Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vexed, Hexed, And What's Next

I'm dividing my reaction to Gannon's 68-65 home loss to Mercyhurst into three sections:

VEXED: I'm not sure if this is the most frustrating, exasperating season in Gannon basketball history or if it's the collection of the most exciting, pulse-soaring games I've ever witnessed crammed into four months. This was now the third consecutive game I've watched in person where on my ride home I didn't need to turn on the car heating system because my nervous energy kept me warm in 30-degree temperatures. Gannon Hoops is supposed to be a stress reliever for me but this year it's been a stress inducer pretty much every single game. Look at the GU schedule and see how many enjoyable, win-going-away games they've had (7) vs. nailbiters/losses (15). If John Reilly wasn't such a good guy and this team wasn't such an admirable bunch of hard workers, this strange campaign would almost be comical because of its absurdity.

HEXED: Daemen shoots 57% in the second half and Gannon's potential game-winning shot at the buzzer misses. West Chester rallies from 7 down late to beat the Knights in OT. Seton Hill's Oliver McGlade finds nothing but net after he chucks one up from midcourt at the end of the second overtime. Edinboro storms back from 13 down to win. A Gannon turnover while holding the lead (and the shot clock off) haunts them at Mercyhurst. Up 11, GU loses to surging Slippery Rock. The Knights watch as Chad Tipton's three in the final seconds gives Cal a one-point win. Wednesday after trailing by 17 to Mercyhurst, Gannon rallies within two and gets a steal with 17 seconds left, only to be whistled for traveling. And what do you think happened on Darrell Blanton's game-tying attempt when the Knights trailed by three? In-and-out. Of course.

WHAT'S NEXT: This team will play hard. They'll annihilate Lock Haven Saturday. They'll compete at Slippery Rock and IUP. On Feb. 25, Gannon's season will officially end, and everyone will be disappointed. Some of us will lash out at the coaches; some will lash out at each other. I'll have to delete some comments. Several fans will support the team and look forward to next year. We'll scratch our collective heads over an 8-7 home record. We'll wonder who will come back. We'll watch other teams in the playoffs, gnash our teeth, and wonder if we'll do this for a third year in a row.

Note: You're probably wondering what that photo is at the top of this post. It's what was leaning against my office door this morning at Jameson Publishing, my employer for the past 13 years. If you look closely, it's a dust pan with the Gannon pocket schedule on it. I didn't have to ask anyone where it came from. Dave Lanahan, a former standout at North East HS and Mercyhurst College basketball player, made me the gift to commemorate the Lakers' sweep of Gannon this season. I deserved it. Dave can pour salt in my wounds, but he can't take away my career 10-0 record vs. Mercyhurst when I suited up for GU. Unfortunately, that's all I got these days ...


  1. I'm so excited, that I am wearing facepaint for the game. Wait, I do that every game. Anyway, I am more excited than usual for a game. Hoping for a very filled hammermill for this one, and more importantly hoping for a GU win!

  2. All GU fans need to get there early to support
    our ladies. McU will be no walk in the park.
    Both McU teams think this is there season and
    would like to shove it in our face, well I'm not buying it. Get early, get a good seat and get loud. Wear your maroon to drown out the green.
    BE THERE... that's an order from the GU Fanman :)

  3. 11:36 first half -- Hurst 8, GU 3. To quote former Laker coach Bill Morse, we set the game of basketball back several years. Knights are 1/12.

  4. I have a theory...those kids hitting all those half court shots for $250 are sapping up the all the home court magic.

    Either that or fatigue...

    (kidding kidding)

  5. Hey good news guys....."They are buying into the Gannon system."

    **Wake Up Reilly, It's over! Starting to get better? Face reality, it's over.**

  6. Well the season is basically over. Played awful in the 1st half, and only really played damn well at the end, but it was too late. It was sad that for a while the hammermill was filled with more Mercyhurst cheering than Gannon cheering. As far as I am concerned, the student section is DEAD. When it comes to the team, hey showed heart at the end, just wasn't enough.

  7. What an insult and slap in the face to the Gannon students. The McU students came over to the NE section of the mill labeled "GANNON STUDENTS" took it over as there own and outcheered the Gannon kids.
    No shame to Ev and his crew they did the best they could but were so outnumbered by McU.

