Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Doom Date

Most of the time, I love being right. But this time I hate it. On Wednesday, before Gannon's frustrating 67-64 home loss to Edinboro, two co-workers asked me for my pregame prediction. I rarely offer predictions because human performance is typically unreliable, but I told my colleagues I had a bad feeling the Knights would lose for 5 reasons:
1. Edinboro big man Bryan Theriot was playing again after injuring himself a month ago vs. Gannon. The Knights have never been able to handle the 6-foot-9, 300-pound Theriot.
2. Algeron Torrence, who scuttled the Scots with a 24-point performance in January, was expected to be sidelined for the rematch. He was in street clothes once again.
3. Edinboro had a 6-2 road record, much better than their 4-5 conference mark at home. They clearly like a hostile environment, and Wednesday night was expected to be the most hostile crowd the Fighting Scots had seen all season.
4. We were thrilled Gannon won two road games last week, but the Knights didn't put up 60 points in either of those games. If you take the 69-56 loss at Slippery Rock into account, GU had scored in the 50s three of their last four games. The Knights have been winning games, but you couldn't call them "hot."
5. This was Gannon's first game of the year with a national ranking, which is oftentimes the kiss of death.

All of those factors came into play Wednesday night -- well, maybe #5 is a figment of my imagination. With the 260-pound Torrence sidelined, Theriot registered a healthy 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and snagged 10 rebounds. The loud crowd seemed to energize Edinboro. The Scot guards were comfortable in the first 5 minutes of the game and then the entire second half, while Gannon's offense frequently sputtered, stalled, and forced contested jumpers.

All is not lost, but the chance to host the PSAC tournament is. GU is now two full games behind first place IUP, and the chances of the 15-3 Crimson Hawks losing two games on their remaining schedule (@ Mercyhurst, vs. Edinboro, @ Slippery Rock, vs. Lock Haven) is as thin as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. If Gannon's offense doesn't start clicking, second place in the West and an NCAA bid will be out of their reach.

As bummed as I am about the loss, I can't end this post without talking about Darrell Blanton's first half dunk that still has Gannon fans buzzing. Does anybody have it on video? I looked on the Gannon site, JET TV, and WICU/WSEE but couldn't find it. UPDATED 2/15/13: Click here to watch Blanton's dunk, courtesy Gannon SID Dan Teliski.

My description won't do the dunk justice, but from what I recall, Robert Wilson drew the attention of the Edinboro defense and possessed the ball in the left short corner. As Blanton cut from the free throw line to the middle of the lane, Wilson fed him a bounce pass on the move. Blanton took one giant step, soared above the entire Scot defense who was trying to recover from covering Wilson, and crushed the rim (and Scot Bobby Davis) with a right handed thunderbolt.

My question is was that the greatest Gannon dunk you've ever seen? It's certainly worthy of consideration. After talking with some longtime Golden Knight fans and racking my brain, here's a list of memorable dunks that Blanton is competing with:
* A Tanner Furno full-speed flush at Slippery Rock. I didn't see it, but many who did said their jaws hit the floor when it happened.
* I can't recall against who, but Josh Morgan caught the ball on the left wing, pump-faked his man out of the way, then soared down the lane for a ringing one-hand stuff.
* Mitchell Smith's two-hand dunk vs. Millersville might not have been physically amazing, but being in the NCAA regional finals against the #1 team in the country gives it bonus points.
* Derrick Price pulled off a 270-degree dunk on the right baseline in the Porreco Cup final against eventual national champ Virginia Union.


  1. Hopefully this team comes out and plays like a nationally ranked team. I'm paranoid from the past few years that were go a drop a game that we should win, hopefully this team is different and can win out. I'm just paranoid. Go knights

  2. Some of the most questionable substitutions I've seen from Reilly, and he's made a lot of questionable substitutions in the past. Blanton is our best player and was on the bench way to much at the end of the game. Also why rob Wilson was guarding Theriot is questionable as well. Enjoy being in the top 25 for one more game.

  3. Well, that stunk.

    I don't think that Blanton was well. Seems like he injured himself on that spectactular dunk.

    The defense was the biggest problem today ... our offense isn't strong enough to handle giving up 43 points in a half.

    Turnovers also killed us ... Edinboro had 21 points off TO's; Gannon had just five.

    Our margin for error has fallen greatly ... make the rest of the games all that much more important ... the SRU game on 2/27 is very, very big now.

    Nice win by the women. The loudest crowd at a women's game since the 2010 NCAA regional final. One thing that the stat sheet won't show -- Nettie Blake had a horrible offensive night, but she shut down Blazetic at key situations during the second half run.

