Saturday, January 5, 2013

Wilson ... Wilson ... Wilson!

No, the headline isn't intended to quote Tom Hanks from the movie Castaway. It's what I believe Mansfield head coach Rich Miller muttered to himself the whole bus ride home after Gannon junior Robert Wilson torched the Mounties for 29 points as the Knights cruised to an 88-64 victory Saturday night. Just under 15 minutes into the game, here's how the stat lines looked:
* Mansfield: 12 points, 4-for-30 FG
* Wilson: 14 points, 5-for-5 FG

In the first half, when Gannon raced to a 46-28 lead, Wilson tallied 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting including a 4-for-6 chart on threes and 3-for-3 from the foul line. Wilson went off in part because Mansfield doubled-down on the Gannon post players early and often. The result was often turnovers (GU had 24 for the game, 14 in the first half) but when the Knights did move the ball, it resulted in open perimeter looks.

Gannon, now 11-2 overall and 5-2 in the PSAC, can be scary good at times, especially when Wilson and Oscar Macias (14 points, 5-of-8 FG) are on target. They will get their looks if opponents keep doubling Darrell Blanton on the blocks. And if clubs let Blanton go one-on-one, expect him to have some monster nights to go along with his monster dunks.

In the first semester games, Wilson appeared to be pressing, trying too hard to play well. That can work on defense, but players can't be uptight when they have the ball. Against Mansfield, Wilson was a cool customer. For example, he allowed himself to get frustrated for just a split-second after a hard Mountie foul, but quickly gathered his composure then walked down the floor to hit his free throws. He's influencing his teammates as well. T.J. Wilson tried arguing a second-half foul call against him, but Robert Wilson pushed him away from the official, told his teammate to calm down with a slap on the shoulder, then beckoned the Knights to huddle up. John Reilly loves that stuff, and so should all Gannon fans.

The Achilles' heel for this Gannon team appears to be playing with TMT: Too Many Turnovers. The Knights are averaging a staggering 18.7 per game, and that's before they've faced the heart of their PSAC West schedule. At 11-2, you'd think Gannon would be thumping opponents in every statistical category. That's the case for shooting percentage (49.6% vs. 36.7%), three-point percentage (35.3% vs. 30.0%), free throw percentage (74.8% vs. 64.9%), rebounds (38.2 rpg vs. 28.5 rpg), assists (189 vs. 146), blocks (40 vs. 31), steals (99 vs. 85), and of course points (70.9 ppg vs.56.9 ppg). However, GU has committed 243 turnovers while opponents -- despite an aggressive Gannon defense -- have committed only 212.

Knight Knotes:
* Wilson isn't the only Knight who's playing more relaxed. Jabs Newby was brilliant this weekend with 11 assists vs. Bloomsburg and 10 points and 8 assists against Mansfield. In the first semester games, Newby was content to "not screw up." He'd bring the ball over the timeline, throw it to the wing, and then move the ball side-to-side. Against the Mounties he not only moved the ball well, he made some spectacular moves to the basket and finished them strong. His fake behind-the-back pass before finishing with a right hand layup in the first half thrilled the GU faithful.

* I felt bad for Mountie coach Miller, and not just because after every road game he has to go back to Mansfield. It was obvious he stressed doubling Blanton in shootaround, the morning walkthrough, and in his pregame chat. Then on Gannon's first two possessions, Blanton scores on the left block then with a half-hook on the right block. Miller quickly called a 30-second timeout and reminded his team what they heck they were supposed to be doing.

* The Knights' next three contests are on the road (1/11 at Cheyney, 1/12 at West Chester, 1/16 at Edinboro). One stat I'll be interested to see after the next home game (1/19 vs. Cal) is attendance. The last four games at the Hammermill have drawn fewer than 1,000 fans. When's the last time GU attendance registered only three digits for four consecutive games?

