I'm still so nerved up from Gannon's pulsating 57-55 win at #7 IUP tonight that I can only offer disjointed observations on tonight's game that I watched via live video feed.
* As ewensel says
in the comment section of this post, that is the biggest Gannon win in
years. Not since capturing the PSAC championship in 2009 have the
Knights knocked off a legitimate NCAA heavyweight in a relevant contest.
What makes this W all the more impressive is that for three-quarters of
the game, Gannon was clearly the better team. Only GU's dreadful 12-for-28 (43%) free throw chart kept this game close.
Gannon's aggressiveness from the outset established the right tone and
is the reason we're all beaming now instead of bawling (or irrationally
bashing the coaches). Instead of picking up the ballhandler a couple
steps beyond the three-point line, John Reilly extended his defense to
at least midcourt and occasionally full court, even with a late-game
lead. In past Gannon/IUP games, we've seen the Knights forced to trigger
their offense from 30 feet away from the basket and their ballhandlers
dribble backwards instead of into the paint. Tonight, the Crimson Hawk
guards were the guys on their heels.
* This might seem
strange based on his stats (23 minutes, 2 points, 2 assists, 3
turnovers, and a grade school-like 0-for-4 from the foul line), but I think
tonight's #1 difference maker was Gannon PG Jabs Newby. I don't believe
he was on the floor at all during the 7-minute stretch when IUP's 21-3
blitz -- which included a 15-0 spurt -- turned a 35-24 Gannon lead into a
45-38 Indiana advantage. When he was playing, Newby pressured his man,
not allowing open shots, dribble penetration, or post passes. And when
IUP tried pressuring Newby, he'd increase his aggressiveness and blow
past his man, creating scoring opportunities and drawing fouls. When IUP
punched, Newby would punch back harder. There was a stretch late in the
first half where the game action lasted for over three minutes without a
stoppage in play. I watched Newby for most of that time, and he didn't
take his foot off the gas for a second. The "Jabs Factor" was huge
tonight. They don't win this game without him.
stats of note: Gannon turnovers -- only 12. Rebounds -- Gannon 37,
Indiana 29; the Knights had a near 2-to-1 rebounding advantage in the
first half. Second chance points -- Gannon 17, IUP 3. Gannon shot better on threes (5-for-9, 56%) than they did on free throws (12-for-28, 43%). GU was 4-for-13 at the line in the first half.
Before tonight's stunner, Indiana was 24-1 at Kovalchick Arena
including 11-0 this year. This was their first-ever PSAC loss in their
* Gannon just beat the #7 team in the country ... on the road. I bet the bus ride home is a thrill. I'd be admiring the box score the whole way home. In fact, I'm going to go look at it again now.
* I received a text after the game from a Gannon fan who said, "This more than justifies Reilly's post-Lock Haven tirade."
I agree. This was by far the most intense I've seen the team this year.
They were energetic on the ball defensively, on the boards, and even on
the bench. Instead of just checking out of the game and sauntering down
the bench, players were enthusiastically fist-bumping each other.
Steve Piotrowicz can't get a break, can he? He was the starting point
guard for the Gannon teams that struggled mightily at IUP the past few
seasons. Now a first-year graduate assistant at Indiana, he's again on
the losing side of this rivalry. I've known Steve, a longtime diehard
Gannon fan, since he was a scrappy fifth grader at Our Lady's Christian
and hustling for the Erie Red Storm AAU team. This was the first time
I've ever wanted "his team" to lose. I wonder who his dad was rooting
for tonight? Larry Piotrowicz is one of GU's most faithful supporters.
* I stand corrected. (Click here for details.) Should I go back and change the article's headline?
I agree completely with mccoy's comment below that Gannon's attitude
has to immediately switch to, "Don't sleep for Cal." Tonight's win means
nothing if the Knights don't take care of business Saturday against the Vulcans, who won at Edinboro tonight, 73-72.