Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Run, Adam, Run. Win, Gannon, Win.

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.

Knight Knotes:
* 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.

44 comments:

  1. Belt, Wilson and Blanton start the game 0 for 9, must be fatigue right? T I C

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  2. Very good point Competitive Edge. Obviously they're tired from the bus trip! If only people knew what really went on and not just what they "hear from a reliable source".

    (what is T I C)

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  3. Wowo did they look tired today

    Obviously Adam has long since hit the freshman wall from overwork

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    1. Obviously, as demonstrated by his 6 for 6 performance from the line in overtime. Its obvious that Reilly is working him to hard, missing foul shots is a result of fatigue after all...wait a minute....

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    2. and 4 for 4 from three...poor kid, doesn't have the strength to get the ball to the bask...wait...what?

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  4. Corey, "tongue in cheek" meaning I was being sarcastic, not wanting to confuse anyone into thinking that "fatigue" is a valid excuse for our record.

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  6. Gotcha. I knew it was sarcasm but I am glad your clarified because there are many on this site that would not have known that. They're probably getting ready for tomorrow's 10 hour practice.

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  7. They won a close game, it is possible! Well 1 down, 5 to go. At least it is a start

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  8. Gannon is now 3-7 when the margin of score is 5 or less.

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  9. I heard a taking head say recently on ESPN - "Young teams lose close games"

    Maybe they are just that, a young team, not a physically/emotionally drained shell of an organization...

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  10. Actually, Reilly has made some changes recently, and it seemed to show in the play of the team, particularly at the end of the game.

    First, he HAS shortened practice by about an hour a day. Second, tonight, he actually rested Blazek for 5 minutes and reduced Blanton's minutes from what he had been playing. Third, he played Battle(17 minutes) and Carty (11 minutes) more tonight. Amazing-maybe those who have been saying that the coach is participating on this blog are right! He listened and made the necessary changes. TIC

    As for the first half, Edinboro came out with a ton of energy, particularly on defense, and shot the ball really well right from the start. They did not give GU many good shot opportunities. Their good play was more of a reason for their first half lead than anything Gannon did. However, it seemed like the Boro thought they had the game won at halftime, as they did not come out with that same intensity at all, and their shot selection was a lot poorer. Meanwhile GU turned it up a couple notches. By the time the Boro got the ship righted, the game was tied, and it was a slugfest from there on out. Reilly also made a key defensive shift late in the game when he moved Blanton onto Summerville instead of Wilson, who was having trouble staying with the Boro post man. That took away one of EU's main offensive options late.

    You could make the argument that Reilly burned through his timeouts too quickly in the first half, but he coached his rear end off tonight, and his energy in the second half seemed to lift his team to a great effort. They played with a similar effort this past Saturday, but Cal seemed more determined than EU did tonight.

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  11. PS: It would be a mistake to count this team out just yet....

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  12. Great game, but I think the team really showed that they are a young team...at least in the first half. Which means brighter things to come for this team. I agree, they did look exhausted from Coach Reilly beating them down at practice obviously Coach W. must have longer practices. T.I.C. LOL

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  13. For anyone who was at the game; about the girls game:

    1) What happened to Lowe? She was shooting great and had 13 points.. and it didn't appear she played at all in 2nd half? Injury?

    also re: girls. Looking at their roster, they are only graduating 2 seniors, and they only have maybe a handful of jrs and sophs this year. Yet next season they already inked 5 more players. Can you redshirt 10 players a season? haha

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  14. WOW...great blog so far, all positive.
    Also great game Knights keep it going!!!

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  15. Corey: Lowe did play in the 2nd. half (11min.)

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    1. Oh, alright. I just watched stats and she just must not have been in for the brief time I watched the stats. Gannon was up by 5 and then like 3 minutes later down by 13 so I stopped watching. thanks Bill!

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  16. Maybe we can get Will Ferrell to introduce the lineup at the upcoming GU/'Hurst game ---

    http://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/msn/video_will_ferrell_does_bulls_hornets_player_introductions/9832978

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  17. All of you making a joke about the fatigue issue are displaying how little you actually know about basketball. Almost every prominent coach including Dean Smith, Bobby Knight, Mike Kryszewski(sp) and many more have written and said that shortening practices and limiting minutes, particularly as the season winds into February are crucial to a team performing at their optimum level.

    All you have to do is look at the results. Now that the length of GU's practices have been substantially trimmed back, as several players told me last weekend had happened last week after the IUP game, and players are being given more rest during games, GU has made two of their best efforts of the season in their last 2 games. What a coincidence!

