Saturday, February 22, 2014

Best In The West ... And Tourney-Bound, Too?

Before gushing about Gannon's potentially NCAA-saving rally to stop Pitt-Johnstown today, 75-64 on the road, look at what happened around the Atlantic Region this week:

1. West Liberty: W vs. West Va. Wesleyan, W at #7 Glenville State
2. East Stroudsburg: W at Cheyney
3. Indiana (Pa.): W vs. #10 Mercyhurst, W vs. Edinboro
4. Charleston: W vs. Urbana, W vs. Notre Dame (Oh.)
5. Shepherd: W at UVa-Wise, W at Concord
6. Gannon: W vs. Clarion, W at Pitt-Johnstown
7. Glenville State: W at Wheeling Jesuit, L vs. #1 West Liberty
8. Fairmont State: W at Concord, L at UVa-Wise
9. Livingstone: W vs. St. Augustine, L at Winston-Salem
10. Mercyhurst: L at #3 IUP, Sunday at Clarion

Everyone in the top 6 had a perfect week, so don't expect the Knights to move up when the rankings are announced this Wednesday. But look at what happened to teams 7-10. Each of them took at hit, and with them having regular season games to play and conference tournaments looming, they will likely each lose at least one other game as well.

Does this mean that even if Gannon stumbles in its PSAC Quarterfinal game -- probably against Slippery Rock -- the Knights are still likely to get an at-large bid? I'm not saying Gannon is a shoe-in, but two teams behind them are going to have to make a deep postseason run to kick a team that was perfect in February and has won 12-of-13 out of the region's top 8.

The worst Gannon will be this year is 18-9. Glenville and Fairmont already have 9 in-region losses while Mercyhurst has 10. Livingstone is 14-6 in the region but they play in the CIAA which is way down this year and represented by only one team in the region's top 10. (The Mountain East has 5 ranked teams and the PSAC 4.) I'm sure the Gannon team isn't looking ahead like I just outlined, but it sure is fun for fans to talk about this subject and what could be for our Knights. Now back to the GU/UPJ game ...

I followed most of the game via live stats and had a pit in my stomach as UPJ rained down threes and extended their second-half lead to 8, 47-39, with just under 14 minutes to play. That's when I got home and and began to watch the Knights go on a decisive 28-8 tear via the live video stream. It took Gannon fewer than 4 minutes to tie the game, and once they seized the momentum, the Mountain Cats headed for the hills. If the Knights didn't hit their open jumper or layup, they were snagging the offensive rebound then going up strong. On defense, they clamped down on UPJ's three-point shooters -- they hit 11 on the afternoon -- and made them work clock before turning the ball over or forcing up a contested jumper.

They played like champions. The box score reflects that and so do the PSAC standings. Adam Blazek (40 minutes), A'Darius Porter (38) and C.J. Oldham (37) combined for 5 minutes of rest the entire game. Porter produced a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds while Blazek stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 8 boards, 3 assists, and 2 steals. And I haven't even mentioned Raphell Thomas-Edwards (16 and 8) or Girbran Smith  (15, 5, and a crazy-athletic tip-dunk) who led Gannon in scoring for the game. Despite limited playing time, Tee Talley contributed as well with 4 points in 5 minutes plus Matthew Dogan hit for 5 points.

Gannon fans have to be thrilled that this team isn't stumbling into the postseason. They are as hot -- and as dangerous -- as any team in Division II play right now.

39 comments:

  1. Congrats to the Golden Knights! PSAC West regular season champions!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Unbelievable. In the midst of the polar vortex last January, we resigned ourselves to the fact that the slim chance we have at an NCAA at-large bid was gone, unless everything went just about perfectly. Just the fact that the Knights had two games left against seemingly unbeatable IUP gave us very little confidence that the season would go well. And there was a trip to Mercyhurst and a home game vs. Slippery Rock (where the late November win felt like a fluke at the time) to top it off.

    And the season went pretty much perfectly. From the close wins to the fact that many top teams in the Atlantic Region have 7-10 losses (for whatever reason), we're in decent shape for the postseason. I'll leave it to others who have longer Gannon historical perspective that I, but I cannot remember a Gannon team that turned a season around like this one has.

    One women's note ... Does anyone know the extent of Jen Papich's injury? For those who were there .... did it look bad or did it look more like a precaution (we're up by a lot ... no reason to risk it any further)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Breathe easy on Jen. Twisted ankle, but talking to her after the game, she is HIGHLY confident that she will be able to practice by the middle of next week. Was more of a precaution than anything else.

