Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Gannon Season, New Gannon Hoops Features

You might have noticed a new-look Gannon Hoops website, and I certainly hope you like it. The only negative feedback I received was from "Gary M." who wanted the color scheme changed to blue and green instead. No can do, sir. We bleed maroon and gold.

Not only has the look changed, but we've added some new features that I hope will enhance your Golden Knight experience this season. The features are all located on the right hand side of the page, and I'll run them down for you here:
  • Search This Blog: If there's a past post or blast-from-the-past name you want to look for, just enter your data in the open field, hit the "Search" button, and the results will show up at the top of the page. 
  • Popular Posts: This lists the most popular recent posts in case you're curious what your fellow Golden Knight fans are reading. I would have listed the all-time most popular posts here, but I don't expect in the near future we'll surpass the 2,641 views of the "Cleve Will Leave" post from April 29, 2013.
  • Total Pageviews: Thanks to your support, as of today the Gannon Hoops site has received nearly 400,000 page views. When I first started this blog, I thought the only readers might be Rick "Stats" Klapthor, Steve Piotrowicz's dad, and my family, but the Gannon community has certainly shown great interest in their Knights. Thank you again!
  • Related Links: This is my favorite new addition. You'll now be one click away from the official Gannon men's basketball website, the Gannon men's basketball Twitter feed, the PSAC men's basketball web page, a popular Atlantic Region basketball message board, the Division II men's basketball web page, and the NCAA Division II Regional Rankings. That should give you the entire information landscape of Gannon basketball. If you have any other sites to suggest adding here, please let me know. (And, no Gary M., we won't link to the Mercyhurst men's basketball page from here, so don't even bother asking.)
I haven't paid as much attention to the Gannon basketball Twitter feed as I should have, but I'm glad I found this video on there recently. It's appropriately titled "2014-2015 Gannon Basketball Hype" and professionally executes on showing pretty much every dunk and big basket from last season. You'll want to watch it again and again -- I already have. I'd like to give a high five to whoever is behind A Level 5 Movement, producer of the video.

Updated 10/10/14: Good to see the Gannon women's basketball team getting involved in our community. Last night they spent time with the girls basketball team at Blessed Sacrament School on Erie's west side. I like winning but like way more good people. The Lady Knights get check marks in both columns.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Knight: Isaiah Eisendorf fr. F 6-5 215

I was talking with a longtime Gannon fan this week, and we both voiced optimism about the upcoming season. Our only concern is how the incoming players will fit. Will they adjust to John Reilly's defense-and-rebounding-or-else approach? Do they have the work ethic necessary to compete on the Division II level? Will they be team players -- do they have the right attitude to fit with Blazek, Porter, Thomas-Edwards and company?

After researching Isaiah Esiendorf, I have zero reservations about him fitting in. I think this excerpt from a Feb. 18 Washington Post article reveals why Reilly recruited him: 

"Late in the first quarter, Eisendorf drew the defense from below the basket and found Aaron Robinson with a perfect feed to set up an easy layup. He jumped, hollered and clapped ferociously, a relative emotional explosion inspired by a perfectly executed team-first moment. … Eisendorf’s rebounds, disciplined defense and unabating hustle — along with a team-high 19 points — sparked Springbrook) to its ninth straight win. 

“He’s our glue,” Springbrook Coach Tom Crowell said. “He brings energy every game, leading rebounder every game, and he’s been scoring a lot lately . . . Isaiah is a beast.”

Eisendorf helped set up many of the Blue Devils’ buckets he didn’t score himself, whether by going a step or two more in pursuit of a loose ball, enticing an offensive rebound away from a Knight, or making an extra pass. As with his first-quarter assist, he reacted most vehemently to those less glamorous plays — hardly shifting his facial expression when he beat the third-quarter buzzer, but nearly clapping his hand off when a teammate finished after he made a tough save-to-outlet pass.

“Honestly, I get most pumped up when we score a tough basket,” Eisendorf said. “That’s all that matters to me. I try to do the things that aren’t getting done — if we need rebounds, I try to get rebounds. If it’s defense, I’ll try to step up on defense. I just try to do whatever we need."

I don't even need to see tape to know if this kid is Reilly's (and my) kind of player. I'd have offered him a scholarship just on attitude alone!

Before I get to Eisendorf's basketball abilities, I have to spend a paragraph on his stepfather, Norman Chad. You might recognize Chad as ESPN's top poker commentator, a guest host on Pardon The Interruption, or for his syndicated sports column that appears in the Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and a dozen other newspapers. To get a sample of his writing talent, check out this column Chad penned about Eisendorf and his high school basketball team. The guy can make words dance. I have to admit I'm concerned Chad will attend a Gannon game this year, write about it, and then all the Gannon Hoops followers will realize what a hack I am. So if you see this man taking notes during a Golden Knight game, I implore you to steal his pen. Thank you.

