Saturday, February 16, 2013

Knights Tenacious D Smothers Clari-yawn

Before we heap kudos on the Gannon defense after their resounding 68-47 win over Clarion Saturday afternoon, think for a moment what it would be like to be a Clarion fan this season. Transfer the passion you have for the Golden Knights to the Golden Eagles, and consider how you would (if you could) tolerate this season. Historically, Clarion has produced some talented teams and won their share of games under longtime coach Dr. Ron Righter. Included on their alumni list are John Calipari, Kwame Morton, Dan Chojnacki, Mike Sisinni, Terry Roseto, and Joe DeGregorio. But this year the team is 6-17 overall and 4-15 in the PSAC, just one game ahead of hapless Lock Haven. You'd have a better lot if you were an LHU fan; at least your team is on the rise from the ashes, not plummeting to earth like a meteor in Russia.

We like to complain on this blog when Gannon's offense is sluggish or why some talented players aren't seeing more action. How would you react when your team doesn't get out of the 40s against Gannon, Slippery Rock, and Mercyhurst? And think if your head would still be on your shoulders Gannon lost its season/home opener to non-scholarship Thiel and followed that up losing at home to non-scholarship LaRoche? As far as the players, we all saw the Golden Eagles for 40 minutes yesterday. Some Gannon Hoops fans who made the trip to Clarion have seen them in two games vs. the Knights. Do you see any players on that team you'd complain should be on the floor more? Do you see one player on that team who would even start for Gannon? The nicest thing you could say about CU's best players would be, "He's decent."

I was thinking if I ran a blog for Clarion this year what some of the headlines would be:
* Augh! We Lost To A Division III Team!
* Gaaaaaa! We Lost To A DIII Team Again!
* We're Still Better Than Lock Haven -- Barely
* Thank God Central Penn Is Still On The Schedule
* Dr. Righter Making Me Sick
* We Have The Most Boring Team In America
* I'm Going To Start Blogging About Curling Instead Of Clarion Basketball

Enough about the Golden Eagles -- let's turn to the Golden Knights, who cracked the 20-win plateau for the first time in 4 seasons. Gannon's defense pressured and suffocated Clarion from the outset, limiting the Eagles to 11 points in the first 14+ minutes of the game. It was interesting to see John Reilly's adjustments on defense for this game. Instead of pickup up at midcourt, the Knights often showed full-court pressure, sometimes denying the inbound pass. Instead of "showing and recovering" on ball screens, Gannon frequently double-teamed the ballhandler. And Gannon doubled its average blocked shots for a game, swatting away 5 Clarion attempts. I was thrilled that GU jumped on a team that had shocked Mercyhurst three days earlier. Reilly's strategy and the team's execution squelched any upset bid early on.

Knight Knotes:
* BIG thanks to everyone who donated their time and money to Saturday's Pink Zone event. My Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer book signing event was a success, raising $135 for the Pink Zone charity and giving me the chance to chat with many Gannon Hoops fans in the Hammermill lobby. Thanks for your support!

* I'm not sure about C.J. Oldham running the point, which we saw a lot of yesterday. On one hand, having a 6-foot-8 forward handle the ball allows Oldham to see over defenses and dribble against a slower defender who is less likely to bollix up the offense with pressure D. On the other hand, Oldham committed 5 turnovers yesterday and isn't an outside threat. Not sure if this was a temporary experiment or if Reilly just found out there's a trophy for Tallest Division II Point Guard that he wants to get his hands on.

* Not sure how this happens, but it did. In one 4-day span, Mercyhurst gets shellacked at Clarion by 27 and shocks nationally ranked IUP, 57-48. As Golden89 says in the comments below, I'm not sure how the tie-breakers work, but Gannon has a legit shot at finishing the season with the same record as the PSAC West-leading Crimson Hawks. But from a big picture standpoint -- i.e. making the NCAA tournament -- I still think Gannon needs to win out and get to the PSAC finals to feel comfortable about an NCAA bid with a 25-6 record. Anything less than that could leave us out in the cold come Selection Sunday.

* Saturday's Millersville/Kutztown game was postponed until Monday for a reason I'd never seen before: As this press release says, "Illness and injuries left KU without enough healthy players." The wacky PSAC East gets even more bizarre.

* Friendly reminder: The first Atlantic Region rankings are due out Wed., Feb. 20. If Gannon had whipped Edinboro at the Audi, I'd be really pumped to see where the Knights stand. Now I'm hoping they'll be top 8 material. Expect in the mix these dozen clubs -- from the WVIAC: West Liberty (24-1), Fairmont State (18-6), Alderson-Broaddus (16-7), and Charleston (16-7); from the CIAA: Winston-Salem (19-4), Livingstone (18-5), and Johnson C. Smith (16-8); and from the PSAC: East Stroudsburg (20-3), IUP (19-4), Slippery Rock (17-6), Gannon (20-5), and West Chester (17-6).


