A few themes emerged this weekend during the Porreco Cup as the Knights were schooled in the opener by Shepherd (WV), 85-75, before rebounding against discombobulated Barton (NC), 81-58:
the Knights decide to be aggressive with the ball -- pushing it down
the court in transition and attacking off the dribble -- they can indeed
put up some points. Entering the tournament, GU was averaging a
measly 58 ppg but during the Porreco Cup they averaged 78 ppg, a
whopping 20 ppg improvement. Now part of the credit/blame goes to the
Rams and Bulldogs who shot quickly and didn't defend well, especially in
the paint. Either way, the Knights proved in back-to-back games they
can put the ball in the basket and we are not required to endure a 7-minute
dry spell each game.
Tee Talley proved he can be a
handful, riddling Barton for 20 points (on 8-of-15 shooting) and 11
rebounds. I heard Bulldog coach Ron Lievense challenge one of his players
who was guarding Talley: "That tall kid is killing us! Are you telling
me that a 6-foot-7 kid is quicker than you? Hang on him and do not let
him get the ball!" The player didn't answer Lievense's question, but
Talley scored a layup on the ensuing inbounds play, proving once again
that actions speak louder than words. (More on the Barton coaching
staff's loud words later.)
2. We need to Move Up The Cup.
I don't see who it's serving keeping the Porreco Cup in December. With
home tournaments in late November and December, the Knights force
themselves to play league games right off the bat, so it doesn't benefit
the players or coaches. And I have photo evidence to prove the Porreco
Cup in mid-December isn't a fan favorite.
3. I know Gannon is a Catholic university, but the Knights need to be a little sneakier if they want to win consistently.
I sat one row behind the opponents' benches for both Porreco Cup games,
and both clubs (especially Shepherd) knew exactly what they were
getting. Every possession I've seen this year live and via streaming
video, Gannon has played man defense. I'm not suggesting Gannon sag in a
2-3 zone -- that's not John Reilly's style to sit back on defense --
but you have to get inside the other team's head occasionally. Even Bob
Dukiet, who was a man-first, ask-questions-later defensive genius, would
go 1-2-2 on occasion, sometimes even trapping on the baseline or wing.
Every play the opposing coaches drew up in their huddle this weekend was
designed for a man defense; and every time they were able to run that
play because Gannon was playing man.
One of my
favorite memories as a Gannon player was when we switched defenses with a
one-point lead in the final seconds at the University of Buffalo in
1990. With the shot clock off, UB called its final timeout. Coach
Reilly, then an assistant, suggested Dukiet switch to a box-and-one on
the Bulls leading scorer, which is what we did. Confused and with his
teammates and coaching staff panicking, a Buffalo player picked up his
dribble at the top of the key and called a timeout, resulting in a
technical foul. We won that game not just with our heart and feet but
with our heads. I'm not asking Gannon to change its defensive
philosophy. Just don't telegraph what you're going to do every
On offense, the Knights were well-scouted
by Shepherd. With their defense in front of their bench in the first
half, the Rams coaches were like NBA 2K14 gamers,
instructing their players exactly what Gannon was going to do next.
Picture this: the Knights would cross midcourt and set up their offense.
Coach Reilly would yell, "Hey!" and the Shepherd staff would look right
at him. Reilly would yell something like "Box!" and an SU assistant
would shout to his players something to the effect of, "Kevin, watch out
for two cross screens ... Marcus they're going to backscreen you" or
"Box! Box! They want to go high-low on this. Help out in the post."
Again, I'm not saying Gannon needs to shred its current playbook, but
I'm thinking it would be helpful if they created some codes or read
options on offense to give them a better chance at scoring.
know all analogies break down at some point, but I think a good one for
this is baseball pitching. The pitcher is at an advantage if they can
keep the batter off balance, wondering if he's going to see a fastball,
change-up, or breaking ball. On the other hand, if the catcher yells,
"Curveball up and on the outer half of the plate," the pitcher will be
On the other hand, what do I know? I coach my daughter's 7-8 year old MYAA basketball team, and Saturday afternoon we gave up 50 points during a 32-minute game with a running clock. I'm sure the "coaches" in the stands have several suggestions for me, too.
I'll add an update to this post later
with some more anecdotes from behind the opponents' bench that I think
you'll find interesting. In a span of 24 hours, I saw I think one of the
best coaches and one of the most abusive coaches in the history of the