Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Unofficial Scouting Report On Charleston

Thanks to the wonders of cable TV, I was able to watch Gannon's first-round NCAA opponent, the University of Charleston (WV), win the Mountain East championship vs. West Liberty, 63-60. The game was shown tape-delay Wednesday night on Fox Sports Pittsburgh.

I took notes during the game and then did a little research afterwards that I want to share with you. Keep in mind this scouting report is by no means a complete one. It's based on one game, and I did not conduct a thorough statistical analysis. If you want to check out UC's stats, just click here. No need for me to regurgitate them to you, right?

- Switch often between a relatively packed-in man and an extended 2-3 zone.
- They switched all game -- not just off a made basket or inbounds play.
- Dare you to shoot jumpers.
- West Liberty scored a season-low 60 points and shot just 37% from the field. I'm not sure if that was because of an off-shooting night or because of solid defense. UC certainly gives up very few layups. They let you settle for jumpers.
- They don't chase you. They make you work patiently for a good shot ... or settle for a long one or force yourself into a crowd and commit a turnover.

- They have two senior guards who are jets -- #1 Denzel Douglas and #5 Fred Simpson.
- Douglas's game reminds me a lot of Jabs Newby while Simpson -- both his style of play and his long beard -- remind me of NBA star James Harden. He's crazy fast, gets to the basket, but can also kill you on the perimeter.
- Douglas is a transfer from DI Idaho.
- They like to run. Seemed like their preference to score was (1) break, (2) jumpers, (3) slash, (4) post up.
- That could be a one-game anomaly however because West Liberty is very long, so going inside is tough to do.
- Gannon better get its butts back on defense or they will be playing from behind on the court and the scoreboard.
- There didn't seem to be one star on the team. Simpson carried them in the second half, but the guy averages only 9 ppg. He apparently got very little playing time early in the season. I'm guessing he and Girbran Smith will have something to talk about.
- PG #3 Tino diTrapano hardly looked to score vs. West Liberty (4 FGA) but then I look at the season stats and he averages 11.1 ppg.
- Big man #24 Aleksander Kesic isn't fancy, but he's 6-8, can bang and can score (14.8 ppg), helping him earn second team all-Mountain East honors. He's second on the team in scoring but they didn't run their offense through him vs. WLU.
- Same for F #23 Xavier Humphrey. He averages 16.6 ppg, but everything doesn't focus on him. He was first team all-Mountain East.
- Kesic is a transfer from DI Iona while Humphrey is from DI Marshall.
- The guys who play are well-balanced; you can't leave anyone alone.

- Douglas, Kesic, Humphrey, and diTrapano each played 35+ minutes in the championship vs. WLU. There were no UC second half subs until 6 minutes left in the game. Where have we seen that before?
- UC's starting front line is 6-8 (Kesic), 6-6 (Humphrey) and 6-6 (low-scoring Denio Chirindja) and they go smaller when the 6-4 Simpson is in the game. Curious to see how Gannon will match up at the small forward. Do you put C.J. Oldham on Humphrey then switch him to Simpson when he enters the game?

- Here's the complete UC roster if you want to check it out.

I distinctly recall three things from when Gannon and Charleston played in the 1987 Gary Miller Classic finals. First, Gannon gave up a ton of points and lost, 100-84. Every Gannon run was answered by UC. Second, Gannon's new home uniforms weren't ready for the game and because UC's colors are maroon and gold (and maybe because they only brought maroon with them?) Gannon had to slap together temporary uniforms made at the Erie Sports Store. GU wore their maroon shorts but the tank tops were white mesh with cherry red letters and numbers, if I'm remembering that correctly.

Third, back in that time the team that came out second for pre-game warmups then selected which hoop they were going to shoot on -- that was the old rule I believe. Tom Chapman always wanted to come out second so he could kick the team off the hoop if necessary and show them who's boss. Charleston's coach felt the same way, and the two teams stayed in the tunnel for maybe 15 minutes until Gannon finally cried "uncle" and took the floor. I think the teams even sent out 1 or 2 players a couple times to try to fake the other into taking the floor.

Am I recalling the details of that game correctly? There are many Gannon games that have totally slipped my memory, but that version of the Charleston/Gannon game has stuck for some strange reason.

First-year UC coach Dwaine Osborne didn't get the job until August 2013 because former Golden Eagle coach Mark Downey left for Division II West Alabama in mid-July. When the Fox Sports announcers said Osborne came from Texas-Periman Basin, my ears perked up. Faithful Gannon Hoops followers will recall that Dwayne Soders -- who allegedly had a side rap career as Mr. Walk Like Jordan and announced on social media he committed to Gannon in 2010 -- never signed at Gannon eventually surfaced at Periman Basin. I wondered if Osborne had been there long enough to coach Soders. Sure enough, in the fifth paragraph of Osborne's Charleston bio, it mentions at UTPB he coached all-conference honoree Dwayne Soders.