* Something to ponder this week: Whenever Adam Blazek returns to action from his broken hand, how about Gannon uses him in a Jose Davis super-sub role? Davis was a hotshot guard for Edinboro in the late 80s and did all his damage off the bench. If the Scots started fast, Davis came into the game to make them even better. And if the Boro struggled, Davis would pop off the bench and give his club a spark. I think Blazek could handle this role, and him being a super-sub wouldn't hurt the confidence of any current starter.

(Robert Wilson photo courtesy Gannon University and Joe Mattis.)


  1. Wow ... Knights up by 18 at the half (and as much as 26) despite 14 turnovers, shooting 61% from the field. When they take care of the ball, they are a very efficient offensive unit.

  2. I'm not at the game and am just looking at the stats. Some goofy stuff:

    FG % Gannon 61% (17/28), Mansfield 20% (8/40)
    FT % Gannon 53% (8/15), Mansfield 100% (10/10)

    Mansfield has taken 12 more shots, but are down by 18. These types of things don't happen much.

  3. The stats above result from the fact that Mansfield is awful to start with, and compounded that by looking like they weren't particularly interested in playing at the beginning of the game.

    It didn't help that their coach didn't do much (like change their defense, for example) to try to get them back in the game until about 3 minutes were left in the 1st half, anf they were already down 20 when he had them come out in a half court trap, which yielded 2 straight turnovers by the Knights. Great coaching, right? So great, that he then pulled them out of the trap and went back to the below average level of man defense that they started the game with.

    Bottom line: bad team, poor attitude, questionable coaching. Not a good combination.

  4. When is blazek gona be back? Will he play vs Boro?

    1. Next week is what I've heard (from credit sources). I wouldn't expect much though. It will be interesting if it's true (being that it's two road games before a local road game).

  5. I believe from what I am hearing, Blazek may be back for the game after the Boro, not sure who that is off the top of my head. It sounds like it will be sooner rather than later.

  6. 11-2! These guys are really playing well together, experience is showing with this starting 5 and I agree Blazek coming off the bench would be good. He definitely would be a spark and it may disrupt the current chemistry that is working. Wilson played exceptionally well last night and looks to be playing very comfortable now. The team seems to feed off of his offensive flow and the floor leadership discribed in Jim's comments is going to be huge in tough matchups to come. Glad to see Corey get in the game! He seems to have such a great attitude on the bench.

  7. Interesting stat for everyone... Jabs' 11 assists on Friday = first player with double digit assists since Joe Lindsey did it on 03.16.08. Jabs' 8 assists on Saturday = more than any player did in the past 2 seasons (7 last year by Steve & Battle and 7 by the same two players the previous year; 2009-10 G. Johnson has 8 assists once and that was the high).

    Initially I was all for Jabs going to the bench with Blazek returning... and I will admit I am 100% against that now. Actually with the way the team has been playing, I agree with Jim... let him come off the bench. If he was going to return to the lineup I'd say Oscar would go back to the bench, however
    6 games - Blazek 19 asts, 16 TOs
    13 games - Oscar 19 asts, 21 TOs

    The other option would be CJ to the bench, but then they would go back to the small lineup again as well as putting Wilson, who is one of the hardest hustlers I've ever seen (he may be giving Goldcamp a run for his money), up against guys twice his size possibly.

    I think Blazek is this year's Cory Knight... come off the bench and contribute big kid!

  8. Coach says Adam is his best player. You do not have your best player sitting on the bench. Maybe 2 or 3 games off the bench to regain his playing conditioning, but Adam will be a starter and not a super sub. IMO, Macias goes back to the bench.

  9. so off topic, but something I just realized... Goldcamp is back with the BayHawks. Was doing some googling to see if I could find anything about his stats overseas and when i found a site it said "left team" and then another said "current: Erie 12-13". So, incase anyone else didn't know, Goldcamp is back with the BayHawks.