      And mark me as one of those that thought at best the team was going to be 14-12 or so. Fact being that if they win another game or two in the PSAC Tourney, they should make the NCAA's for sure.

      Delete
  3. Chomp... Chomp... GLUP......Just me eating my post from Jan 9th. I guess they are better than a .500 team LOL,,,Smith added to the line up amd less turnovers have really made a difference. The team looks like they all finally understand the system. GO KNIGHTS !

    BEERMANJanuary 9, 2014 at 11:31 PM
    I'm not sure there are any "sure" wins or losses with this team. The kids play very hard, thats for sure!! BUT I still say they are a .500 team. Hopefully I'm wrong.
    Sorry, I don't want to upset anyone, but It's time for a change.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beerman: I applaud you for your post. No need to undress yourself here though, it's a blog in which all are free to state opinions.

    The important thing now is for all of us to throw their support around this group as they continue through the playoffs. I'm optimistic, because, as I've stated before, this team plays such good defense that they are in a position to win any game against anyone. And, that is exactly what they have done, especially since the early days of January.

    Strange, isn't it?..........Things began to really click after the disruption caused by the explosion down at the Audi. A major negative was turned into a positive somehow......and that is a credit to the entire coaching staff, team, and support personnel. Things could have gone downhill very fast. Instead, like posted above, we may very well have the hottest team in Division 2.

    Let's hope we see our biggest crowds of the season for the playoffs. And, that would include the pep band as well!!!!!!!!!!!

    This group certainly deserves it.


    ReplyDelete
  5. Don't hold your breath on the crowds, at least not from students anyway, spring break week.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hmmm.....if the Bayhawks can draw 6,450 fans like last evening, one would think and hope we can get 2,000 or more to a meaningful PSAC playoff game.

    No matter.

    This team is on a mission........

    ReplyDelete
  7. It was Knicks affiliate night, it's always packed for that, Erie fans come out in droves when they get something for free.

    ReplyDelete
  8. If Erie fans will turn out in droves when they get something for free, why doesn't Gannon try things like the Bayhawks do to entice people to come? Maybe a promotion or two here or there would bring in more people. The Bayhawks crowd is a totally different crowd then what you see at the Hammrmill, they are much younger, more enthusiastic, family oriented, and the black community supports them well. The Bayhawks make it fun to attend their games rather than just giving them basketball. Gannon should be taking lessons from them as to how to attract fans, and doing what they can to get some of those 6,000 plus fans to attend their games, but they don't.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Young people go to bayhawk games because you can drink. Families go to bayhawk games on family nights when hotdogs, popcorn and drinks are a dollar. I worked a concession stand for a season there as a fund raiser a few years ago, if there were no free things being handed out and no food discursive, there was no one there.



    ReplyDelete
  10. As far as mid season turn around, I would vote for the 89-90 season. Record at January 1st 6-3, By January - 4 players had left the team two were kicked off, two left after Christmas to transfer, Two more initially ineligible due to academic difficulties. Two additional walk ons were brought on so that there would be enough people to practice, Team manager was practicing due to a lack of bodies. A loss to the pedestrian Northern Kentucky team left not too much in the way of positive feel heading into the January game versus nationally ranked Pace. This all culminated in a trip to Springfield... And a 24-8 record

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good one. I remember the feeling of hopelessness among the GU faithful after losing to NKU in the Porreco Cup first round. Then the Knights needed a minor miracle to rally to send the consloation game against Millersville into overtime.

      Delete
  11. Playoff ticket info available through this URL:

    www.gannonsports.com/news/2014/2/14/MBB_0214144646.aspx

    ReplyDelete
  12. More good news from Gannon SID Dan Teliski. Will Blazek be the PSAC Player of the Year?

    Gannon's Blazek Named PSAC Western Division Men's Basketball Player of the Week
    www.gannonsports.com/news/2014/2/24/MBB_0224144532.aspx

    ReplyDelete
  13. My inbox is filling up. I just received this email from a Gannon fan who wants to stay anonymous:

    I have only written one letter before and that was to you. I think its funny that they compare the Bayhawks giving away freebies to some games and wondering why Gannon can't do something like that. I don't like the idea of Gannon giving away something free, when they already gave us a team that is 25 and 2, free. all you have to do is come and watch, and thats all the time. After all, it is about basketball.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If you make every game, "Watch a Basketball Game Night," then you'll get crowds just like Gannon is getting. If you want to improve attendance, then more has to be done.

