Gannon announced its 2014-15 men's basketball schedule today, and what's most noteworthy is what is not on the list of games. For the first time in 40 seasons, GU will not host a tournament near the Christmas holiday. Eliminating the Porreco Cup gives the Knights more flexibility in their schedule and allows them to open their season against non-PSAC foes. As I wrote in this blog post last year, "I don't see who it's serving keeping the Porreco Cup in December. With home tournaments in late November and December, the Knights force themselves to play league games right off the bat, so it doesn't benefit the players or coaches." Instead of moving up the cup to open the season, Gannon eliminated the home tournament altogether and simply renamed the home contest vs. Mercyhurst "The Porreco Game."
I won't get into too much detail in this post about the schedule -- because Gannon SID Dan Teliski's analysis in the press release is superb -- but here are 5 parts of the schedule that have me fired up already:
1. Nov. 8 -- Gannon at Siena (exhibition). The game won't count in the standings, but I'm always thrilled when Gannon gets a shot at a Division I foe. Siena won 20 games a year ago but also lost 18, so this will be a good test for the Knights. I hope it will be more like when they played Dayton close in 2009 (losing by 8) and not the 69-44 drubbing Pitt put on them 10 years ago.
2. Nov. 14-15 -- PSAC/MEC Challenge at Glenville State. I'm actually more nervous than excited for the season-opening games against Mountain East opponents Glenville and Charleston, both who qualified for the NCAAs last season. The pessimist in me says Gannon could be eliminated from hosting the regional tournament just 26 hours into the season. The optimist in me says the Knights could establish themselves as an Atlantic Region heavyweight with a strong showing at this event.
3. Nov. 28 vs. Le Moyne (Gary Miller Classic) and Feb. 18 at Le Moyne. A home-and-home with a former Mideast Collegiate Conference rival? That's tremendous! If Gannon hadn't canned the Porreco Cup, the second game vs. the Dolphins and the Dec. 13 home game vs. Shepherd wouldn't have been possible. Can we figure out a way for both GU and LC to honor their 1987-88 teams during halftime of those games? Le Moyne won the MCC tourney at Gannon that year and returned to the Hammermill the following weekend where Gannon captured the NCAA East Regional title.
4. March 25-28 -- NCAA Elite 8 at Evansville, Ind. When Tom Chapman coached Gannon, he made sure the Elite 8 was always listed on the Gannon schedule. I like the expectation it sets for the program. I'm not reserving a hotel room in Evansville yet, but I'm excited to know Gannon has plans to be there.
5. There are no dregs on the schedule. Every game this season will be against a Division II school. No Penn State-Allegheny or Penn State-DuBois (Edinboro opponents next season) or any other non-conference cupcakes. Gannon's independent schedule includes 2014 NCAA entrants Glenville, Charleston, and Le Moyne, plus 20-game winner Shepherd (last year's Porreco Cup champ), and 24-5 Alderson-Broaddus. If GU makes the NCAAs this year, they will have earned it for sure.