    1. I don't know what was worse. A. They outcheered us, or B. They bullied Tommy out of his seat over in that section, where he was at before all the MU students came over. The alumni did their usual good job in my book, especially near the end with the noise, can't explain the alumni to yell like they are 20. lol...Just the student body doesn't give two craps.

  8. Reilly loses the team another game. He calls the last time out with about 8 minutes left to play, despite the fact that a media came out came after the next dead ball. (You think one of those five gray shirt clones could keep track of the timeout situation).

    A time out sure would have come in handy when Blazek got the loose ball down on Mercyhurst's end, but instead he traveled trying to wiggle around and find another open Gannon guy. A time out would have been nice after Mercyhurst hit the free throw to go up by 3, so GU could draw up a play. However, I'm kidding myself into thinking that Reilly has plays to draw up. As the last possession indicated, if its not Blazek hitting the shots, noone is going to score. I dont fault Adam, he was getting double teamed. But any coach worth his weight would know that one of the hottest players in the league would face a double team and draw up a play for someone other than Blazek. Forcing Blanton to shoot a three (his third attempt all season) is not a real play. Its one thing if this happens once. It has happened game after game after game. Year after year after year.

    THEN Reilly has the nerve to blame the loss on GU not getting enough loose balls. The Knights guys nearly broke all their bones in their bodies diving and Reilly some how decides this is not good enough. Diving for loose balls is not a game plan.

    Same old song. Time to fire Reilly.

    1. Jeremy,

      Blazek did exactly what he had to do on the last play of the game. If he tried to take a shot, it would have been a long shot for it to go in. Blanton had about as good of a look as we were going to get considering all the pressure that Blazek was under.

      And as far as the loose balls go, the team was diving all over the damn place trying to get them. Maybe they should have put a bit of stickam on their bodies before the game to make sure they would get the ball. There were other pressing problems that led to the lost tonight.

    2. I dont blame Adam one bit, it would have been a long shot when he was double teamed. I dont blame Blanton either. I blame the coaches for again failing to draw up a play to move the ball around and find an open shot. Pretty elementary part of the job description of a coach.

      I agree that loose balls was not the problem. Wish the coaching staff would see the same way.

    3. Sorry, know you didn't blame him in the original post. Just didn't quite word the start quite right. Still got the excitement going from the end of the game.

      Yeah, there had to be a better design when it came to a game ending shot.

      WOuld have been GREAT if we actually had a timeout left near the end of the game, could have used it during the loose ball or setting up the final play of the game.

      I guess it is time to start discussing next year or the prospects of the Women's team for the postseason. Men have been a damn heartbreak the past two years

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. *media time out. Too annoyed to type correctly

  11. McCoy: Please refrain from insults/name-calling in future posts. Thank you.

  12. One thing about the play when Blazek traveled during the scramble for the loose ball near the end of the game-I believe that GU owned the alternate possession arrow at that point-all he had to do was hold the ball and let MU tie him up. Can't blame Adam-that's something the coaching staff probably should have pointed out during the last timeout, which occurred just 12 seconds prior to that play.

    Still think that giving Blazek a minute or two on the bench while he struggled through a 1-8 first half wouldn't have hurt. Sometimes a struggling player is able to find his game while sitting out briefly. Not sure if GU could've played worse.

    Had to wonder, with GU needing to make a 3 to tie at the end, why TJ Wilson was in the game when either Belt, Battle, or both (with someone else sitting down), would've been a more likely successful 3 point shooter. If getting the rebound on the free throw was a concern, the sub(s) could've been waiting at the scorer's table. If the Hurst player missed, GU would've only needed a 2 to tie and the lineup on the floor would've been fine. When he converted the FT, the subs would've entered.

    GU again battled hard (yet ANOTHER one-possession loss-that's six this season), but I think that Mercyhurst is just a little deeper, and shot the ball much better, particularly in the first half. Leao obviously knows how to work the refs so that he can get open on offense and bump GU post men on defense without getting called for anything except the most obvious calls.

