhouse.
* While Blazek earns the game's #1 star, T.J. Wilson get #2 or maybe even #1a. Wilson's first-half stat line was a dud: 20 minutes, 0 points, 0-for-3 shooting, and 4 rebounds. But when his evening was over (Wilson fouled out in OT), the energetic junior had racked up a Summors-esque 15 points and 16 rebounds. He also made 5-of-6 free throws to keep GU in the game and provided amazing energy. Before leaving the floor after fouling out, Wilson grabbed the jersey of his replacement Tanner Furno and implored his teammate to finish off the Scots. Then after the final buzzer, Wilson turned to the Gannon fans behind the bench, raised his arms over his head, and let out a primal yell. I love the kid.
* Heck, I love this entire team. They could have tanked it yesterday after falling behind big but instead chose to play with incredible positive emotion. And I'm not just talking about the guys on the floor. The GU/EUP highlight video on the Gannon website was shot from near the GU bench and you can see every guy on the roster imploring their teammate to win the game. In a season that would make some guys want to give up basketball altogether, this team has acted unselfishly and continued to play with intensity.
* Check out the box score when you get a chance. Lots of unusual numbers such as Gannon's 55-38 rebounding edge including 17-4 on the offensive glass, Brandon Belt 0-for-10, post man Darrell Blanton 6-for-17, and Scot Isiah Prince going 10-for-28.
* My brother Rob couldn't make the game but I knew he was following it at home. So when Gannon was down 16 in the first half, I texted this message to him, "Holy crap. Emphasis on 'crap.'" He replied, "Don't worry. We'll come back only to lose at the buzzer." What do you think was on my mind when Edinboro had the ball the final possession of regulation with the score tied?
* My brother also pointed out to me that Gannon had extremely balanced scoring at the half. GU's 18 points were divided this way: 4, 4, 4, 2, 2, 2.
* GU SID Dan Teliski has informed me that the Knights have played 4 overtime games in a season for only the second time in the program’s 68-year history. The 1987-88 team that advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight also played overtime four times. Both times, the teams went 2-2 in those overtime games.
* I think John Leisering earned the Triple Crown this season. He did the PA at Edinboro for the Gannon game, subbed at Gannon earlier this season to handle PA duties, and sang the national anthem before the Gannon at Mercyhurst game this season. When does Behrend play next and will John be on the mic going for the Grand Slam?
* One more thought: Worst white out ever.