Saturday, May 5, 2012

Battle Bolts, Blogger Bummed

Yesterday the Erie Times confirmed what had been rumored by commenters on this site: former PSAC West Freshman of the Year Stephen Battle is leaving the Gannon team. The Times also received official confirmation from GU that Brandon Belt is bolting as well, but we knew that a couple weeks ago.

Sigh. I'm disappointed about this on several levels:

* I won't go as far as saying Battle was a one-of-a-kind player, but he was special. There weren't too many guys on the Division II level with his combination of size (6-foot-5, 205 pounds), athleticism, and scoring ability. Battle could score off the dribble, in the lane, and on the move. As a true freshman, he averaged 12.6 points and 6 rebounds a game while shooting 56% from the field. And he seemed to get better each week, playing more minutes and making more shots, many of them in the clutch. Remember when Gannon was down 1 at home to Edinboro with 30 seconds left to play -- who did Coach John Reilly draw up a play for? Battle, who nailed a baseline jumper with 10 seconds left to put Gannon up by a point. If he could do that as a freshman, how good could he have been with more experience?

* We never got to see Battle fully mature. A knee injury sidelined him for the entire month of January. His final game as a healthy Knight was one to remember: 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting and 10 rebounds in 44 minutes vs. Seton Hill.

* My last frustration is more global to the Gannon team. I like watching players develop over four years, and I haven't had the chance to see that much lately. Part of the reason Matt Jones is one of my all-time favorite Knights is because of his slow start as a freshman. He didn't even score his first semester in a GU uniform, but at the end of his senior year he was hard to guard. Winning basketball is fun to watch for sure, but player development is just as special a treat in my book.

With Battle (8.6 ppg) and Belt (9.1 ppg) no longer Knights, Gannon must replace its #4 and #5 leading scorers from a year ago. As far as new players, I don't have anything concrete to share with you: the PSAC Letters of Intent web page doesn't list any potential Knights and I've only received one rumor in my email inbox. The rumor is that point guard DeJuan McGaughy, a standout last year at Mercyhurst-North East, is still interested at Gannon but he has offers from some low Division I schools which he and his family are leaning towards.

Other than that, I haven't heard of other players potentially interested in playing for Gannon. And I hope I don't hear about anyone else leaving.

33 comments:

  1. Even though Battle's departure was well known on this site, seeing it made official still hurts, and for all the reasons you've listed. I can't even get mad about this anymore. Or maybe just not for today. It's sad to watch this once proud program go down the tubes. I have to think it doesn't bother Mark Richard or Keith Taylor. Can't imagine it bothers Reilly either. A little something in the Times article would have been nice. "Sorry to see them go." Is that too hard to say? "We wish them well." Another tongue twister.

    Now Belt and Battle join Agee, Altman, Berridge, Bouldes, Broughton, Bryant, Chaney, Claggett, Dexter, Harris, Hollis, Johnson, Johnson, Pace, Reid, Sanders, Rumph, Simmons, Smith, Springer-Williams, Swann, Varacallo, Washington and Yanke (my apologies to those I forgot) on the list of players who left the Reilly program.

    So here we are again, wondering who's next to leave, knowing only for certain that it won't be Reilly. And wondering which 14 games GU will win next season.

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  2. Well hopefully there is a surprise or two under Reilly's sleeve with the team for next year. If not, this may not be pretty. Got some good talent, but losing Battle to go with Belt leaving hurts

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  3. Nice comprehensive list, Walter Ego.

    Does anyone have a list of players who left a Division II program who had a coach that started in 2006-07? Or just look a a program that has had the same coach since then, like Edinboro or Clarion? I would like to verify the notion that this player departure is happening everywhere. I don't have time, but I would for someone to undertake this effort.

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  4. I don't aim to absolve Coach Reilly of any responsibility in the state of the GU basketball progam. However, Walter's mention of Taylor and Richard not seeming to care made me wonder if it is possible that the player exodus is at least partially a result of policies/decisions made by the University in the form of budget restrictions that have forced Reilly to go without, for example, a more experienced assistant coach who could contribute more to practice structure, game planning/strategies and is a better recruiter? Perhaps recruiting budgets have been slashed, limiting the trips that can be made to scout/recruit players? GU basketball having only one full time assistant and the other coaches being either part-time or volunteers is a situation I cannot recall since I started attending games back in the early 60's.