Here's more information on Eisendorf, some of it courtesy of the Gannon Sports Information Department:
* Let's go to the videotape first. Here's his high school highlight tape from YouTube. You have to love a tape that includes both dunks and deflections.
* Watching him on film, he reminds me a lot of former Knight Alphonso Scandrett (2008-10), a reserve forward on that 30-4 Gannon team that advanced to the Elite 8 in 2009. Scandrett wasn't a giant or a giant scorer, but he was always around the ball, diving on the floor, and making sound decisions. Guys like that help make a bunch of players into a team.
* Here's how the DMVelite prospect report describes Eisendorf's skills: "Eisendorf is strong and athletic with toughness that is contagious. Volume rebounder and is always at the rim rebounding and defending. Has some perimeter skills and can create for other. Must work on overall skill as well as shooting to transition to the wing. Would benefit from spending a year or two at a quality prep or juco, will make him a low D1 prospect."
* Eisendorf also posted a series of individual workout tapes on YouTube.
* Was a standout both on and off the court at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Md.
* An honor roll member, he received the Student-Athlete Award, Versatility Achievement Award, and African American Achievement Award.
* His senior year he averaged 12.5 ppg, earning honors as team MVP, all-county second team, and All-Met honorable mention.
* According to this stat sheet from his senior year, 110 of his 112 field goals were two-pointers, and he made 65.7% of his foul shots.
* Springbrook won regionals and advanced to the state semifinals.
* Posted a season high 25 points and 15 rebounds in a 74-38 drubbing of Churchill.
* Scored 20 or more points in four games.
* Dominated in a win over Wheaton, tallying 19 points and 15 boards.
* According to this Baltimore Sun article, he totalled 11 points and 20 rebounds in Springbrook's Class 4A North Regional semifinal victory over a despondent Dulaney team.
* Scored 14 points in Springbrook's state semifinal loss to Henry A. Wise HS.
* His steal and nearly full court pass made the Washington Post's top plays in this video.
* If I was related to Eisendorf, I'd pay the Gannon Hoops blogger a ton of money to cover small college basketball for ESPN I would buy this sweet Getty Images photo of Isaiah's one-handed floater in the lane and turn it into a poster. But since I'm not a relative, I'll just link to the photo here.
* Played both basketball and football at Springbrook.
* This web page from May 14 lists him as a football recruit for the University of San Diego. Eisendorf is listed as a freshman tight end for the Toreros. And here's a pic of him signing his letter of intent to play football at USD. I'm not sure what happened, but this gives me confidence he'll be able to bang with other bigs in the PSAC.
* According to this article, he appeared in an adidas TV commercial, but I couldn't find it on YouTube despite watching a bunch of clips. So let's just pretend I came across the commercial and that Eisendorf is NBA star Damian Lillard.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Knights Announce Recruits, Returnees

Gannon announced its recruits and returnees for the 2014-15 season, and the good news is there aren't any giant surprises. First let's look at the list of recruits (with links to Gannon Hoops profiles on each player):
* Tony Boykins jr. G 6-3 190
* Jean Yves Toupane jr. F 6-7 195
* Dan Kaigler fr. F 6-6 195
* Adam Holm-Weber fr. PG 6-1 180
* Isaiah Eisendorf fr. F 6-5 215

The only real surprise out of that bunch is that Marc Fabricius, a 6-foot-7 freshman who was Holm-Weber's teammate in Denmark by way of Alexander Basketball Academy (Md.), was not on Gannon's official list. Fabricius was announced by ABA as a Golden Knight recruit before Holm-Weber's commitment was made public. I'll try to find out more of what happened with Fabricius, but right now Google isn't my friend. The first link in the search for "Marc Fabricius basketball" yields a result that says, "Marc Fabricius has accepted a basketball scholarship from Gannon University for the 2014-15 academic year."

I had not profiled Eisendorf, but I had been told a freshman forward from the D.C. area had committed to the Knights. The name I was told was "Eisenberg," and I knew this guy wasn't going to be a Golden Knight. When I build Eisendorf's profile, expect this YouTube highlight video to be part of his Gannon Hoops bio.

Six returning lettermen plus three redshirts will also make up  the Gannon roster this year: seniors Adam Blazek, Girbran Smith, Raphell Thomas-Edwards, and A'Darius Porter were all starters for last year's 20-10 club. They'll be joined by redshirt senior Rich Austin (who sat out last year after transferring from Lake Erie College), junior walk-on Cory Bailey, sophomore Matthew Dogan, and redshirt freshmen Brandon Domenick and Marcus Jones.

Only two underclassmen who were on last year's roster at the end of the season will not suit up for Gannon: Aleksandar Malinic and Nolan Woodward. I'm not sure of Malinic's whereabouts, but Malinic is on the roster at Kankakee (Ill.) Community College (thanks Gannon Hoops follower Corey for the tip) while Woodward is rumored to have transferred to American International College (Mass.)

Now the questions to ask are who will redshirt and who will be part of the rotation. I'm not even going to try to predict the redshirts; last year the Knights elected to redshirt a senior transfer (Austin) which I didn't see coming at all.

For the rotation, you'd have to assume Blazek, Smith, Thomas-Edwards, and Porter will log the majority of minutes based on history. I would also guess that the third big to rotate in with RTE and Porter would be Austin. Dogan should see playing time at the small forward -- he started at the three at the beginning of last season and was GU's leading scorer in the season finale vs. East Stroudsburg -- but I would guess one of the newcomers will also get some minutes here. A third guard will be added to the mix, but they should not expect to see lots of playing time. In the playoffs last year, Smith averaged about 30 minutes of action per game while Blazek played whenever the clock was running (e.g. 50 minutes vs. Slippery Rock, 45 minutes vs. West Chester in PSAC OT games).

Gannon fans can't be disappointed with this roster. It's balanced in terms of bigs vs. guards and upperclassmen vs. freshmen/sophomores. Go Knights!

Updated 9/7/14: For the first time in 350 posts and five years, I updated the look of the Gannon Hoops website. I wanted it to look all nice and spiffy when CBS does its research on Gannon for the Elite 8 in March. Let me know what you think.