I think that officially brings the most unofficial Gannon off-court saga -- and this unofficial scouting report -- full circle.


  1. Saw the same game on ROOT. Agree with Jim that Douglas and Simpson are players, but he forgot to mention they are both strong with the ball, particularly when taking it to the hoop and/ or shooting pull-up jumpers. They both are also good at creating their own shot late in the shot clock. Defensively, UC's sagging man and zone D's literally dare you to shoot quick jumpers. Even WLU had trouble getting their shooters in rhythm. Since WLU rarely if ever tried anything resembling a post-up game, hard to say how successful GU will be should they power the ball into the low block and looking to score. The Knights' success or lack thereof in doing that could be crucial.

    From what I saw, GU may have matchup problems with the players Jim mentioned-Douglas, Simpson, and Humphries. Although Humphries looked more like a stand still shooter and a player that finishes strong on the break (easier to guard), Douglas and Simpson will both be tough to stop. Also impressed with UC's discipline in not getting drawn into a shootout with WLU. After breaking the Hilltopper press (they may have only had 1 turnover in doing so) UC settled into their halfcourt offense and got their share of good shots instead of being tempted to throw up the first available long jumper, which is what WLU wants you to do, betting that they'll be able to outgun you over the course of a game.

    UC is going to be a major challenge for GU. It may all hinge on what the Knights will be able to do offensively in the post.

  2. I think GU played Charleston in one of the holiday tournaments during Javar Cheetham's 2 years.

    They came in ranked #4 in the country with an all-American point guard. If my foggy memory serve me correctly, their PG had a fantastic throw down dunk, but Javar out played him and GU won a close contest.

    Am I remember this correctly? Anyone else?

  3. How long did this report take you to write? Very detailed.

    1. you may be new to the Blog, but all of Jim's posts are thoroughly detailed and well-written. That's why we all love this blog so much; he puts a lot of thought, research and creativity in his posts. If you are new, welcome and enjoy!

  4. Women are live at 12Noon free streaming video.

    (or go to Gannon page and click live video.. much easier haha)

  5. Gannon women win vs. Shaw, 76-70. Great job Lady Knights!

  6. Edinboro hangs on to win 64-62. Charleston had a possession to tie at the end. Gannon / Boro IV at 5 p.m. in a sort-of Saturday night doubleheader with the Gannon men. Let's hope for a different result from the first three.

    1. I'm no expert on the women's team, but I would think they have to try an unorthodox defense to slow down the Scots -- box-and-1 on Majewski, triangle-and-2, faceguarding Majewski, etc. They need to get in Edinboro's head and make them uncomfortable from the get-go. Make them think, "Uh-oh. This game is different."

  7. #1 Glenville pulled away late to beat the #8 West Liberty women, 82-70. GSC was trailing by 1 with 8 1/2 minutes to play.

  8. Since the women's Elite 8 is in Erie, it's worth it to follow the entire tournament ...

    One huge upset just occurred in the southeast region, #8 Armstrong from Savannah, GA upset #1 and host Lenior-Rhyne (NC), 64-56 and was in control the whole way.

    Another upset occurred in the Central regional where #7 Concordia St-Paul (MN) defeated host #2 and host Harding (Arkansas). Not sure why they hosted and not #1 seed Emporia State, who should be familiar to Gannon fans.

    Rare to see two host teams go down in the first round.

    ALso, LIU-Post (aka CW Post) beat Assumption 60-59 on a shot at the buzzer. Both LIU-Post and Assumption played in the Porreco Cup (and I think may have both played GU in the 1986 Porreco Cup.

  9. What I like..
    - Gannon pulled out a gritty win
    - edinboro struggled and really had to fight hard to barely escape with the W
    - announcers for edinboro game were some of the best announcers not named Sean Steve or Jim that I've heard in a while
    What I don't like...
    - neither gu nor Boro played anywhere near their potential
    - gu made shaw look like UCONN at times
    - the announcers for gu game had to have been Shaw's announcers because everything was positive about Shaw and negative about gu
    - Blake really struggled to get in a groove (id say kudos to Shaw but she was wide open on a few she missed)
    - Gannon threw the ball to their invisible 6th player for nearly half their turnovers

    What I really don't like
    - Gannon plays Boro... Again... Already 0-3 vs them... After a poor showing vs Shaw... And edinboro won their game