    As for the women's game and Lowe, Edinboro switched a different defender (don't know all their player's names, so I don't know who it was), a much quicker player, on Lowe in the second half, and GU couldn't get her the ball where she likes to shoot it. Since Lowe is a great catch and shoot player, stopping her from getting the ball at her favorite spots was the key.

    Despite the loss, the experience gained last night by the Lady Knights will pay off down the road. Edinboro is a quick, talented, athletic team that plays hard. The GU girls will learn from that loss.

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    1. Only reason I'm making a joke about fatigue is because of the people that are making it sound like they are having 10-hour practices, twice a day and that fatigue is the only reason they're losing (well obviously the coaching has been brought up by several, but besides that.. they're blaming it on fatigue).

      Also, after Duke beat UNC last night, Coach Kryszewski said in the post-game interview that he "doubled the team's practice intensity and had 2 extra practices in preparation for the game". Duke never once looked too fatigued to me. Even after UNC made the run, they were still in it.

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    2. I have a Ph.D. in kinesiology, I think I may know a little something.

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    3. Kinesiology, also known as human kinetics is the scientific study of human movement. Kinesiology addresses physiological, mechanical, and psychological mechanisms. Applications of kinesiology to human health include: biomechanics and orthopedics, rehabilitation, such as physical and occupational therapy, as well as sport and exercise

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  19. Positive Gannon fans can't have any fun but OUR comments can be made into a joke??? Love it. So recovery time after 4 months of detrimental, tough, mentally draining, physical workouts and they are recovered in a week? Observor you are really displaying how little you actually know about training. We are just having a bit of some positive fun your style.

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  20. Let's stop the back-and-forth sniping please. Let's talk about Gannon Hoops, not each other. We all pay money to watch them but nobody would pay money (even $1) to watch us. Thanks.

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  21. Agree with Jim above. It's always interesting to read the comments on this blog, although it would be much more interesting to stay positive and try to support the hoops squad through a tough year. Sometimes life isn't always as simple and easy as one would like; and sometimes you don't win every game. Many times, the ball doesn't bounce your way. Being a Gannon alum, I enjoy cheering on the hoops team year in and year out. It's enjoyable to go and watch the team play their hearts out on the court (i.e...Belt diving after a loose ball late in the second have and dislodging the scorers table even though he had a miserable game from the field, Blazek being unconscious most of the year as a true freshman, Blanton playing like a 6'8" skywalker when in reality he might be 6'3", just to name a few). It's far to easy to sit behind a keyboard a pass judgement, criticize, and find negatives in the program when you aren't "winning" the close games. It's even easier when nobody knows your name.
    What I enjoy about this year's squad and teams of the past is that they are good kids. You don't hear about the team getting in trouble off the court, being jerks on the court, or not carrying their weight in the classroom. You don't see the coaching staff causing, or being problems on or off the court. Sure you have some defections of players, but the way I look at it, if they aren't willing to buy in to the program and go all in, they shouldn't be here. You never know what your are going to get out of an 18, 19, 20, 21 year old. Gannon is in the PSAC, not the SEC, Big East, ACC, etc. The school doesn't rely on the hoops team to make millions of dollars. Grant it, the games can be frustrating at times. But we should enjoy a hard fought, entertaining basketball game. Win or lose. Life is also different at GU then it was in the mid to late 80's. I'd much rather have a coaching staff that does things the right way, both on and off the court, then to wonder if the program is legit. It's unfortunate that we all tend to pass judgement in a negative way, much quicker than in a positive way.

    For the sake of the program now, and in the future, let's keep this blog positive. If the player's do read this, keep playing your tails off. The ball will start dropping your way! Go GU!

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    1. Good job pointing out Belt diving into the scorer's table instead of moping about his cold shooting. Great example of this team playing crazy hard.

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  22. Critiquing does not equal negative; its constructive criticism. What is not constructive is blaming the bounce of a ball or basketball gods for the state of an average program. If all the blog is going to be is a bunch of niceties, then its pointless.

    With that being said, I give the PLAYERS credit for scrapping out a win last night after a terrible first half.

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    1. I agree 100% with your sentiments. Not much more will show up on here if all we're going to do is talk about fatigue and its (non) influence on the team, or how things could be so much worse. Personally, I think there's room for a lot more analysis of yesterday's game, the players, the coaching, the team dynamics and the relationship to the community.

      If people are interested more in constructive criticism and accolades of the hard work all put into by men's and women's hoops at Gannon, perhaps we should just try to do so elsewhere. I have a new link attached to my profile, where we can try to start that discussion should others be interested.

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    2. Well I agree with the idea of the analysis of the game Xs and Os, there's no way anyone can discuss this team without the fatigue factor. Just because it didnt show in one game doesnt mean its not going to come back and hasnt caused problems in the past.