    Furno's injury didn't help, either. One thing MU doesn't have is sheer height. Even on one leg, Furno was able to post up for a score. Who knows how often they'd be able to do that if Tanner didn't get hurt. You'd think that GU has had more than their fair share of bad injury luck this season, but NOOO. Let's hope Tanner is able to play at close to 100% @ the Rock and IUP next week.

  13. If that last shot was by McU to win the game
    it would have went in.
    That's the kind of season its been.

  14. Cal losing last night: Net-net, still alive as one looks at the standings, albeit with one less game to play. (JR: Is that correct??)

    'Nother playoff game Saturday!!!

  15. Another close one coming back from 15 down. I like this team! Adam getting tangled up at the end had freshman written all over it. He has not faced a double team like that yet, Mercyhurst plays football on the court. These young players having a year under their belt with this type of energy adding the redshirts and we have a great team next year. It stinks we lost last night but what I saw was a team building in the right direction. It was great to hear the group of fans behind me realizing the same and discussing next year's potential! Great job Knights!

  16. 8 steals by blazek? Phenomenal!!!

  17. Same old song. Time to fire Jeremy.

    1. You can fire me, but you'll still get mediocre basketball at the Audi as long as this regime is in charge :)

  18. I cannot believe the posts I am reading above. Gannon lost their seventh home game this season, was swept by Mercyhurst, and are essentially eliminated from the playoffs and nearly everyone above is fine with that. A 13-13 record appears inevitable, but that doesn't seem to concern anyone. The last three seasons have simply been unacceptable, and this needs to change. I'm not sure why anyone on this board believes things will be different next year. I happen to agree with Jeremy. The time has come for a coaching change, and hopefully things will begin to improve next season.

  19. That's right, Golden Glen. Anybody who cares about this program ought to be out in the streets shouting "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!" Unfortunately, those people, other than Jim, are long gone. This blog was highjacked by a few people who demand that only positive comments be made. If you happen to post something negative they will hammer you like a Mitt Romney ad campaign. You can't talk bad about the coaches and players but the highjackers can talk smack on you all night long, just like the Lionel Ritchie song. And that totally STINKS because I used to love this blog. It was daily required reading. The commentary was insightful, interesting and well written. There was no bickering, and no mindless cheerleading, just intelligent conversation about Gannon Hoops. I miss that.

    Now days, you must post things that sound like the ruminations of giddy school girls. Or you are toast. That's why so many of the formerly regular contributors have left the blog.

    Well, at the risk of committing blog suicide, let's have at it. There is nothing positive about Reilly as a coach. He is a genuinely nice guy. He's an awful D-II basketball coach. Reilly, by every measure available, is the worst coach of the modern Gannon era. This has been documented to death for months. No need to hash through it all again. If he comes back, I'm not (not that what I do on Gannon hoop nights matters, I'm just saying I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired).

    Imagine being a Gannon player. On every possession there are three coaches yelling out instructions. Why is that? Don't they go over this stuff at practice? Anytime you the player look over at the bench there are three mouths screaming, six arms waving and six feet stomping on the floor. Who are you supposed to listen to? And why do they have to micromanage every possession, both on offense and defense? Again, just what do they do at practice? Certainly, we can cross last-shot-game-winning plays off the list.

    Last week some of the highjackers were talking about their favorite moments in the game, like when TJ grabbed Tanner's shirt and it was so beautiful . . . My least favorite moment at the Hurst game, maybe any game, was when Viscuso said something to Reilly right after a time out was called and Reilly turned to him and screamed in his face, "I don't care!!"

    There were some kids sitting right behind the Gannon bench watching this intently. Were they here on a recruiting visit? If they were I can't imagine them thinking, "Yeah, sign me up! I wanna play for that guy!" Now, I admit that it must take supreme patience to not get upset with Viscuso but, well, that's why I'm not making the big bucks, as they say.

    And I was thinking about the Mercyhurst roster. Lee, Coleman, Ingram, Bilbo, Dailey and some others, all new to the program and D-II this year. So why is the Hurst so good and Gannon, with its usual host of newcomers, isn't?

