Saturday, January 18, 2014

Eerie Rivalry Game

I always get super-excited for Gannon's games against local rivals Edinboro and Mercyhurst. Saturday was no exception, and I'm fired up that Gannon is in the thick of the PSAC West race after thumping the Fighting Scots 71-59. But during the game my enthusiasm was somewhat dampened by the strange atmosphere at McComb Fieldhouse.

I recall the days when Gannon fans had three concerns when traveling to Edinboro: the ice on I-79, losing to an always prepared Greg Walcavich-led team, and being confronted by literally fighting Scots fans. I remember sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with fans in 1987 and being careful not to celebrate too demonstratively when Roland Shannonhouse's putback sent a classic GU/EU game into overtime. My freshman year (1988-89), I recall Edinboro fans not only throwing toilet paper onto the court to celebrate their first basket but also launching a hamburger and orange at the Gannon bench. As a senior, Edinboro students tried blocking our way onto the court for pregame warmups until Juan Rankin shoved a couple guys out of his way.

Saturday I had to look around to see if any fans were there to support the Scots. When Edinboro scored, it was like somebody hit the mute button on the television. Gannon fans rooted for the Knights, but there was nobody to cheer against, which enhances local rivalries.

I know Tom Taylor, Land Battle, Jose Davis, and Billy Wade aren't walking through those doors, but aren't there at least 150 people in the Edinboro community with intact voice boxes to support their team when their archrival pays a visit in 2014?

Other thoughts on the game:
* I love watching Adam Blazek and his unique style of play. The stat sheet shows a game-high 18 points in 40 minutes, but I'm most entertained by his ballhawking defense and change of pace on offense. One of his four steals yesterday was on an outlet pass after a missed field goal attempt. He anticipated the pass and shot like a cannon from between the circles to the right wing.

* UPDATED 1/19/14 3:50 PM: I was just watching the video highlights of the game on the Gannon website and came across maybe Blazek's best play of the game (screen grab pictured above). I didn't notice what he pulled off when I saw it live. In fact, I recall thinking he was forcing the issue on a fast break before throwing what appeared to be a wraparound bounce pass. Instead, he treated defender Alex Moore like a croquet wicket. The play happens at the 1:57 mark of this video. Tremendous!

* Edinboro's Bryan Theriot is the best Division II center I've seen in a long time. He gets great position in the paint, catches everything thrown at him, keeps the ball high, and has a soft touch from 10 feet and in. The Knights focused their defense on him and had Raphell Thomas-Edwards, A'Darius Porter, and Roger Livramento body up with Theriot all afternoon, and he still hit for 17 points. So what does that say about the rest of the Edinboro program with the Scots 0-6 in the PSAC West? EUP is just 3-9 this year against Division II foes and I didn't see anything yesterday telling me that was a fluke.

* I'm curious to see how John Reilly uses Jabs Newby and Tee Talley the rest of the season. Both are excellent playmakers, but they've seen little action during Gannon's current four-game win streak. Would you change the rotation? Reilly inserted the pair at the end of the first half following Tom Chapman's credo that if you might need someone in the second half, you'd better play them in the first. Both players were engaged in the game sitting on bench -- and standing when their teammates excelled -- but the lack of PT has to be eating at them.

* Thomas-Edwards may need to run some extra sprints at the next Gannon practice. He was 4-of-6 at the line -- not a bad shooting chart -- but hit teammates were 21-for-21. Gannon didn't play its best game of the year at the Boro, but the scintillating free throw shooting ensured a victory.

36 comments:

  1. Highly annoyed that this game is in the afternoon. It's not like the visiting team needs to get home.

    Is this the first-ever Gannon-Edinboro game ever?

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    1. Practically all Saturday PSAC games have been 1&3. I think that's a PSAC thing, not a Gannon-Boro thing.

      But I agree. Rivalries should be 530&730.

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  2. Nice photo of Jabs in the Erie Sometimes News this morning. Would have been even nicer if the caption didn't identify Jabs as "junior Tee Talley."

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  3. It's not a PSAC requirement ... Of the eight games today, three are night and five are in the afternoon. The GLIAC had the requirement of Saturday afternoon; the PSAC does not for intra-division games.

    Cal and Clarion always play division Saturday games in the evening.

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  4. Why do I keep getting the urge to get an Associate of Arts in General Studies from Southern Wesleyan University?

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  5. I don't want this to happen, but I'm predicting a loss for GU today. It just seems like our luck.

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  6. Glad I was wrong. Just seemed like a trap game.

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  7. Congratulations to the men's team for posting another win. I'm writing this to see if the worldwide internet is still running. Seems to only have activity when the team loses.
    Tough loss for the women, but not entirely surprising, as Coach Swank seems to have another talented group this year.

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    1. Can't believe Boro women had that good of a record (and only .5 gsme out of first) and are not ranked.

      I really didnt consider this an "upset" for Gannon. Edinboro was one of tr more talented teams they've played and ranking doesn't do justice for the matchup.

      And I'm in total agreement I was fearing a loss in the worst way today. Big upset over 5th ranked IUP and edinboro getting shredded in OT to mercyhurst. Seemed like the perfect formula for a loss. One team hungover from the ambience of a huge upset ad the other biting at the bits to get back on the court and forget their last game. Glad it went out way :-)

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  8. Boze, Eric Thomas sends his regards. And I agree about this place being quiet after men's wins.

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    1. ET, one of the true WEIRD people in the entire state, and a really good guy.

