Sunday, June 23, 2013

New Knight: A'Darius Porter F 6-6 235 jr.

According to a few sources, including the PSAC National Letters of Intent web page, power forward A'Darius Porter will be a member of the Gannon program this fall. And according to this You Tube highlight video, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound Porter can do it all.

The reality is Porter is a beast on the boards and tenacious defender, not a giant scorer. Last year as a sophomore at John Wood Community College in Quincy (Ill.), an NCJAA Division II school, Porter averaged 10.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He was in single digits for scoring the final four games of the season, but did average nearly 8 rebounds per game in those contests.

Before we get to his playing background, let's talk trivia. Porter will the first player in Gannon history with an apostrophe in his name -- first or last name. I figured at some point a guy named O'Neil, O'Brien, or D'Angelo would have worn maroon and gold, but I couldn't find one on the all-time roster. How 'bout that?"

So by my count, here is Gannon's incoming recruiting class:
* Matthew Dogan G 6-6 fr.
* Brandon Domenick G 5-9 fr.
* Marcus Jones G 6-1 fr.
* A'Darius Porter F 6-6 jr.
* Girbran Smith G 6-5 jr.
* Arthur "Tee" Talley G/F 6-6 jr.
* Raphell Thomas-Edwards F 6-6 jr.
* Nolan Woodward F 6-5 fr.

I'm intentionally profiling Jones and Woodward last because they are both Canadian students. It's not that I have anything against our friends from the north, it's just that it's harder to get admitted to an American school when you've been educated only in Canada. Jones and Woodward have signed letters of intent, but that step occurs before the school considers admitting the young man.

Here are some more details on Porter:

* As a sophomore, helped John Wood to a 22-10 record and Region XIV championship.
* In addition to averaging 10.1 ppg and 7.2 rpg, he shot 48.5% from the field, attempting only two three-pointers, and 69.4% from the foul line (118-for-170).
* Hit double figures in rebounds 7 times, including 13 boards vs. Danville Community College in the regional title game.
* Posted a season-high 23 points vs. Rock Valley College, sinking 10-of-12 field goals.
* Scored 17 points at Lincoln Land CC despite making just one field goal; hit 15-of-18 free throws. (Clearly fans of alliteration and childhood toys, the Springfield (Ill.) school's nickname is "Loggers.")
* Earned second-team all-Midwest Athletic Conference honors. League player of the year Chris Whitehead is headed to Division I Fordham. Porter helped limit Whitehead to just 10 points in the regional championship game. As this photo shows, Porter was ecstatic about the victory.
* This photo shows how John Wood won the game -- with guys like Porter hitting the floor to get a loose ball.
* Porter's John Wood bio from last year offers gems such as he doesn't like people touching his right hand on game days. I'll keep that in mind.
* A native of Stockbridge, Ga., which is just south of Atlanta, Porter is featured in this story about attending a school over 700 miles away from home. Erie's a bit farther away -- 827 miles to be exact.
* As a freshman at John Wood, averaged 8.9 ppg and 7.8 rpg. Connected on 49% of his field goals and 53% of his foul shots.
* This slideshow includes a few photos of Porter in action for the Blazers.
* I couldn't find a ton on his high school career at Woodland (Ga.) HS, but this writeup on a playoff game includes a quote from Porter and a nice stat line: 12 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists.
* Played AAU ball for the FCI Warriors, an Atlanta-area basketball team.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Whoa Brunelli! Lady Knights Find Their Man

Jim Brunelli was named Gannon's head women's basketball coach this morning at a university press conference. Here is the official press release from Gannon and also Brunelli's Twitter account so you can get some insight into his interests and personality.

I know the initial reaction is that Brunelli is under immense pressure to win the PSAC, the region, and the national championship here in Erie next March. I don't see it that way and I'm guessing Brunelli, because he's a mature coach (don't let his boyish looks fool you), doesn't share the view of many fans.

From a strictly basketball perspective, Job #1 for Brunelli in the 2013-14 season is to get to know this team, its many strengths and few weaknesses. Job #2 is to make sure they get better every day. He's got to get his program to dream about the Elite 8 but not dwell on it. The focus has to be on individuals working hard, playing smart, and improving their game. They don't hand out trophies in practice, but that's usually where they're earned. The Lady Knights have to think "Cheyney" before they think "championship." If Brunelli can make this team better, the wins will take care of themselves.

Personally, I'm excited Gannon lured a quality coach like Brunelli to Erie. Forget all his basketball background and NCAA history. He's a western PA native, and those area roots could result in a stable Lady Knight program that could experience a long run of success. Fans are thinking mostly about next year because the team is so loaded. But I think the university also wanted a person with the character and local connections who can be the foundation for year-in, year-out success in academics and athletics for the next decade or more.