I know Wednesday night's season-opening 59-51 win over California (Pa.) was a ragged affair lacking many style points, but I was thrilled just to be back at the Hammermill Center for Gannon hoops. No matter how much the roster (or uniforms) changed, there were several things that made us Gannon fans feel right at home:
- Adam Blazek setting the
pace (20 points) with twisting moves, hesitation dribbles, quick-release
threes, and how'd-he-do-that steals
- Gannon assistant Chris
Viscuso in the game's closing minutes, veins popping on his head, while
screaming "RELAX!" to his troops
- official scorer Rick Klapthor correcting an overzealous opposing assistant coach, continuing Stats' decades-long streak of infallibility
- another John Reilly team that scraps, scrambles, and battles on defense and drubs its opponents on the boards (37-22).
my first look at this Gannon team, I was impressed with them
offensively despite 21 turnovers (12 in the first half). As Golden89
pointed out in the comments section, GU shot 49% from the field when
they were able to get a shot off. The Knights were out of sync on
offense -- it's November basketball, remember -- and I 'd rather have an
athletic team with good-looking shooting strokes needing to gel together
than the reverse of that.
Other thoughts and observations from the game:
It was evident to everyone in downtown Erie that freshman starter
Matthew Dogan was pressing in his first collegiate game. A can't-miss
shooter in high school, Dogan misfired on his first 5 attempts as a
Golden Knight and was scoreless at halftime. When he drained a
three-pointer with 5 1/2 minutes to play, giving Gannon a 48-42 cushion,
you could hear all of West Middlesex, Pa. exhale. From what I saw and
what I've heard, when Dogan is able to relax, he will be an outstanding
player. As former National Player of the Year Danny Ferry said back in
the day, at the start of your freshman year the game seems to be moving
100 mph. As you mature, everything seems to slow down.
One more observation of Dogan: despite his cold shooting night, he
demanded the ball when Cal was fouling in the final minute and hit on
five consecutive free throw attempts.
* And before anybody starts to panic about Dogan's first game, remember Adam Blazek's debut in 2011.
The Prep grad missed his first 7 field goal attempts and committed a
team-high 4 turnovers as the Knights lost at home to Daemen.
I really love the contribution junior starter A'Darius Porter makes
when he's on the floor (36 minutes vs. Cal). Porter, a muscular post
player who is built like The Thing from the Fantastic Four,
fought his way to 13 rebounds and demanded the ball when posting up.
He's a legitimate post threat that will open up GU's perimeter game.
Junior transfer Raphell Thomas-Edwards is a much different post player
than Porter, but I'm a fan of his game as well. He's high energy, super
athletic and relentless on both ends of the floor. In just 13 minutes
vs. the Vulcans, the University at Buffalo transfer produced 5 points
and 7 rebounds.
* As the season progresses, it will be
interesting to see if Jabs Newby and C.J. Oldham have expanded their
offensive games. Newby can accelerate like a Porsche when he has the
ball, but we didn't see him attempt any long jumpers Wednesday. Oldham
scored 9 points, all of them from close range. Those two will see plenty
of playing time this year, and if they can produce on offense, that
will take some pressure off the Gannon defense to keep opponents in the
* One of the Cal assistant coaches was
wearing a bowling shirt and corduroy slacks. My prediction is we won't
see that again this year at the Hammermill.
Speaking of fashion, the Knights debuted their gold uniforms last night.
Not to put pressure on anybody, but the last season Gannon introduced
gold unis was 1989-90, and that team won the region and advanced to the
UPDATED 11/21/13 7:30 PM: Here's the link to the video highlights and John Reilly post-game interview from last night. I think I saw something pretty cool at the 2:45 mark. Porter has the ball in the post and is feeling the pressure from the Cal defense. Look in the background and you'll see sitting on the end of the Gannon bench is walk-on Cory Bailey. Watch him stand up and point to an open Dogan at the top of the key. I swear Bailey shouts "kick it out" to Porter who does just that, leading to a key three-pointer. If that's what happened, major kudos to Bailey for being a great teammate. He's showing how important every member of the team can be.