    Nothing against Coach Rzyczycki, but the recent decision to elevate him to head coach(and the likliehood that he came at a much lower price than the other candidates with head coaching experience) when the program clearly needed a brand new voice and direction in the wake of all the negatives resulting from the misdeeds of various assistant coaches and former players convinced me that there is now a de-emphasis on athletics at GU. This theory was advanced earlier by another poster on this Board (sorry that I cannot remember who) and I am now convinced that is the case.

    For what it's worth, I'd say that this isn't all Reilly's doing or he wouldn't be here anymore.

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  5. There was an article in the paper last Saturday. It simply stated that Battle and Belt both left Gannon University.

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  6. Thanks observer I think u may be referencing me ....
    I do not know what is going on but obviously our expectations r higher than the universitiy's
    It all comes down to the dollar bill and the influence of boosters
    If they cannot get the university to give the program what it needs- what we have is what we will get

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  7. A Marcus Lemon fan reminded me that his favorite ex-Gannon player was left off the list of bolters above. After the 2006-07 Gannon season, Lemon transferred to Philadelphia U where the 6-5 forward played three years for Coach Herb Magee, notching roughly 800 career points. His senior year Lemon was the third leading scorer on a 27-8 Rams conference championship team that went to the NCAA tournament, bowing out in the second round.

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  8. We humans tend to get caught up in the negativity surrounding sports, so it was nice to see this press release from Gannon this week. We believe in Cleve!

    Gannon Women's Basketball Program Raises $15,000 with Fifth Annual Pink Zone

    ERIE, Pa. – The fifth annual Pink Zone spearheaded by the Gannon women's basketball program was officially a success once again as the program announced it reached its goal of $15,000.

    The event honors and recognizes breast cancer survivors, as well as educates about breast cancer while helping raise funds for breast cancer research and those affected by the disease. Cancer survivors were recognized throughout the game during time-outs.

    Nearly 2,000 fans attended the Pink Zone basketball doubleheader February 18 against Lock Haven at the Hammermill Center. The entire $15,000 will stay local and will be donated to the Erie chapter of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer/American Cancer Society. In all, the Gannon women's basketball program has raised $67,000 during its five Pink Zone events.

    This year's Pink Zone had a “black out” theme as fans wore black, long-sleeve T-shirts with pink lettering. The team sported pink jerseys as it traditionally does during the event. Money was also raised through gift baskets and other items that were raffled off the day of the game, as well as donations from businesses and people throughout the Erie community.

    Free giveaways included pink rally towels to the first 500 fans wearing the 2012 edition of the Pink Zone T-shirt and glow-in-the-dark necklaces to the first 200 kids through the door. Erie Bayhawks courtside seats were auctioned off and “Buy one, get one free” Erie Bayhawks coupons were also available.

    Sponsors included Gannon University Athletics, Johannes Chiropractic Office, WJET-24/WFXP-66, Giant Eagle, Ambridge Rose Spa & Salon, UPMC Health Plan and UPMC Hamot.

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  9. It's amazing how Cleve can recruit and maintain players under the same "restrictions" from the University that are being alleged on this board...

    Go Cleve and the Lady Knights! Congrats on another successful Pink Zone!

    Total shame about Battle...if you can't maintain a kid like that, who by all accounts, worked hard, had a great attitude, was unselfish, maybe it IS about the coach...

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  10. Wow there must surely be an epidemic of horrible coaches out there since the NCAA transfer list is now over 400 players! Looks like nobody can keep their players. That is an average of one per team!!
    AND....Women's basketball and recruiting is extremely different from mens basketball.

    Please see following links it's not just Gannon folks:

    http://collegebasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/04/20/ncaa-president-mark-emmert-comments-on-transfers-bo-ryan-situation/

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/2011-03-06-college-basketball-transfers_N.htm

    To all the Coach Reilly haters, come on, the new Millennium was 12 years ago. Things are not done the same and the athletes are not the same as the good Ol' days. Please can we move past this, we got past the stretching?

