Friday, October 31, 2014

Rest In Peace Sean Hazel

I just learned today that former Golden Knight Sean Hazel passed away in September apparently due to complications from diabetes and cancer. Hazel was a key player on the 1987-88 Gannon team that advanced to the Division II Elite 8, falling at Troy (Ala.) in the quarterfinals.

Here's what I wrote on this blog about Hazel in 2011 when reminiscing about the best slashers in Gannon history: Hazel played just one year, scoring 126 points, but GU fans didn't get to see him full-speed due to an injury. I saw him 100% healthy during summer games at the Gannon Rec Center. He would single-handledly destroy the 1989-90 team that went to Springfield. He had an NBA body and explosiveness no one could match.

This memory I have is over 25 years old, but it's still vivid in my mind. We're playing shirts vs. skins at the Rec Center, and I jump to grab a defensive rebound. I thought it was going to fall into my hands until Hazel comes out of nowhere, snatches the ball with two hands, and thunder-slams it through the basket to finish the game. He made contact with me, but you couldn't call it "over the back" because he was up so high his abdomen hit me on the left side of my face.

Rest in peace Sean Hazel.

Friday, October 10, 2014

New Knight: Jon Dogbo jr. G 6-4 200

Every Gannon recruit has some level of an interesting back story, and Jon Dogbo's might be the best. I don't know every detail about him, but the basics are quite fascinating:
1. He was born in France.
2. He played scholastically at Redemption Christian Academy in Troy, N.Y., which is no ordinary high school. It appears the team plays a national schedule -- games next year are scheduled for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Utah, Nevada, Connecticut, Kansas, New Hampshire, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ohio, and The Bahamas -- and its alums include NBAers Lamar Odom and Mike James, plus several Division I stars.
3. He played junior college ball at Miles Community College in Miles City, MT. I don't want to say MCC is nothing like France, but they do have an intercollegiate rodeo team, both men's and women's. And their annual youth basketball tournament is called the Cowtown Classic. No place in France is called "cowtown."
4. According to this web site, Dogbo originally committed to Division I Delaware State.

Time will tell how good a player he'll be on the Division II level, but we know for sure he'll have stories to tell. Here's more info I unearthed on Dogbo:

* Was third team NJCAA Division I all-Region IX as a sophomore at Miles last season.
* Was among the Pioneer team leaders in points (15.7 ppg), rebounds (6.9 rpg), and minutes (28 mpg).
* Connected on 43% of his field goals, including 36% on three-pointers. Made 70% of his free throws.
* Miles skidded down the stretch and posted a 14-17 record for the 2013-14 season.
* Led MCC with 30 points in an overtime win vs. Northwest College (WY).
* Helped Miles to a 10-point home win over Western Wyoming, tallying 20 points and 5 rebounds. This web page also includes a good head-and-shoulders photo of Dogbo.
* Hit for 20 points in a 98-91 loss at Sheridan College (WY).
* Recorded 16 points and 8 rebounds in a home loss to Little Big Horn College (MT).
* Led the club with 19 points (including a trio of three-pointers) and 9 rebounds in a 74-60 loss vs. Western Wyoming College.
* In a 68-55 home loss to NJCAA #19 Gillette (WY) College, he led the way with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Side notes: Gillette's nickname is the Pronghorns and they of course have an intercollegiate rodeo team.
* Tired of those 1- or 2-line game summaries? Then sit back and watch some video of Dogbo in action at MCC. I know jucos aren't traditionally the bastion of defensive intensity, so a player's offensive game can look better here than it will vs. PSAC foes, but there's no denying that Dogbo can get to the rim and rattle the bankboard. Check out the consecutive dunks to start this highlight tape; the jam at the 45-second mark is most impressive.
* From what I watched, I really like his overall game. There are many instances of him (1) finishing on the break, (2) beating his man off the dribble in the half court game, (3) sticking pull-up and step-back jumpers, and (4) drilling three-pointers. Are there any other ways to score? Seems like he can fill it up from all angles.
* The way he blows by defenders and finishes in an off-balance, herky-jerky fashion reminds me of former Gannon star Darryl Freeman, who led the Knights to the Elite 8 in 1990 (and should be in the Gannon Athletics Hall of Fame if you ask me). The angles Freeman took to the basket were unpredictable and difficult to defend.
* Dogbo also has a Eurostep in his game, which kind of figures because he's from France. I don't think we've seen much of that at the Hammermill Center.
* Seems like when he has an open three, he'll take it. And when he sees an open lane, he attacks it. He's an aggressive offensive player for sure.
* I think the highlight of this video from his sophomore year is his three-point barrage on his way to a 30-point game. I counted 5 threes in the first half.
* OK -- his strong three-point play at the 5:01 mark of the video is pretty good, too. The entire Miles bench stood up, and I almost jumped out of my chair when I saw him finish while getting clobbered.
* I don't know if he did this on his own or had some help, but to insert the NBA "Top 10" graphics between your dunks and label the video "Top 10 Junior College Dunks" is genius. And I agree with whoever assembled this video that dunk #1 is the best of the bunch.
* I could not find any data on Dogbo at Redemption Christian, but he posted this video of himself in action from the 2011-12 season. There are some pretty interesting gymnasiums on that tape.The court at the 3:00 mark looks like it's the New York Knicks practice floor ... but later in the tape (about 3:45), Dogbo is playing on the adjacent court which has the Celtics logo in the middle and what appears to be faux parquet.

ALSO: The Golden Knights official team photo and roster are now live on the GannonSports.com website. It's evidence that John Reilly has made a concerted effort to recruit a bunch of forwards in the 6-foot-6 range. The back line of players are all essentially the same height.