Too many times in recent years I've left the Mercyhurst Athletic Center lamenting one that got away. The Knights have a history of letting winnable games slip past them at the Hurst. Saturday it was Laker fans who were heartbroken when walking through the snowy parking lot after Gannon's 56-54 comeback victory.
game was a typical Gannon/Mercyhurst slog in the 50s, but some numbers
on the stat sheet were surprising. The Knights managed only one
offensive rebound all game, but that wasn't the biggest shock to me.
Jonathan Ouegnin, Mercyhurst's leading scorer at 10.1 ppg, did not score
and attempted only one field goal (a desperation three as the shot
clock expired) in 33 minutes of action. C.J. Oldham followed Ouegnin
everywhere he went. In 66 minutes vs. the Knights this year, Ouegnin was just 1-of-6 from the field.
a slow, mistake-prone start to his season, Raphell Thomas-Edwards is
proving to be a handful inside. He torched the Lakers with a 7-for-9
shooting chart on his way to a game-high 17 points, 15 tallies coming in
the second half. GU scored only 21 points in the first stanza but 35
points in the second, and Thomas-Edwards was a big reason for that. He's
strong enough to muscle to the basket between the blocks, agile enough
to move around defenders, and skilled enough to put the ball on the
floor or even hit a standstill three. Most Division II players are one-
or two-dimensional; RTE is not one of them.
Other observations about the game:
* The Knights are one of just three teams to have already clinched a PSAC playoff berth. If you don't believe me, check the PSAC standings. Nationally-ranked East Stroudsburg and IUP are the other qualifiers.
Gannon won Saturday despite allowing 6 timely threes and fouling
Mercyhurst shooters on 2 three-point field goal attempts. I really
expected on the game's final possession that the trend would continue
and the Lakers would drain a three at the buzzer to break my heart. But
Gannon's help defense swarmed the paint and stifled the Hurst's final
attempt. GU's help defense was a menace all afternoon.
I know Gannon's facilities are far from perfect, but Mercyhurst's were
borderline embarrassing Saturday. First, why was it 55 degrees in the
men's room but 85 degrees in the gymnasium? I was in Puerto Rico last
week, and it wasn't that stifling near the equator. And is there a
nationwide shortage of orange and red scoreboard light bulbs? Or is the
scoreboard repairman on strike? Two of the scoreboards were often
unreadable during the game. It was difficult to tell the 2s, 5s, and 8s
* I got a kick out of reading the quote from
Laker women's coach Deanna Richard in the paper today after her team was
overwhelmed by Gannon, 70-56. "Our girls have to handle adversity a lot
better. We get a foul called against us, or we make a turnover, and we
seem like we can't recover," she was quoted as saying. I found it
amusing these words are attributed to the same person I saw Saturday
slamming her palms on the scorer's table and essentially slapping
herself in the head when calls didn't go her way. And she behaved
similarly at the Hammermill earlier this season.
Many on this site -- me included -- have moaned about the low attendance
at several games this season. It was enjoyable to be crammed in among
1,300 of my friends at the MAC to watch a nip-and-tuck rivalry game.
Let's hope a similar crowd turns on Wednesday vs. Edinboro, who rallied past Cal Saturday night.
UPDATED 2/9/14 10:57 PM: I can't believe I didn't mention Adam Blazek in my entry about the Mercyhurst game. Maybe this will make up for it. My daughter and I were watching Washington upset Stanford today in women's hoops, and wow did UW point guard Kelsey Plum remind me of Blazek. Both are left handed, have great range, a quick release, and hesitation moves galore. Check out the highlights from the game and Plum's high school highlight tape and tell me you don't think she might be Blazek's long lost sister.
UPDATED 2/10/14: Raphell Thomas-Edwards has been named PSAC West player of the week, averaging 18.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg during a 2-0 week. With this honor, can we start calling him "RTE" like football fans call Robert Griffin III "RG3"?