  4. Something seemed different tonight. Can't put my finger on it, but...

    Newby was pulled after turning it over a couple times early on, and didn't play the rest of the first half, after playing so well @ IUP. Seemed odd.

    Players didn't shoot the ball as confidently as they did @ IUP. Seemed hesitant at times.

    Blanton did appear to be hurting, but it looked like he was even before the spectacular dunk. Was he ill as well?

    Suddenly, Torrance wasn't dressed again. Did his back flare up or was there some kind of incident? He seemed to be moving around OK when playing catch with the Make-A-Wish kid before the game. They really missed his bulk inside vs. Theriot and his ability to go strong to the rim.

    Substitutions did seem to be off, as was mentioned above. Thought Furno did some good things in the first half, then played little in the second half until the last couple minutes.

    Don't know if the Edinboro hex was back tonight, but I do know that they are a team that you CANNOT allow to hang around because of their ability to explode at the offensive end. You take a chance keeping the game close and trying to win at the end. It's a lot easier to beat them over the first 35 minutes than trying to do so in the last 3. Hope the message got through.

    Perhaps this may end up being a "good" loss for GU. Perhaps they had gotten a little over-confident with their big road wins last week and didn't take Edinboro seriously enough. Perhaps they will take this as a much-needed kick in the butt and get their heads straight in time for the last few games. Let's hope.

  5. It's kinda of a thing where the Boro players wanted it more, similar to the way GU wanted it more than Iup. I think the Boro players were pumped allready then they saw a big crowd. Now a days players like going on the road and enjoy silencing a crowd. I don't think GU players were overconfident, I think they just played an average game versus an Edinboro team that was hungry and played great. Turnovers and coaching decisions made didnt help. And a loss at this point in the season can't help. I did say I had a bad feeling about this game.

  6. Way to go Lady Knights! A big win over a good Boro team. Just wanted to let everyone know that there is a really great article about Jen Papich in Thursday's Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

  7. Edinboro played a fearless game, and, made their big shots when they had to.

    Disappointing, but, we all knew that we would see Edinboro at their best. And, I'm of the opinion that Edinboro at their best is pretty good. Theriot might be the most unique player in D-2. (Found out last night his kid sister STARTS for Nebraska girls as a freshmam.) It's clear that he was coached very well throught the years. I'm guessing he was a statistical monster in high school.

    Very big games left on the schedule. Note what Clarion did to Mercyhurst last evening. One game at a time.

    I thought effort was fantastic last night. Newby defends great, but, has to respect the ball, especially in key (gulp, late) situations.

    Bottom line, we got stung last night, but, I think we're fine.

  8. #453 I am usually with you on most posts but just as Coach Reilly thought the team should have lost the Lock Haven game because of their lack of enthusiasm he should have taken full responsibility for that loss last night. I can not support him on this game.

    If your playing a team that only has two options on offense either get it to the big, slow, out of shape player or shoot the three, while running no plays how about using your very fast, in shape, highly athletic team and speed the game up???? NO we will continue to slow it down so Edinboro's big man can get set up or they have an opportunity to shoot the 3.

    Our biggest lead of the game was when Emmitt was at the point...didn't see any playing time in the second half. ???? Stop trying to use Blazek as a point guard he is NOT a college level point guard he is great 2 guard. I am a Erie, hometown kid fan just like all of us, but while I think he had a great year last year, he is playing with a crew with much more experience and is getting lost in the offense.

    There was alot of hesistation by the players to shoot. That is just weird. I thought it was just me noticing that last night.

    The absolute worst bit of coaching of the night was Gannon had only 4 team fouls with 4 min left. So Coach waited till one minute left to press? Makes no sense at all.

    Did we really plan to give the last shot of the game to guy who has the worst 3pt% out of the main guys who shoot them?

    Where was Rogerio? Give the big guy a chance, try it, something. I thought Tanner was doing some good things too.

    I am sorry for my hypocrisy. I always try to see the positive but that was pathetic last night we were absolutely outcoached. What a major disappointment.

    Thank you Darrell for a great dunk! I hope the coaches decide to show some "enthusiasm" on Saturday.

  9. Good points, ffro.

    Hmmmm....Edinboro basically runs nothing on offense as I see it. They sometimes literally chuck 3 pointers with 30 seconds on the shot clock. Some appear to be "driveway" shots that we all used to take when playing one-and-one, learning the game on our outside hoop.....rain, snow, or shine. (Do kids do that anymore???)