  1. Mercy hurst upsets #11 IUP 57-48 while Shippensburg upsets #9 east stroudsburg 87-77

  2. I was unable to make the game, but it looked like a pretty straightforward win. Never really in doubt.

  3. And as mmccoy noted, the plot thickens at the top of the West.

    IUP is 15-4 and GU / SRU are both 14-5. And monster games remain ... IUP travels to SRU on February 23 and SRU visits Gannon on Feb 27. Not sure what the tie-breakers are, but Slippery Rock now controls its destiny for at least a share of the PSAC title. Someone help ... what is the tie-breaker and does Slippery Rock control its path to the PSAC West title?

    And the other exciting race is for the PSAC East punch line ... which one of the four 5-14 or worse sides is the worst of the worst and will miss the playoffs? Ship, Bloom, Mansfield, and Kutztown are all separated by merely one game ... this should be fun!

    1. And Ship beat the top of the East tonight.

  4. Regarding the Millersville / KU tilt, if injuries and illnesses force you to not have enough players, then isn't that a forfeit? "My starting center twisted his ankle and my starting small forward has an elbow bruise. Can we just play a couple days later when they're feeling better?

  5. Did anyone see the West Liberty/Fairmont State game on Root Sports on Saturday? West Liberty won a close contest at Fairmont State. Both teams look strong and well coached--but beatable.

  6. I don't see why Gannon couldn't beat any team in this region. When this coaching staff comes up with a good gameplan and this team playing high energy basketball and can score they can beat anybody. I can't imagine how West Liberty would react if they saw some defense for the first time. This team and coaching staff cannot have anymore let downs like Edinboro.

  7. I've watched Darrell Blanton's dunk from Wednesday a bunch of times now and found my best reaction to it. Watch the Edinboro player sitting closest to their coaching staff. He recoils after Blanton nearly breaks off the rim. Good stuff. (Literally.)

  8. How does it feel to be a Clari-yawn fan? Like it felt to be a Gannon fan the past three seasons.

    1. Lifer, good to know that you don't let things linger. One would think that earning the 20th win of the season would be cause for at least a little mild excitement. Guess unless the sky is falling, you don't notice.

      On two other notes: good bounce back from the loss to Edinboro. Tremendous intensity on both ends and contributions from everyone who played. And congrats to the Lady Knights, clinching a first-round bye and a quaterfinal host in the league tournament. The combined point guard play of Kelly Sundberg and Amanda Berchtold the last two games (well, game and a half; first half of 'Boro game was so unlike them)has been stellar.

      Good luck to both squads the rest of the way.

  9. I think at this point, it is pretty simple what the guys have to do. If they get to 25 wins, they should get in the NCAA tourney. They HAVE to win the last three games of the regular season. They can't overlook Mercyhurst & they need to beat SRU to end the season. 23-5 heading into the PSAC Tourney means make it to the PSAC Title game and you are in very good shape to make the NCAA's. If they were to lose to SRU and enter the tournament 22-6, the path is simple: they need to in my view than WIN the PSAC Tourney.

    Another factor to consider, which GU has no control over, is what happens in the other conference tourneys. If some upsets were to occur in the other two conf. tourneys, the WVIAC and CIAA I believe, there goes two at-large bids that GU is battling for. They could finish 25-6 or 25-7 and still miss the NCAA's if some upsets happen in the CIAA and WVIAC tourneys.

  10. Amazing.

    The men's program is on the cusp of some of the most exciting basketball in five years, and someone moans about the last three.

    Those last several years were a lot of things. But, boring they were not!


    How about the consistent, productive play of Oscar Macias this year?

  11. I've seen a copy of the 2013-14 PSAC schedule and Gannon fans who have seen it aren't exactly thrilled. The Knights have only 2 Saturday conference games all season, and one of them is in early December. Seems like next year we might be forced to have a Pink Zone / Make A Wish / Senior Night game. How come local softball leagues can put together balanced schedules but the PSAC can't?

  12. OK ... Regional rankings come out Wednesday. How about some predictions??

    1. West Liberty 2. East Stroudsburg 3. Winston-Salem 4. IUP 5. Livingstone 6. Slippery Rock 7. Gannon 8. Fairmont State

    1. I'm going to go with:

      1. West Liberty 2. Winston-Salem 3. East Stroudsburg 4. Fairmont State 5. IUP 6. Livingstone 7. Slippery Rock 8. Gannon

      SRU and Gannon have almost identical schedules as far as Ws and Ls, but SRU won head-to-head.