    I've been to a couple of Bayhawks games and Otters games and am impressed at the way they cater to families. Not that he hated it, but I will have to admit that my seven-year old has enjoyed the Hawks and Otters games more than he did the Gannon games he attended. Having said that, a college basketball team has a different "business model," if you will, than a minor league pro team.

    What responsibility does Gannon have to cater to families? And if they did something (like a "Junior Knights Club"), do they have to do it for all sports? Aren't colleges supposed to get students to attend? Just getting 100 students to show up would do wonders for the atmosphere.

    But that's another conversation for another day. It's really fun that both teams have meaningful March games. And at home. Let's appreciate the PSAC ... remember when all GLIAC tourney games were at that empty arena in Michigan? Excited for the prospects of March hoops! We don't want this season to end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you been to a Gannon away game? Ive been to some where the number in attendance could be counted without hitting triple digits

      Delete
  15. Let's all keep in mind that over the past five years or so there has been a steady decline in the number of fans with the men's program. To think that they'll all return next Tuesday is wishful thinking, but hopefully some will come back and if we can get 1,500 plus that would be great. Remember that the students are on break next week.

    Otters and Bayhawk-type promotions are nice, but the true fans come for the product being put on the floor. One thing that Gannon and their promotions department could do better is advertise the game and possibly come up with some kind of combo package for the evening. For example, buy a ticket to the doubleheader and if you arrive prior to 5:30 you get a coupon for a hot dog and and soda. Or, have some type of 'meal deal' in the works for the people who work downtown and plan to make the start of the women's game. For $2 you get a hot dog, hot pretzel and a soda before 5:30. Unfortunately, this type of thinking doesn't seem to exist at Gannon (especially regarding concessions).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So just to clarify, you'd like for us to take a loss in concessions for the sake of getting a few more people to games. But youre right about one thing, a hot dog, pretzel and a drink for 2 bucks would bring them out in droves. Check out a bayhawks or seawolves game on buck night, few could even tell you who is actually playing but they are gonna eat their weight in tubular meat.

      Delete
    2. Gannon does not have a promotions department. Keep in mind it's still a small, private school with very limited funds. There are some good ideas being shared here, but I'm guessing the funds aren't there right now for these kinds of things.

      Delete
  16. Make sure you tell the minor sports who rely on concessions at hammermill events to help fund their seasons, in most cases to the point that they couldn't play a full season without what little they make on concessions, that they are going to have to find alternative opportunities. I know, how about a bake sale. Take a look at the rest of he PSAC, most would literally beg to have the support we have.

    Everyone talks about the glory years and how do we get back to filling the mill for every game. Guess what, we don't. That was a very different time. On a Saturday night you had for options, ABC, Cbs. NBC or the Gannon game. Our multimedia society has made leaving the house a less appealing option in man cases. I can turn on any one of a couple dozen games right now as I sit here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All I'm trying to say is that some type of attempt is better than none at all. Whatever the price try something different, and concessions would be a great place to start. The fans who do plan to attend next Tuesday and decide to stay downtown and catch a bite will go to McDonald's, Wendy's, Molly Brannigan's, etc. And, just how much revenue will that bring in for Gannon? It's up to Gannon to market their program better ... if they care about increasing attendance. And, the men and women's programs this year are worth attending.

      Delete
  17. Back in the day, deceased Gannon executive Kevin Quinn, who was also affiliated with what a lot of us know as "MYAA" (Millcreek Youth Athletic Association), would come to every Saturday MYAA basketball session and literally dump 20 or 30 Gannon general admission tickets on the score table for all of us to grab for the evening's Gannon game.

    (Note: NIGHT game). Not only gestures like the freebie tickets for kids would generate fan interest, but, night games would enhance attendance as well. (And, I know the "night vs "day" game subject is probably a league rule..)

    I think someone could do now what Mr. Quinn did back then at perhaps grade school games or other venues to at least jump start a new generation of potential fans. Imagine doing that at 5 or 10 places for both the girls and men's PSAC playoff games. It could help.

    Looking back, pretty cool thing to do on Mr. Quinn's part!!

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

    TV guys doing the Syracuse/Maryland game at Maryland just noted that this game is the Terps only sold out game all year. Interesting.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Night vs. Day game is not a league rule for games within the division. IUP, Clarion, and Cal all play their PSAC west Saturday games at night.

      Gannon had only one Saturday home game after January 1. And they could have played it at night, but chose to make it an afternoon game to accommodate the Pink Zone / Hall of Fame game.

      Delete
    2. Mercyhurst and Edinboro also chose to play their Saturday games against Gannon in the afternoon. They could have played it at night.