  10. The NCAA stats are out as of January 6. The stats illustrate what a good season GU is having. Note that there are 286 Division II teams

    National rankings:

    Scoring defense #5 (IUP is 6)
    FG pct defense #4 (PSAC west may be the best FG defense in country ... Slippery Rock is 7, IUP is 21, Edinboro is 31 and, gulp, those defensive stalwarts at Lock Haven is 29th -- maybe playing those cruddy PSAC east teams are fattening our stats)

    Scoring margin 22nd
    FG percentage 23rd
    Rebound margin 10th (SRU is 2nd)
    FT percentage 22nd (impressive -- Reilly's teams have not been historically strong in FT shooting like Slocum's teams were)

    And to make Jim's point of TMT, out of 286 Division II teams, Gannon is ranked 274th in turnovers per game. Only 12 of the 286 Divsion II teams turn the ball over more than our Knights.

    Other observation: The wild, wacky WVIAC has seven of the top 30 teams in scoring offense, including #1 West Liberty who averages 115 points per game -- 16 points higher than second place!

    1. I actually think the PSAC is as balanced as it's been since GU joined. The bottom teams in the league in the West and East aren't what they were a year ago. In fact, when the regular season ends, I'd be willing to bet that East could have better records at the bottom than the West, something I don't think we've seen.

      That t/o stat is downright appalling.

      As for WVIAC, there's a reason why no one has won a championship out of there despite having some top scoring teams over the years - as much as I hate cliches, defense wins championships. From what I've read scouting wise for WVIAC teams, get them stuck in a half-court offense and they're in trouble. Then again, if a team like Gannon and their turnovers are playing WLU, those t/o could easily turn into fast-break points. Though I do think it's that most of Gannon's turnovers are walks/double dribbles and 3-second calls this year - unforced errors du jour.

  11. Just saw the individual national stats. Only GU player in top 100 in anything was Blanton's #14 rank in FG percentage.

    Women's high rankings (of 277 teams):

    Scoring offense #39
    Scoring margin #33
    Three's per game #11
    Three pt percentage #4
    Assists #43
    Sundberg #19 in assist, #18 in assist/TO ratio
    Batts #8 in three pt %, #3(!) in threes per game

    Both teams having great seasons and stats show it!

  12. One more fun stat to add to the mix, courtesy of Super SID Dan Teliski:

    Gannon Basketball Teams Produce NCAA Division II's Fifth-Best Combined Winning Percentage

    ERIE, Pa. – It has been quite a first half for both Gannon basketball teams and their combined success is one of the best in the entire country.

    The Gannon basketball teams have combined to win 89 percent of their games this season, representing the fifth-highest combined winning percentage among 314 NCAA Division II schools with basketball programs.

    The Gannon women's team owns a 13-1 overall record with a .929 winning percentage. The men's squad is 11-2 with an .846 winning percentage. Together, the two programs have won 24 of 27 games.

    The University of Tampa's .957 combined winning percentage is the country's best. The Spartans' women's team is 10-0 while the men's program is 12-1 for a 22-1 combined record.

    Indianapolis (Women 9-1 / Men 10-0 / Combined 19-1, .950), Southern Indiana (Women 10-0 / Men 9-1 / Combined 19-1, .950) and Bellarmine (Women 11-2 / Men 10-0 / Combined 21-2, .913) are the only other NCAA Division II schools ahead of Gannon in combined winning percentage.


    John Reilly's weekly radio interview is now online. The most revealing info is that Adam Blazek will be back in about two weeks.

  14. Looking at statistics is fun but you have to look at the whole picture. I agree this team is really coming together and is fun to watch. But another stat to look at is the two teams we lost too have a combined record of 18-4 and the eleven we beat have a combined record of 53-84. I did take the liberty to back out Daemen's five wins over the Canadian teams an all star team from Erie county high schools would beat those five.

  15. Adam told me that he HOPED he'd be back within the 2 week time frame, but they were going to be sure he was alright before jumping back into action so he is still playing at th end of the yer rather than rush him back in mid-January only to be reinjured.

  16. I dunno if I misinterpreted the way Coach Reilly said it, but he made it sound that Adam could be back in 2 weeks, but that would simply be getting back into practices. He made it sound as if games were a month (or more) away. I'm going to listen again, but that's the way I thought it sounded.