    2. I'll go with my best guess

      1. West Liberty 2. East Stroudsburg 3. Winston-Salem 4. IUP 5. Fairmont State 6. Livingstone 7. Slippery Rock 8. Gannon

      Which if accurate puts us right on the edge of the tourney. Whoever loses the SRU vs GU game may be the team that misses the NCAA's.

  13. Just remember when the rankings come out Gannon only gets credit for games with teams in the Atlantic region. This means for region ranking we have 17 wins because wins against Roberts Wesleyan,Daemen and Notre Dame college will not count. I have not check the other top teams in the region to see how many non region games the may have also.

    1. Bob: My understanding is that every game this year qualifies as "in-region." Every team is a Division II team and they are either in the Atlantic region or in a state touching Pennsylvania. "In-region" is considered any teams in your region or in a state touching the state you are in.

      My source for this info is Gannon SID Dan Teliski, so if it's wrong, feel free to take a swing at him Wednesday at Mercyhurst.

  14. Jim: I checked the 2013-14 PSAC schedule after your comment above. You're is not very friendly to GU. Only two Saturday home games: one in Dec (Mercyhurst) and one in Feb(Seton Hill). Every other Sat game is on the road with two Sat byes. How about Cal @ GU on Nov 20th! I hope that is not the season opener!

  15. GU 68 -- The Nov 20 game against Cal is guaranteed to be the season opener because GU is stuck with the two tournaments -- the Thanksgiving weekend Gary Miller Classic and the shove-it-in-mid-December-because-we-have-no-better-place-for-it Porreco Cup. That puts us at the 26 game limit (the two early November games are exempt and cannot be annual).

    I bet that the women's team has a game before November 20.

    1. Golden 89: I'm afraid you are correct. The GM classic is a fixture at Thanksgiving. The Porreco Cup "could" be the season opener the weekend of Nov 15 & 16 but not very likely. GU will not cancel the Porreco Cup all together in favor of two independent home games (one before Nov 20)because Lou Porreco has been a long time supporter of GU.

      Well, at least the Cal game is at home.

  16. Gannon Men's Basketball Team Remains in National Rankings at No. 24

    ERIE, Pa. – The Gannon men's basketball team is still ranked in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC)/Division II Top 25 Coaches' Poll released Tuesday afternoon. The Golden Knights are tabbed 24th, being nationally-ranked for the second consecutive week.

    Metropolitan State (Colo.) remained the top-ranked team for the fifth consecutive poll with a perfect 22-0 record. The Roadrunners received 13 of the 16 first-place votes. Western Washington (24-0) finished second in the voting while securing three first-place votes. West Liberty (W.Va.) (24-1), Cal Poly Pomona (21-1) and Seattle Pacific (Wash.) (19-3) completed the top five.

    Florida Southern (19-3), Winston-Salem State (N.C.) (19-4), Alabama-Huntsville (19-4), Minnesota State (20-4) and East Stroudsburg (Pa.) (20-3) rounded out the top 10.

    Gannon is one of three Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) teams listed in the top 25. East Stroudsburg (10th) and Indiana (Pa.) (14th) are ranked ahead of the Golden Knights. West Liberty (3rd) and Winston-Salem State (W.Va.) (7th) also represent the NCAA Division II Atlantic region in the top 25.

    Head coach John T. Reilly's club moved to 20-5 overall and 14-5 in the PSAC with a split last week, falling to Edinboro (67-64) and defeating Clarion (67-48). The Golden Knights clinched the 25th 20-win season in school history with last Saturday's win against the Golden Eagles.

    Gannon sits in a second-place tie with Slippery Rock in the PSAC Western Division with three regular-season games remaining. Both teams trail division-leading IUP by one game. Gannon returns to action Wednesday, February 20 against rival Mercyhurst at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

    NABC/Division II Coaches Poll (Feb. 19, 2013 – Regular season poll #12)
    Record Points Pvs
    1. Metropolitan State, Colo. (13 first place votes) 22-0 397 1
    2. Western Washington (3 first place votes 24-0 387 2
    3. West Liberty, W.Va. 24-1 365 3
    4. Cal Poly Pomona 21-1 355 4
    5. Seattle Pacific, Wash. 19-3 336 5
    6. Florida Southern 19-3 300 6
    7. Winston-Salem State, N.C. 19-4 282 14
    8. Alabama-Huntsville 19-4 276 7
    9. Minnesota State 20-4 266 8
    10. East Stroudsburg, Pa. 20-3 235 9
    11. Drury, Mo. 19-4 215 18
    12. Saint Anselm, N.H. 19-4 213 10
    13. Wisconsin-Parkside 18-5 189 21
    14. Indiana, Pa. 19-4 176 11
    15. Bellarmine, Ky. 18-5 157 13
    16. Southern Indiana 18-5 151 23
    17. Fort Lewis, Colo. 17-4 149 22
    18. Winona State, Minn. 22-5 132 15
    19. Lincoln Memorial, Tenn. 18-4 120 20
    20. Saint Leo, Fla. 18-5 101 16
    21. Newman, Kan. 19-4 70 NR
    22. St. Cloud State, Minn. 19-5 60 NR
    23. Franklin Pierce, N.H. 18-5 56 NR
    24. Gannon, Pa. 20-5 55 17
    25. Dixie State, Utah 18-5 46 19

    Dropped out: Indianapolis (12), North Alabama (24), Washburn (25).

