I'm not quite sure how to feel after Gannon's 72-65 loss to IUP Saturday afternoon. Option A: Feel good that the Knights competed with the #22 team in the country despite not having injured Adam Blazek, arguably their best all-around player. Option B: Feel like a two-game home losing streak is the beginning of another right-around-.500 season.
season certainly isn't lost, even though the Knights sit at 1-2 in the
PSAC West, tied for last place with doormats Lock Haven and Clarion. The
remaining four games on the 2012 Gannon schedule are all winnable even with
Blazek sidelined: Notre Dame of Ohio (2-5), Virginia State (2-3) or West
Virginia Wesleyan (4-2), at Millersville (3-0, 7-2 but with losses to
teams Gannon has beaten), and at Shippensburg (0-3, 2-5). So GU could be 9-2 heading into the long Christmas break.
Who wouldn't want an .818 winning percentage after 11 games?
Maybe the answer to that question is longtime Gannon fans. The vibe I'm
getting from the folks who still attend games (more on that next
paragraph) is that they are starving for a 20-win season, not a fourth
consecutive campaign with double-digit losses. The Knights are just
46-40 over the last three-plus seasons, winning just 10 of their last 19
games at the Hammermill. Gannon fans are used to two home losses in a
season, not in the span of one week.
I think longtime
fans are also down more than they should be because the atmosphere at
the games has declined as well. Only about 1,000 fans attend each game,
and they sit scattered throughout the Audi. It's a myth that every
regular season Gannon game was sold out during the Chapman years, but
more often than not you had to tuck your winter coat under your legs
because most of the bleacher seats around you were taken. I used to feel
sorry for the Metro League players and fans who played in a gym with
the bleachers 75% empty. Now I'm feeling sorry for myself.
hope the Knights can sweep the rest of 2012 and beat some quality teams
in January. That's my wish not just because I want the team to do well.
I'd also like the Knights to bring the Hammermill back to life.
Other thoughts after the IUP/Gannon game:
* What could give Gannon fans hope for a better tomorrow is that Robert Wilson -- who torched the Knights during his days at Urbana
-- hasn't hit his offensive stride yet.Wilson is just 4-for-17 on
threes this year and looked visibly frustrated/disgusted/angry Saturday
afternoon. The Knights will need Wilson more than ever with Blazek on the sidelines for an expected 4-6 weeks.
You have to tip your fedora to Indiana coach Joe Lombardi who has
turned the Crimson Hawks into a perennial national contender.
Organization is a big part of that. For the game, he had a team manager
sit directly behind him with a dry erase board. Each full time out, the
manager's job was to move the coach's chair to the center of the huddle
and hand him the dry erase board. A second manager tended to the needs
of the players, who sat in order on the IUP bench.
IUP's Blake Vedder was listed at 7-foot-3 in the program and that was no
exaggeration. He stood head, shoulders, and armpits above everyone else
on the court. Vedder's appearance brought up the name of another
7-foot-3 Gannon opponent, St. Michael's Michel Bonebo.
Bonebo and guard George Daway make the Purple Knights a force in the
MECC in the mid-1980s. They still rank as two of my favorite Golden
* Members of Oscar Macias' family
attended the Gannon/East Stroudsburg game and unfortunately saw him go
scoreless against the Warriors. Imagine his phone call home to them
after his 17-point outing (15 in the first half) against IUP. They'd
either beam with pride or call him a fibber. It was fun to see Macais
play with so much confidence and energy against the Crimson Hawks.
On a couple possessions vs. IUP, Gannon didn't play man defense. I
don't think I've seen John Reilly do that in several seasons. One
possession appeared to be a standard 1-2-2 while another possession
appeared to be an "upside-down" 1-3-1 with Darrell Blanton at the top
and diminutive Brandon Emmitt under the basket. The Knights also ran a
couple new offensive sets, showing that Reilly is willing to tweak his
standard game plan. I know the anti-Reilly faction who follows this site will say, "Yeah, but they still lost," but you have to understand that losing doesn't mean you did everything wrong and winning doesn't mean you did everything right.
* Despite Gannon's loss to IUP, longtime GU supporter
Chuck Campagne had a great week. Not only was he named a Gannon
Athletics Hall of Famer, he won Saturday's Gannon Booster Club 50/50. I saw Chuck bring his
winning ticket over the to scorer's table and tell the booster who tried
award him the prize, "Keep it." Well played, Mr. Campagne.
* I'm not hopeful for a large crowd at Friday's Porreco Cup opener vs. Notre Dame (Oh.) because the game will go head-to-head with Prep in the AAA state championship game. What could draw people to the game is that I'll be doing the game on the radio, so regular Gannon hoops listeners may head to the Hammermill just to avoid listening to me.