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.
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.
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