    I'm way past bored with going to the Hammermill and watching yet another team that, 23 games into the season, is just now buying into Reilly's system, as Reilly himself said on the radio Wednesday night.

    It's old, John.

    1. Well I just want to give another view of it. Want us to show up to the Lock Haven game on Saturday with pitchforks and torches trying to run the coaches out of town before the end of the season here?

      At this point, we are all damn frustrated about what has happened this season. How many times during a close game this season have we all thought "What is going to happen now to us?" Is part of the problem associated with coaching? Perhaps, or probably is the better answer. Is part of the problem mistakes by the players? The answer is yes. Is part of it just plain bad luck? Yes.

      As I qualified to say whether Coach Reilly should be gone after this season? Heck no I am not qualified to make that decision. I'm a damn grad school at the school right now. I don't know crap about basketball.

      I will say this, there definitely needs to be some things that are changed with the program. Whether it is Coach Reilly, a new coach, or whatever changes if anything, I strongly suggest whoever is at the helm next year take a look at the Women's team to see perhaps why they have in the last few years been so successful while the Men's team has nosedived outside of the Elite Eight run.

  20. Hmmm.....'Hurst, deservingly winning last night, and, the #10 team in the Atlantic Region "so good" and Gannon "isn't'?????

    'Hurst has 2 wins over us by a total of 4 points...and you are ready to throw in the towel??

    With fans like that..........

    Good night, Walter.....


    #4 ranked team in the country, Duke, has scored but 30 points at halftime tonite....and every coach(5 at least) is screaming, waving, and stomping their feet imploring their players to do better.

    We are all frustrated. But, most are going to stick with this team. I'm still of the opinion that it would be a big mistake not to.

    Walter......there are plenty of seats available, ALL THE TIME, up on the hill for you to sit in next year.

    Good luck!!........and...Go Knights!!!

  21. Very very well put Walter. But don't worry, just blame another mediocre basketball season on loose balls and bad luck, and the troubles go away with a rosy future is to follow!
    What a joke.

  22. This has to be a bitter loss for the team and coaching staff. I was sitting near the GU coaches, who always seem to coach like their lives depended on it. Last night, they were coaching as if their lives, as well as the future of the free world depended on it. I think that they are seeing the writing on the wall.

    I've never seen a team that plays this hard and does not get results. That's what make this season so vexing and perplexing. And unfortunately, you have to look at coaching. It always comes down to a bad decision or in last night's case, a lack of a time out or two down the stretch.

    Just like last night's game, it seemed like GU was down and buried on several occasions, to claw their way back in, and then Mercyhurst gets a killer lay-up. This happened on several occasions, before the final furious rally fell short.

    This is now how the season is going. Mid-January -- we're in trouble. Late January -- we're back in it. Early February -- we're done. Mid-February -- we're back in it. Last night -- we're done. Find out that Cal lost -- we still have an outside shot.

    So here's the way the rest of the season will go:

    GU will beat Lock Haven and pull one out at Slippery Rock. Cal will mount a semi-collapse and lose at Edinboro in the afternoon on the last day of the season. GU will have a shot that night against IUP and the Knights will lose in the final minute and Cal will back into the PSAC playoffs.

  23. Even in the unlikely event that GU would somehow defeat IUP and get into the playoffs instead of Cal, they would probably then have to go right back to IUP the following Tuesday and play them again in the first round of the playoffs. Lightning would never strike twice for this team. Heck, it hasn't even struck once. The way this season has gone, it's just not meant to be.

    It's too bad that so much has gone wrong with the numerous injuries (between Bubby, Battle, and Piotrowicz, I counted 38 missed man games so far, and, although Battle has been back for 5 games, he clearly isn't himself), the last second shots, and the numerous close losses. If none of that had happened, it would be clear to everyone that a coaching change would be necessary. However, with all that has happened, there is plenty of uncertainty. If the record was 12-11 without all these extenuating circumstances, there wouldn't be any doubt in anyone's mind.

    After the past football season, I was certain that GU would make a coaching change in football. The football team's results have been a lot worse than the basketball team's, but GU extended the football coach. That makes me think it isn't a foregone conclusion that Reilly will be fired because basketball is a lot more competitive in the league than football has. The only difference is that football has beaten Mercyhurst, even though they haven't even scored against Edinboro for the past 2 seasons.