    Last night, they made several well-defended threes. Philisophical question: Were they good shots?????

    Hat's off to them. They are literally a team that can beat anyone if they are hot....or lose the same game by 12-15 points.

    The players on the floor are the ones who show up and practice as if it were game day. At any college level program, them's the rules.

    Again, I think we will be fine.

  10. Gotta give EU a lot of credit; their ball pressure in the second half was just too much to handle. I am disappointed that GU didn't play a more uptempo game; that's how they went on the big run at EU to win the game, with fast breaks and quick scores.

    Also disappointed (and confused) as to why Dmitry wasn't used at all to guard Theriot, even for a few minutes at a time. Dmitry could have gone in there to muscle him up for a couple of minutes at a time, wear Theriot out, just make it more difficult for him to score/rebound. I'm not saying that Dmitry would have dropped 25 points and shut out Theriot but make it harder on him than going up against guys that are 6'4". Perplexing as to why to never use the biggest guy on your roster against the giant guy on the other roster.

    Seems like GU needs to work on its last second plays, both defensively and offensively. At IUP and Cal, they almost allowed a game winning or tying 3-pointer. Last night (and on other previous occasions last year when they played so many close games) they looked lost on offense in the closing seconds. Again, great EU ball pressure but someone had to come help Blazek out there; he's getting double-teamed meaning someone else was open. A time out would have been nice there; too bad they got burned up too soon...

  11. Regarding dunks, I saw Tanner's dunk ... corner shot from the left came off the right side of the rim. Tanner caught the ball with his right hand, elbow above the rim and and slammed it home in one smooth motion. It was a crowd talker. Blanton has to be voted the player with the most spectacular dunks in a season. I particularly liked the two hand 180 dunk but his Wednesday addition was the best this season. One thing to dunk in open court but to dunk over a defender is priceless.

    Regarding Theriot, he had a monster game in part do to being guarded by a 6-3, 205 forward. Second half, Theriot had six straight points over top Rob. Then when GU doubled on him, he kicked it and in this game, they hit the threes. Even with Al out, Tanner, Roger, Dmitry were available. Tough being Dmitry this year - was a starter last season, then benched but still had active role to a grand total of 10 minutes of playing time this season. He is slow of foot and does not match up well to all the opposing centers except for Theriot. I thought he would play this game when Theriot but I/we hardly have the full scoop what goes on off game nights.

    Regarding the offense, I love it compared to last years though I think teams know it now and some different variations are needed. They could be running some that are not working when tried or I am missing them as well as GU missing their shots. Ex. Jabs faking that he is heading to his right to pass the ball to the wing, cross dibble his man and drive the middle or spread the floor and let Jabs take his man. Uses his quickness. Some screen and pops on the top of the circle or wings or back side double screens with Blanton rolling from the post. I would also like to see more of the offensive set with Tanner at 4, CJ at 5, and Blanton at 3 ... gives Blanton more opportunities for the drive or mid range jumper, etc. I know, being an armchair coach is easier than the actual and coaching is much harder than it looks

  12. Nobody wants to be one of those 20,21,22 win teams that don't get an NCAA bid (a goal, among others).

    Only thing to do is to take care of business against Clarion tomorrow.

    Kromka is mobile, and may present some problems.

    We'll see!! Go Knights!

  13. Saw all the dunks you mentioned. Blanton's was indeed impressive, but I rate it third behind Price's (who I consider the only player in Gannon history who rates with Blanton in sheer volume of impressive slams) against VU and Furno's @ Slippery Rock (mere words cannot express how impressively Tanner threw that one down and how far up he was while doing so).

    I must say that, even though it wasn't in a game, some of the dunks Glen Summors threw down in an impromptu dunking exhibition the GU players put on while waiting for refs that were delayed by weather prior to the 1972 Youngstown game continue unmatched in the annals of GU basketball. Ask your favorite codger about that night.

    1. Dang, I was at that YSU/Gannon game too. Dunking was banned at the time and players from both teams put on a spectacular show.

  14. Thanks for the dunk video ... Beats the heck out of this other GU video on YouTube:

  15. Memories.

    Indeed, I remember Summors' warm-up that night prior to the YSU game!!!

    Great call on that, Observor!!!


    We all gotta somhow include Mike Runski in this dunk discussion as well.

    He had a few "twirlers" in his day that were pretty darn good!!!.....especially since now (and, he would admit!!), he might have trouble jumping over a telephone book!!

    "Budman" can sure pump a softball out of the park,though, I hear!!!