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  11. I think Reilly is trying to emulate The Kentucky on a Division II level, without the championships. You know - one-and-done. Either that or we have a five year plan to duke it out with Lock Haven for last place. If so we trending right.
    If all the other schools are having the same recruiting problems and the same mediocrity why not just make that our men basketball motto, "one- and done...just like all the other schools".

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  12. Hey Ffroo

    GU's men's basketball program transfer rate over Reilly's tenure is WAY over the national average.

    This has been addressed on many different threads.

    We are aware it is a trend. These articles have been posted before.

    I believe (and I could be off on the percentage points) but the national transfer rate is around 12% but GU's men's program under Reilly is at about 35%...

    You call us Reilly haters...

    Then I dub you the Reilly excuse maker...

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  13. Also, in the CBS "transfer article" the author makes it a point to call out Kentucky for:

    "Kentucky's had a whopping 17 guys sign waivers to get away from the program since 2003."

    That makes it seem like Kentucky must be one of the worst offenders...

    I personally WOULD LOVE IT, if we could say we've ONLY had 17 players transfer during Reilly's tenure.

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  14. Doesn't seem like you want any mottos on this site other than negative ones about Gannon basketball. It's very unfortunate and strangely odd for "fans". Apparently you consider yourself a hater, I didn't specify any names. Great job to the Women's Basketball Team for their Pink Zone success!

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    1. Changing the topic doesn't substantiate your claims. Proof, on the other hand...

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  15. Ffroo

    How can losing Stephan Battle, ex-Frosh of the year, the lynchpin of Reilly's recruiting class from two years ago (along with Agee) be considered anything but negative.

    If you didn't notice, that was the "topic" supplied by the blogger.

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  16. Yup-Proof? Um the blogger supplied the info about the pink zone, not I. Fauves-Have you spoken to Battles or Agee personally about why they left? If you have please fill us in, if you have not, then none of us know why they left, was it the Coach? was it that he wasn't a star this year? He obviously handled the so called "tough" practices enough to come back a second year...He knew Coach Reilly's personality, routine, practice schedule, etc. So why did he leave? All we can do is give our own personal opinion. My opinion is that I don't have the facts, haven't talked to him, so I don't know why he left and it is none of my business. I am more concerned with who is coming in and next year's team. Last year is in the past. Why would anyone want to leave Kentucky???
    Tanner and R.Wilson were FOY. Heck anyone ask R.Wilson why he left a program where he was the focus and come to Gannon? Why Gannon? Why Coach Reilly? Things that make you go Hmmmmmmm.

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  17. Perhaps, just perhaps, Battle did not want to work as hard as the rest of his teammates.

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  18. Some observations-

    It's possible that Battle's problems with his knees led him to believe that he should receive preferential treatment in the area of how much he should participate in practice after he returned to action. When he didn't get such consideration, maybe he figured that he'd had enough. It's a theory.

    As far as the Women's program being able to excel with the same restrictions that we were theorizing that the Men's program has faced, the difference there is, in my opinion, simple. Since the Women's program wasn't so closely scrutinized as the Men's program is, Coach Wright was able to build a team from the ground up with primarily 4 year players who started in the program as freshmen and underwent a season or two with marginal success in the process. No one blinked or suggested a coaching change when that happened. When Coach Reilly made an attempt at that same strategy, a number of "fans" had him all but fired when they suffered through that 9-17 (or whatever it was) season in Reilly's second year. We all know that his subsequent decision to start depending primarily on junior college players only worked as long as he had a recruiter who could deliver a high level of talent (and a 6'11" center showed up on his doorstep out of nowhere, too). When that changed, so did the program's success level.

    R. Wilson's decision to leave Urbana for GU and his subsequent decsion to stay put should give us some hope that Coach Reilly's coaching methods are acceptable to players with a certain mindset. We can dream, can't we?

    IMO, the Loch Haven reference is unfounded. GU may have missed the playoffs, but they were very competitve in nearly every game, even with a lot of injuries (around 50 man-games lost among 3 players expected to make substantial contributions)and nowhere near as horribly bad as Loch Haven has been.