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    3. No disagreement. I just mean that it's become *the* discussion point as of late.

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    4. No critiquing does not equal negativity. But when it's "Reilly needs to go; he's awful". That's negative; not constructive criticism.

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    5. Yup - classy... which your "blog" is not. Joke!

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    6. Corey, there is no need to make this a personal attack. I never made my comment that way. There's clearly two intents at the discourse expected regarding Gannon, and my intent was solely to create a peace between the two. I respect (never have not) Jim's work here. It is clear, however, that some fans are seeking constructive criticism that others don't want to see. Simply put, it's two different ways of looking at things.

      Never, ever, have I said "he's awful" or anything character assassinating. The few comments I have left have said to consider the whole of work (number of blow outs in past 3 years, for instance), the relationship w/ the community (re: season ticket holders and their economics), relaying comments re: opponent coaching and former players, and that I believe that constructive criticism is key to growth personally and professionally. Furthermore and primarily, my initial comment suggested that we encourage students, their efforts and motivation, not belabor the fatigue that this team may or may not be facing.

      No one said a) that this secondary blog has to exist as a slap in the face to the first, b) that there's a monopoly on discussion re: Gannon basketall. You've read into it ideas that are simply not true. All I said was I'm more than willing to start something IF people want space to analyze differently without the backlash that seems to have occurred recently. I do want to reiterate what I said above; that I'd love to see more coverage of women's hoops, which for any number of understandable reasons does not occur here. If nothing else, I do believe that women's team deserves far better fan support than what they receive at present and perhaps a blog would serve as a tertiary catalyst, if nothing else.

      But beyond any of this, you can disagree w/ what you think may be my intention, but please, do so with w/o attacking me personally. I'm not an awful person - and I promise, my intent was never to come across as negative towards Jim or anyone else unhappy with the critique of late.

      Jim, if my comment above/idea was taken that way, I apologize. I hope my intent, if not before, is now clear.

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    7. 1) I was not saying that you were the one being negative nor did I say that you said "he's awful". I was saying that in response to whomever above said that critiquing doesn't equal negativity. That was not geared towards you at all.
      2) your blog is a slap in the face to Jim's. Simply because of the way you "introduced" it to everyone. The way I read your statement about it was "If anyone doesn't like having to censor somewhat what they say in this blog, come to mine." if it's just me that took it that way then it is, but that's how I took it and I thought it was low.

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  23. #13 ranked nationally IUP outscored by 17 at Cal last night in second half.

    IUP's entire coaching staff should be replaced!!!!

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    Seriously,a fantastic job by entire team last night in 2nd half. Yet, a bounce or two at any given time could have meant a different outcome. Fortunately, a close game ends up on the winning side of the ledger.

    Still enjoyin' this win!!

    Onto a wounded, but very talented and dangerous Clarion squad Saturday night. They are the one team that, on any given night (if they show up), can embarrass every team in the PSAC.

    Should be fun!!

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  24. If you are going to cite sources please do so correctly - if you have read any of the 3 knight books(Season on the Brink, His own Man, or My 5 season..), or Carril's 'Smart take from the strong', or 'Season is a Lifetime' you would see they reference the downturn come tourney time...

    But it is nice to see people putting Riels on the same level of the those other three. His strategy of advance training followed by rest to improve the pschological and physical toughness is BRILLIANT

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  25. oops!!.....Correction: IUP outscored by 18 in second half to lose at Cal 65-54.

    Go figure.

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  26. I think that some pressure seems to be off the GU team so to speak after that close win yesterday. I was at the cafe for dinner, and saw the whole team was there. I have not seen them that relaxed in the past couple of weeks. Period. On the court and off. I think a weight got lifted off of there shoulders after winning a close game. Hope the trend continues.

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  27. My favorite moment of the entire game was one moment you pointed out. I caught TJ and Tanner's interaction; it was a moment I saw a younger man teaching one of his 'seniors' and it highlighted the level of intensity and comraderie that you want to see on a team. My second favorite was after Adam hit the jumper near the end of regulation. I looked to the bench and saw Dmitry jumping higher than I've ever seen the kid move on the court. He may not have been on the court, but when you see guys who have certainly been a disappointment on some level this second half of the season as engaged as the starter who replaced him (and R.Wilson and Bubby), you know you've got a team with some tremendous heart.

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  28. Thank you Jim, I totally agree with your post. I apologize for my response above. I do want to stay out of the bickering and continue positive momentum for our Gannon Knights. I think this team's interactions with each other on the court truly shows they are functioning well off the court together. I have high hopes for next year and hope they continue to move forward this year. Yup-My fav moment was that with TJ and Tanner too.

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