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  9. Had to miss the men's game today, but it looks like a solid effort. The most encouraging stat is: Turnovers -- EU 15, GU 13. If we can control turnovers, this team can beat anyone. It was also encouraging to see that GU won the rebound battle only 33-30. We can win a game in a more conventional fashion without having to have a monster rebounding effort.

    Good to see eight guys get double-figures in minutes today. While having the same five guys play the last 13 minutes of the IUP game and the OT was a gutty effort, it's not a great long-term strategy, so good to see Reilly using the depth a bit more.

    Incidentally, my Google Ad at the bottom of my screen is an ad for Franklin University, who was the opponent in Tom Chapman's first game at GU coach. The game was played in the Civic Center as part of the Gary Miller Classic tripleheader, before it became a tournament. Any GU fan in attendance will never forget Chapman walking out on the floor in a tuxedo.

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  10. Just saw the score from The Rock: Slippery Rock 64, Mercyhurst 43.

    And with 8:28 to go in the game: Cal 46, IUP 38. Yikes.

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  11. With IUP loosing to Cal 59 to 56 at IUP, that puts GU in a tie for 2nd with IUP in the west, just behind SRU.
    Still in it guys.

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  12. And that'll do it. ... Cal nearly blows a 13-point lead in the final four minutes, but hangs onto win. #5 IUP loses at home to 7-9 Cal 59-56. They won't be number five next week.

    And just one-half game separates the top four in the PSAC west. Mercyhurst and Slippery Rock lead at 4-1; IUP and Gannon are tied for third at 4-2.

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  13. Whoops ... PSAC must not have updated standings for afternoon games:

    Slippery Rock 5-1
    Gannon 5-2
    IUP, Mercyhurst 4-2

    That win at SRU is looking awfully big right now (and yes, home loss to Hurst really stinks, too)

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  14. Update from the PSAC site
    SRU 5-1
    GU 5-2
    IUP 4-2
    McH 4-2
    SH & PJ 3-3
    CU 1-5
    EUP 0-6

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  15. Gigantic swing in PSAC West Standings today!

    "Crickets" from some familiar names on the site.....

    .......Game at a time!!!

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  16. Critics where are you? Do you have anthing positive to say? Way to shut the critics up {Gannon} basketball team and coaches.

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  17. You don't 'shut the critics up' with a win over a team that is now 0-6 in the league.

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  18. Please, Jeremy.....

    This team has battled back to be in the thick of the PSAC West race.

    You know it, and, I know it: The 'Boro, especially with one of the best D-2 centers in the country, is a dangerous team.

    Give our our team some credit.

    I only say that, because, had things gone the other way, we all would have surely heard from you.

    ---------------------

    Wonderin' if the IUP blog is all lit up with calls for Coach Lombardi (a year-ago favorite on this site...) to be fired......How dare they lose to Cal. At home no less.

    ....Assuming there is an IUP blog!!!!


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  19. With the way this team is clicking, I don't see any lineup changes. Smith has truly emerged and Blazek/Emmitt have been good enough at the point. I feel jabs and tee will be solid reserves (ESP in foul trouble situations)

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  20. 453- did you even notice that I was one of the first commenters after the IUP game- and I gave not only the players but the coaches credit? Or was that selective reading?

    The guys are playing nice basketball right now, but again, Edinboro is not the Edinboro of the past and one big guy doesn't make a great team.

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  21. Every sports blog in every sport is substantially quieter when the affected team wins. Par for the course.

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  22. Jim, watching Erin Andrews yesterday brought back memories of post-game interviews after road losses; "You ask the first question." "No, YOU ask the first question!"
    Great win for the team. Any road win in this league is a big win.

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  23. Yes Jeremy, I did read your comments.

    We can all agree that Edinboro is not a great team, but, a dangerous one. After a great win against IUP, we cold have been lulled into a trap.

    Fortunately, the entire team was focused, and, took care of business.

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  24. Edinboro is not a dangerous team. You can't be 0-6 in your conference and be a dangerous team. Theriot is amazing in that someone with his size and a three inch vertical leap can move so well and be so effective on both ends of the court. Hats off to him. But the Boro game was never in doubt. There was never a time when that old oh-no-we-might-lose feeling popped up. Blazek, by the way, was unreal in the Boro game. If anyone is really dangerous it's number 5. He's like a miniature John Havlicek.

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  25. One game at a time, at this point Gannon has complete control of their destiny as far as the PSAC West goes. Just need to win.

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  26. Here's something we can all agree on: it's great to see Adam Blazek named PSAC player of the week.

    http://www.gannonsports.com/news/2014/1/20/MBB_0120145427.aspx

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  27. In league play, I think every team can be dangerous. Just ask IUP from Saturday night. Just ask (#4 ranked)Villanova last evening. And, if I remember correctly, Edinboro cut the lead to (perhaps?) 6 in the second half, before we buckled down and took care of business.

    Congrats to Adam Blazek!!

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    1. I agree. Conference play is a whole different ball game (especially in PSAC since East/West doesn't count for peanuts).

      Ask Ohio State... 4 straight losses all in conference after 15-0 start. The latest: NEBRASKA!

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    2. Agreed ... any conference game on the road is a dicey proposition. Some conference road wins are better than others, but it's always nice to get a road win in a rivalry game, even if it's against an 0-6 team like the 'Boro.

      Ask Jim -- The 1990 Gannon team that went to the Elite Eight had to fight back from a 55-40 deficit in the final eight minutes against a bad Mercyhurst team.

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    3. You can ask me about the final eight minutes of the game, but not the first 32. Thank you.

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  28. Jim: Did you get in that game, perhaps??? How was "Duke " at halftime??

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