    Others receiving votes: Carson-Newman (Tenn.) 35, Benedict (S.C.) 13, Fairmont State (W.Va.) 12, Wingate (N.C.) 10, North Alabama 8, Michigan Tech 7, Indianapolis (Ind.) 6, Augustana (S.D.) 5, Barton (N.C.) 5, Dominican (N.Y.) 4, Assumption (Mass.) 3, Grand Canyon (Ariz.) 1, Kentucky Wesleyan 1, Wayne State (Mich.) 1.

    Records are through games of Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013.

  17. I'm gonna take a guess at the Regional Rankings...

    1) West Liberty
    2) East Stroudsburg
    3) Winston-Salem
    4) IUP
    5) Gannon
    6) Slippery Rock
    7) Fairmont State
    8) Livingstone

    I'm going on a limb with these obviously... but by looking at records as well as National Rankings (points)... I don't see how Rock, Fairmont and Livingstone could be ahead of Gannon. None have 20 wins, Fairmont only has 12 votes and Livingstone and Rock aren't ranked or even others receiving votes.

  18. Let's make this interesting ... We can make the rankings game a contest. You get one point for every numerical ranking different from yours. For example, if IUP is ranked 4th, Corey gets 0 points. If IUP is ranked 3rd or 5th, Corey gets one point. If IUP is 2nd or 6th, Corey gets two points. If a team is on the rankings, but you didn't rank them, assume that you ranked them 9th. For example, if Mercyhurst is ranked 8th, Corey gets one point. If Edinboro is ranked 7th, Corey gets two points. Same for a team you ranked that is not in the rankings. If Slippery Rock is not in the top 8, Corey gets 9-6 = 3 points.

    Lowest score wins. While we cannot offer prizes of cash or merchandise, the winner gets to hurl on-line insults at the losers for one whole day (with Jim's permission). :-)

    1. I can take it. I said I was going on a limb. If you win, you win! :-)

  19. If the National Rankings are a sign of the regional rankings, I think GU may be ok. We will see tomorrow, feeling a bit of optimism about it

  20. 1. West Liberty
    2. Winston Salem
    3. East Stroudsburg
    4. IUP
    5. Gannon
    6. Livingstone
    7. Fairmont st
    8. West Chester
    9. Slippery Rock
    10. Johnson c. Smith

  21. Regional rankings came out about 3 pm. We're 8th.
    1 West Liberty 21-1 21-1
    2 Winston-Salem State 17-3 16-3
    3 Fairmont State 17-4 17-4
    4 East Stroudsburg 19-3 19-3
    5 Indiana (Pa.) 18-4 18-4
    6 Livingstone 16-5 16-4
    7 Alderson-Broaddus 16-7 16-7
    8 Gannon 19-5 19-5
    9 Johnson C. Smith 15-8 14-8
    10 Wheeling Jesuit 15-8 15-8

  22. Regional Poll
    1 West Liberty
    2 Winston-Salem State
    3 Fairmont State
    4 East Stroudsburg
    5 Indiana (Pa.)
    6 Livingstone
    7 Alderson-Broaddus
    8 Gannon

    Alright, so if I've done my math right the winner of (the unofficial) Roddy's Regional Rankings Basketball Balooza IS:
    Jim Roddy!

    1. Jim - 7
    2. ewensel - 10
    3. mmccoy - 12
    4. Golden89 - 16
    5. Corey - 18

    1. Where do I pick up my prize? Or is my prize I get to keep posting?

  23. um so looking at the regional rankings...
    1) It says its through 17th, yet Gannon only has 19 wins listed for overall record.
    2) Assuming these are just typos, but how do some of these records figure?
    Winston-Salem is 17-3 in region and 16-3 overall..?
    Livingstone is 16-5 in region but 16-4 overall...?
    JC Smith is 15-8 in region but 14-8 overall....?

    can you have a region win or loss that doesn't count for or against your overall record...?

    1. also, sucks to be a Slipery Rock faithful. Almost identical record to Gannon, very close schedule to Gannon and Rock beat Gannon... not even in top 10.... ouch!

  24. How gannon is 8th behind aldersonB is ridiculous. They have two more losses and three less wins. They've played a slightly harder nonconferense chedule IMO but they Lost to Iup and we beat Iup so theoretically that means were better than them.