    We'll see what happens as March arrives, I guess.

  24. I have been called many things in my lifetime but a blog "high jacker"?? That is great. I will continue to support this team because I enjoy Gannon basketball and the highs AND lows of sports competition. Being a former DII player I will NEVER bash a coach because the outsiders never know what goes on behind the scene. This team has kept up with great teams this year and only losing by a slim margin in most. I will take this record over Lock Haven's anyday! Last I knew this blog was all volunteer participation, all the Ego's can step aside if they choose. Go Gannon!!! Keep movin' forward, giddy school girls love basketball too!

  25. There does seem to be this attitude of two Reilly or everything is a-ok andlet's just keep saying it is.

    It seems to me that as adults we should be able to critique and praise this team, as long as it is within Jim's parameters of no name-calling, being civil, etc.

    I'm not sure why both opinions can't coexist on this board. The one thing we have in common, we all love GU basketball or we wouldn't even be posting here through such a gut-wrenching season.

    Oh, IMO, if I had any say in the matter, I WOULD NOT renew Reilly's contract. There is a difference between firing the coach and not renewing his contract. I see no good reason to extend Reilly.

  26. Thefauves1,

    You just stated it perfectly. We have two groups at the moment. One group wants Reilly out, and the other believes that the should stay. Last time I checked, everyone is entitled to their opinion as long as it is respectfully stated.

    Scary thought is with the season, the Clarion vs Cal game may become huge for our rooting interest on Wednesday. Clarion at least still has a reason to want to play, so if Cal can lose the next two games, we got a shot still. That IUP game is going to be VERY tough to win down there.

  27. Agreed. Why can't both camps coexist? It seems to me that the only off-limits comments are personal attacks on players and personal attacks on fellow blog posters.

  28. I think that not all of us fall into one of the two groups. For example, I haven't decided yet. As I have said before, I think that the addition of an assistant that has more of a clue on offense and could provide strategy input during the games would help immeasurably.

    Ideally, this coach would be the recruiting coordinator, because currently, I think Reilly is doing the bulk of that himself (at least I hope he is-I certainly hope Viscuso isn't doing it), and it is extremely difficult for the head coach to make all the necessary initial contacts that recruting requires. Typically, the recruiting coordinator does all the initial work in spotting and contacting possible recruits, then the head coach is brought in a lot later in the process to "close" on the prospects a school really wants. If GU hasn't been doing it that way since '08, that could explain why there haven't been any Joe Lindseys, Pierre Howards, Vince Mosleys, etc. walking through the Audi doors. I like the players we've been getting, but they've been all "B's" and "C's". To contend, a team needs to get an "A" or two into the program every so often.

    Anyway, I'd be asking Reilly about all of that before I made my decision. If he did agree to change that, I'd consider adding a year to his contract to see if it makes a difference. If he flat out refuses to alter the assistant lineup, that would make it a lot tougher to renew him, IMO.

  29. I believe that Reilly is getting the players he wants to come to Gannon. Hard working individuals that will buy into his system, which I believe, is make the game short with great defense, pound the ball to the post and shoot layups, get fouled or kick it out for the jumper. Unfortunately his post players have terrible hands and can't post up one on one. Once they bobble the pass the officials allow a scramble for the ball and we lose. That's nothing against the officials. You have to learn and get the players to compete in the league you join. We had the same problem the first few years in the GLIAC when the guards were allowed that first bump in the backcourt. Now that everyone knows we only score in transition and that our post players can't hold onto the pass we get the minimum of a double on Blanton and then double Blazek as the shot clock runs down. Reilly either has to change the playbook or get different players. Unfortunately I don't see him as the type to change his style. He got spoiled with Goldcamp in the middle with glue for hands.

  30. Observor- Looking at Rob Wilson's stats for his freshman and sophomore years...I would say Coach Reilly found an "A" player. Johnson didn't have enough time to showcase his talents and may be an "A" too he has a lot of energy. Next year Gannon will have 4 "Freshman of the year" players on the team eligible to play. I think the recruiting is going very well.