Back in the days of telegrams, a St. Louis Cardinals scout once famously and succinctly rated a player "good field, no hit." If we had to summarize Gannon's 62-58 PSAC Quarterfinal overtime loss to Slippery Rock in four words, I'd suggest "great game, brutal loss." We're all devastated because what could have been a promising postseason run crashed back to earth in the first playoff game. But wow did we experience an epic slugfest in a raucous atmosphere. Here are some of my stream of consciousness thoughts on the game which you'll see are a mix of "wow" and "waaaah!"
* For a variety of
reasons, I had a bad feeling about this game as early as the first media
timeout: (1) defenses that sag off one player always mess things up,
(2) the boisterous Slippery Rock fans dominated the audio portion of the
game, (3) the home crowd seemed nervous, different from last week's
SRU/GU game, (4) Slippery Rock showed more confidence vs. the Gannon
defense, (5) the physicalness in the paint favored the Rock, and (6)
Mark Weir was one of the referees. Nothing against him personally, but
when he calls games something bad usually happens to the Knights.
The game reminded me of the NCAA East Regional final on March 8, 1986
when Cheyney nipped Gannon 65-62 at the Audi. Similarities included loud
opposing fans sitting in the bleachers behind the opponent's bench. I
can still here the Wolves fans taunting the Gannon faithful in the
closing seconds -- I'll say you sure are quiet! Oh boy -- you must be losing! You must be losing!
Another similarity was the defense not guarding the Gannon point guard
on the perimeter. Back then it was Juan Rodriquez. Some 27 years later
it was C.J. Oldham, who also wears uniform #3.
trying to think how much you'd have to pay me to watch that game again
on tape knowing the outcome. It had great moments, but it was
exasperating how many chances Gannon had to put the game away. Blazek
missed a bunny or two (or more) on his way to a 3-for-19 night. Robert
Wilson had a wide open left corner three late that missed. With Gannon
up 4 and their zillionth chance to seal the game, Gerald Brooks stole
the ball from Brandon Emmmit. I thought Brooks whacked him and Emmitt
should have been shooting free throws. I could go on and on -- many of the folks in the comment section have and will continue to do so
-- but that's just basketball. The Knights played outstanding defense
again, hurt SRU on the offensive boards, and deserved to win on those
hustle aspects alone. But they didn't make shots all night (21-for-70,
4-for-20 on threes), especially when it counted the most. As I said in
the headline, if you can't finish, you're finished.
about the stretch in the second half when Gannon corralled four
consecutive offensive rebounds against the #1 rebounding team in all of
college basketball before scoring ... and then took a charge seconds
later on defense. Fans will criticize some of John Reilly's strategies,
but you have to give the guy credit for molding a team who can do that.
The Slippery Rock bench was stunned they could be pushed around.
Speaking of questioning the coaches, I'd have yanked Oldham much sooner
or shifted him to the 4 position to thrwart SRU's defensive scheme.
Emmitt didn't enter the game until 8 minutes into the contest which
opened up the post immediately. When Oldham was in, he couldn't throw a
post entry pass because his man was sagging so far back he denied that
option. That really hindered Gannon's best offensive option of getting
the ball to Darrell Blanton in the post.
Jammermill is now closed. Blanton's career came to an end with a typical
performance: 17 points and 12 rebounds with intensity and energy that
could fuel a rocket ship trip to Saturn and back. I'm really going to
miss that kid. I love guys who are unselfish and never take a possession
off. And I'll miss his dunks, too.
I know everyone wanted Algeron Torrence to get more minutes, but
Slippery Rock immediately exploited his lack of foot speed when he
checked into the game. Torrence is a banger, but he couldn't guard any
of the Slippery Rock bigs who played in the second half. When Torrence
checked in, the Slippery Rock bench immediately called for plays to
isolate the multitalented Brooks and Torrence on the right wing. When
Reilly saw that, he had to get Torrence out or an SRU run would have
happened fast. I love the kid and hope he's back next year, but this
wasn't a great matchup for him.
* The emotion of
the game was incredible. I don't think I've seen Emmitt say two words
all year, but man was he pumped up. He let our a primal scream when
Tanner Furno took a charge midway through the second half. And I don't
know what it means when he points to his head after making a jumper, but
I hope to see a lot more of that next season.
* When the Rock fell at Gannon last week, Darious Clark
was a woeful 3-for-14 from the field, and during regulation time Tuesday
he didn't make a field goal despite playing for 20 minutes. Then he
goes and hits a nothing-but-net go-ahead three with 30 seconds left in
OT. That was one of many head-shaking events that happened in the game. I
love basketball, I hate basketball. I love basketball, I hate
I have more I can say, but I'm out of gas
at this point. It usually takes a week or so for my post-Gannon
basketball depression to sink it, but it's here already. I had ESPN on
before I wrote this and saw a Georgetown player warming up before their
game at Villanova. I thought, "This stinks. My team's season is over."
It will take a while to get over this one. I guess that's okay. I have
about eight months to get it together.
Updated 3/7/13: A longtime Gannon fan just stopped by my desk at work, and we realized that if Gannon had stopped Slippery Rock on their last possession in regulation and Edinboro had stopped IUP on their last possession in regulation, the PSAC finals would be at the Hammermill this weekend. The Knights were that close! I'm going to need all eight months to cope with this.