Not making the PSAC playoffs for the second consecutive season is a bummer, but I was extra disappointed how the Knights looked tonight during their 65-50 loss at IUP. I guess I was expecting a superhuman, last hurrah effort, but GU appeared to be playing out the string. The Knights floundered on offense (38% FG, 2-for-10 on threes) and gave up several wide open shots to the Crimson Hawks.
Watching on the Crimson Hawk Sports Network -- which thought Gannon's nickname was the Golden Eagles and GU's point guard was Adam BLAH-zek -- was surreal, and not just because of the amateurish announcers. The Knights appeared to be a step or two slow all evening. Part of the strangeness to me was Alvin Tucker receiving so much playing time. Tucker played 25 total minutes vs. IUP including the first 16 of the second half. I'm something of an expert on the DNP-CD (Did Not Play - Coach's Decision) statistic, and Tucker has had 9 of those this season. I'm just curious what changed the final three games of the season for him to see so much action.
So you can stick a fork in the 2011-12 season, and you can put a fork in the road for the Gannon program. What's next for the Knights? Is next year the breakthrough season for this group? We know GU will lose two players from the 12-man roster (seniors Shameel Carty and Steve Piotrowicz), but who else won't be back? Over the past two seasons the Gannon program has experienced a 60% turnover rate in its underclassmen (according to my count, 15-of-25 non-seniors left the team before their eligibility expired), so you have to figure at least one player will bolt.
I'm depressed talking about next year already. My annual hope for March Madness is to watch the Knights make a run for the conference title and compete in the NCAA tournament. I don't want to be sitting in the stands at Mercyhurst's home playoff game wishing on a star that Gannon will be part of the big dance a year from now. When Gannon was eliminated from playoff contention last year I wrote a post titled "I've Got That Crummy Feeling Again." That article included this excerpt: "I'm sure everyone connected with the program -- players, coaches, administrators, and fans -- will wonder all off-season what could have been if ________ (fill in one play from any of Gannon's incredibly disappointing league losses). That's a pretty crummy feeling."
I'm learning the hard way it feels even crummier the second time around.