      Delete
  18. Gannon does nothing to promote it's games to the general public. But neither does Hurst or Boro. Maybe it's some double secret college code of fan prevention. Right now, maybe that's not such a bad thing. Do you really want to lose your playoff seat to some hot dog eating schmuck who's just there for the meal deal? Go Knights!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wait...What ? Dollar dog night I'M IN !!!!! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  20. The CIAA postseason tournament starts tomorrow. It's all at a neutral site at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, better known as home of the Charlotte Bobcats. Both the men's and women's tourneys are played at the same time. And the schedule is more than basketball. They really know how to throw an event. Check this out:

    http://theciaa.com/bballtournament/Official_Schedule_of_Events.pdf

    Those neutral court tournaments seem to result in lots of upsets (like 16-13 Bowie State stealing a spot last year). The good news for us is that, based on the rankings, it appears that the CIAA will be a one-bid conference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Golden, ask anyone in administration will tell you, the CIAA may put on a good tournament but everything else about the way that conference runs is a disaster.

      Delete
  21. BMOC: You made a GREAT call comparing this team with the 1989-90 club. That was my sophomore season, and sitting at 5-3 heading into the Porreco Consolation vs. powerhouse Millersville was a sickening feeling. I felt worse when no crowd showed up and we trailed by 3 in the waning seconds of regulation. Thank goodness for Mike Crawford's three just before the buzzer and big Mike Snyder dominating the paint in overtime.

    Another parallel between 1989-90 and 2013-14 is both teams made the switch that season from white to gold uniforms.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Clarion gave up 100 points and lost Monday night to Central Penn, who isn't even an NCAA or NAIA school (they're in the USCAA). Central Penn was coming off a loss at Valley Forge Christian College. Ron Righter's teams really know how to throw in the towel.

    http://www.clariongoldeneagles.com/news/2014/2/24/MBB_0224141236.aspx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love how the Clarion writeup goes out of its way to mention that two of Clarion's five wins came at the expense of Penn State-Beaver and Penn State-DuBois.

      By the way, in the Valley Forge / Central Penn game, VFCC won a thriller 113-112. Central Penn outrebounded VFCC 58-33, but committed 26 turnovers to Valley Forge's 13. Again, controlling turnovers >> outrebounding your opponent.

      I am saying that because it does seem like GU is turning the ball over a little more recently. Need to take better care of the ball if we want to make postseason run.

      And to make it even more embarrassing to Clarion -- They gave up 100 points at home to a team with this mascot: http://www.centralpenn.edu/media/78886/sir-will-senior-picture.jpg

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Misspoke- Golden don't bust on a guy in a funny floppy knight suit - we used to have a guy dressed as Gumby sliding down our stairs in Cass Wright's jersey

      Delete
  23. Technically we are among "Others Receiving Vote" but that's me being picayune. It's nice for the Knights to get recognition for their efforts:

    Gannon Men's Basketball Team Among Others Receiving Votes in Latest NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll
    http://www.gannonsports.com/news/2014/2/25/MBB_0225140555.aspx

    ReplyDelete
  24. New regional rankings. Men still #6. West Chester is up to #7. At least one team will get into the tourney with nine losses, and possibly an at-large with ten. No CIAA teams, meaning that the CIAA will likely get the eighth spot.

    1 West Liberty 21-2 20-2
    2 East Stroudsburg 23-1 23-1
    3 Indiana (Pa.) 22-3 22-3
    4 Charleston (W.V.) 17-7 17-7
    5 Shepherd 19-7 19-7
    6 Gannon 18-8 18-8
    7 West Chester 18-7 18-7
    8 Glenville State 16-9 16-9
    9 Fairmont State 15-9 15-9
    10 West Virginia Wesleyan 16-10 16-10

    ReplyDelete
  25. Women are now #1 in new regional rankings. It's all in our hands to host the regional. But it looks like we'll have to beat the #7 team at home, #4 team on a neutral floor, and #3 team on the road to stay there.

    1 Gannon 23-2 25-2
    2 Glenville 23-3 23-3
    3 Edinboro 20-5 20-5
    4 Bloomsburg 22-3 22-3
    5 Virginia State 20-1 21-1
    6 Fairmont State 15-8 15-8
    7 California (Pa.) 17-6 17-7
    8 Shaw 16-8 17-8
    9 Fayetteville State 17-6 17-6
    10 West Liberty 16-9 16-9

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  26. Charleston and shepherd both lost tonight.

    ReplyDelete