    Bringing Agee back into the conversation is completely unfair. Whatever happened with that kid was entirely due to the player's actions, not Coach Reilly's.

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  19. after reading through all the posts, i must say I disagree with some and agree with others.

    In addition to TheObservor's notes..

    - a point was brought up about Battle knowing Coach Reilly and playing 2 years before leaving... That leads me to believe that it was either a personal issue or a school issue. If he stayed for his second year when others were already leaving, he obviously did know what was going on and chose to stay. I don't think it could've changed that drastically the next year.
    - with athletes now a days, they are all hyped up to be the next LeBron or Kobe, etc. These players play for their school, play for clubs, play for travel teams, play for national teams, etc. They don't expect to be on the bench. I'm not saying this is the case with Battle, or really anyone else, just in general. A lot of these kids are coming from decent HS programs where they were stars or solid JUCOs where they were stars and then they aren't the "star" at the upper collegiate level, yet they think they should be on the floor more.
    - look at the players who DID STAY from their first day at Gannon.
    Many were starters
    (Goldcamp, Stosh, Lindsey, Howard, Truskauskas, Knight, Piotrowicz, Brannen)
    Stosh had a stretch where he was coming off the bench 1) after injury and 2) for disciplinary reasons. He stayed.
    Knight was a starter and then came off the bench the next 2 years. He didn't quit.
    Steve was an on and off starter. He then became a bench player as a senior to a freshman. He stayed.
    Brannen was a work horse, a leader and had tremendous talent. He could've left and went elsewhere to play, he stayed.
    Goldcamp probably could've played lower D1 (actually many of them probably could have), but he stayed at D2 Gannon.
    or else role players with good attitudes
    (Scandrett, Demski, Crouch, D. Wilson, Harris). (these are just examples, not all players)

    - Johnson and Battle left without any known public reasons why (meaning, nothing from them personally stating as to why they left). Lemon was dismissed from Gannon because of academics. Agee was dismissed from Gannon for school violations.

    - Others who have left: Altsman, W. Johnson, Dotchin, Woodbury, Pace, Bryant, Bouldes, Swann, Simmons, CSW, Rumph, Clagett, R. Smith, Sanders.
    Bryant only started a few games, only played in a few more games and pretty much had a tent at the end of the bench.
    Sanders played one game and was gone. Pace.. did he even ever play in a game? Swann, Simmons and Bouldes all were on and off starters, but mostly non-starting roles. Altsman and W. Johnson got the chance and were way below the D2 level. Dotchin and Woodbury were partial scholarship walk-ons (various possibilities; tired of all the workouts + academics without any scholarships?; scholarship funding was cut or awarded to someone else?, etc). CSW we know had the visa issues and had to return to Canada. Clagett, no idea. Rumph played maybe a total of 2 minutes in his only season and R. Smith was just a few minutes ahead of that.

    See a trend? Those who start, stay. Those who are on the bench and don't play immediately and every game, leave.

    Now I am not saying that it is not Coach Reilly or any of the assistants' faults for these departures nor am I saying it is. I am not saying any of these kids had ego issues nor am I ruling it out for the general populace. These players may have seen the incoming recruits and realized they'd have competition or else wouldn't get much playing time and jetted. No one knows. As many have said on this site, you recruit with the hopes of the player falling in line with the program; not your program falling in line with the player. Some work, many didn't. I don't know if that can really be blamed on ONE thing.

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  20. I have personally seen one of the referenced players on this blog (who has left the program, leading to severe criticism of the coaching staff at the time...) unexpectedly walk off the court during practice.

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    1. I have also personally seen an aforementioned player that left the program just walk off the court during a practice and leave. There was no disciplinary action, dispute, fight, injury etc. that led to him exiting the practice; he just left.

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  21. Additional observations-

    I thought Dotchin was a walk-on who tired of the required practice effort, saw others in front of him on the depth chart, saw the rest of his life looming on the horizon, and started his work career as a sports marketing intern (Bayhawks, I think-and he has done very well, I'm told).

