Bob Dukiet had a lot to say about defense, but there was one foundational principle he preached the most: "Make them uncomfortable." In their 65-46 drubbing of Daemen in the Gary Miller Classic championship Saturday night, the Knights made the Wildcats uncomfortable from the outset. The defending Miller Classic champs, Daemen entered this year's tourney averaging nearly 90 points per game. At the half, a clearly frazzled Wildcat team had scored only 15 points, committed 9 turnovers, and made just 7-of-24 field goal attempts including an 0-for-7 chart on three-pointers.
halftime was arduous for Daemen. I walked by their lockerroom on my way
to the men's room on the west end of the Hammermill Center, and the team
was still congregated in the hallway. Coach Don Silveri, who spent the
first minutes of halftime at the scorer's table pleading his case to the
officials, loudly asked, "Who has the key to the lockerroom?"
doubled its scoring output in the second half, but finished the game
making only 33% of its field goal attempts and 3-of-16 threes while
turning the ball over 21 times. The anguish on their faces was evident. Dribblers couldn't get to the basket and outside shooters had everything contested. Forwards in the paint were swarmed by two, three, or four ballhawking defenders. The Knights were too big, too fast, too quick, too strong,
too smart, too aggressive. And Daemen was too uncomfortable to compete.
the folks at the scorer's table would have selected "Team Defense" as
the tourney MVP, I wouldn't have had a problem with that. I'm also OK
that Adam Blazek earned MVP honors even though he needed 13 field goal
attempts and made just 1-of-7 threes to score 13 points. His 5 steals --
the team-high on a 14-steal evening -- helped keep Daemen out of whack
Other thoughts on the evening:
* For you pessimists who are still down on the Knights because of their sputtering offense, remember where we were a year ago after the Daemen game.
I used the phrase "resoundingly disappointed" and I still stand by it. Now at 4-0 after a dominant victory over a team that was 8-2 coming in
should make all Gannon fans feel good about this season's prospects.
* I love Gannon, but can I still feel bad for Daemen guard Casey Sheehan?
A year ago, he lifted his team to the Miller Classic title and hoisted
the tourney MVP trophy with a 24-points-in-just-23-minutes effort in the
finals. Tonight he was scoreless in 18 minutes, leaving at the
14-minute mark with an injury to his left leg.
* Saturday might have been Oscar Mascias' best game in the Gannon
uniform. Not only did he score 9 points on a 3-of-4 shooting chart, he
was rarely beaten off the dribble by the quick Daemen guards. Mascias
was a surprise starter this evening for big man Roger Livramento, who
played just 7 minutes.
* I love how John Reilly gets
everyone -- even guys who have been with his program for just a few
months -- to sacrifice their bodies. Every Knight, even the new players,
willingly take charges and get floor burns. One player (I can't recall
who) hustled after a loose ball in the second half and landed in the lap
of former Gannon great Mel Witherspoon. So, double kudos to Reilly for
getting Spoon to finally take a charge!