    Woodbury didn't leave the program. He just quit playing. The amount of his scholarships that was from basketball was fairly minimal and may have been redistributed to other players. He stayed with the program as kind of an assistant coach/manager. Not fair to count him as having left. His inability to contribute on the court motivated him to quit playing, that's all.

    One of the mistakes Reilly made way back when was recruiting Lemon, Altsman, and Johnson, who were all from the same area and were AAU teammates. Once one of them had a problem, they were all bound to leave, which may also happen now with the Battle/Johnson connection. Sometimes, recruiting teammates from the same school/AAU program is a bad idea.

    Sorting through Corey's list made me realize that most of the players that left did indeed have limited minutes, but it is also true that, based on their play, most of them (with some exceptions-Claggett comes to mind) didn't deserve more than limited minutes.

    The other thing I noticed was the mistakes Reilly made in judging whether a player had the mental makeup and physical disicpline to fit into his program. Obviously, many (Pace, Sanders, Bryant, Reid, Simmons to name a few) were bad fits, but that's something that's difficult to tell without really getting to know a player. That might be easier if you had an assistant coach/recruiter who sees the kid play a few times and gets to know him BEFORE the head coach meets him and convinces him to come to GU. That goes back to my theory that not having an assistant that excels in recruiting is hurting the program big time.

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    1. Dotchin and Woodbury were both listed as walk-ons in the programs. I believe both had "partial scholarships" though. Dotchin left the team, but remained at Gannon, because he wanted to focus on academics (rumor says) and Woodbury lost his scholarship funding so is now like a "manager" on the team (again rumor says). So yes correct to both.

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  22. Times reports McGaughy has signed with D-1 High Point

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  23. I have no problem if Gannon avoids MHNE transfers.. Sturdivant was a bust. He had one decent season and then imploded his senior year... It seems to be a trend with MHNE kids (if they go anywhere after).

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  24. I'm not sure how Marc Sturdivant can be considered a bust...

    He led the team in scoring his senior season.

    He was third on the team in scoring his junior season.

    He also started all 30 games that Gannon played his senior season.

    His three point percentage was down slightly but overall FG average was up his senior season.

    Here are the archival stats from his senior season:

    http://gliac.prestosports.com/sports/mbkb/2002-03/stats/GU.HTM#team.ind

    At this point, I could care less who we recruit as long as they are going to not bolt the following year.

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    1. Corey is known for throwing out statements without backing them with facts. I pay little attention to him.

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  25. Those stats are not 100% accurate. It may not have been his senior year, but one of the years he injured his hand towards the end of the season and missed at least 2 games. Then when he came back he was awful and started maybe 2 more games and came off the bench the last probably 3-4 games and did much better. That may have been his junior year. But the stats on that site are all screwed up because they show him as having played 4 years at Gannon (he's listed on 2000, 2001 and 2004 stat sheets, but they all say as of different dates in 2004). Also the 2002-03 stats aren't listed they take you to the 03-04 stats.

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  26. Also, looking through and seeing some of the names; I do not remember some of these names and I also don't remember some of them graduating under Slocum.

    Anyone have an estimate on how many players left (did not graduate) in Slocum's tenure? Including walk-ons.

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  27. Corey

    Personally I could care less about Marc Sturdivant's stats, but on the link I provided from the GLIAC Archival Stats Page, there are two years that Marc Sturdivant played for Gannon, not 4.

    He is listed in 01-02 and 02-03...he is not listed on the team before or after that.

    You called him a bust, I don't remember him that well, but I disagree with that statement and the stats that I found seem to support that argument.

    I would be happy to examine any stats that you can find to dispute it.

    But leading the team in scoring (Husted and Morgan were on this team) in your senior year can hardly be considered "a bust".

    As far as hurting his hand, maybe it happened during his junior year, as he only started 26 of a possible 28 games that year.

    He started all 30 his senior year.

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  28. Corey

    The number of players that left during Slocum's tenure was posted on another thread.

    I believe it was under 10. Maybe someone wants to do that research again, or go back through the old threads to find it...???

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  29. Marc Sturdivant is ranked #50 in career scoring with 774 points and number 6 in three-pointers made.

    Hard to say on any level that he was a bust. Looks like he played two seasons, but I could have misread.

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