I was thinking this morning that while Gannon senior All-American Adam Blazek isn't conducting a farewell tour like Derek Jeter, he is playing his final game in some gymnasiums. His final shot at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center will be remembered for a long time to come. Moments after nearly losing his balance, the ball, and the game, Blazek drained a right-wing three, propelling Gannon to an improbable 46-44 win at Mercyhurst Saturday afternoon.
seen a lot of basketball during my nearly 45 years on the planet, but I
have never seen a contest that resembled today's game flow. The Lakers
did not score during the first 9:32 of the game and then were held to
just three points over the game's final 11:21. During the 20 minutes in
between, Mercyhurst scorched the nets for 41 points and had their arch
rivals all but buried, leading the Knights 41-25 with 10 minutes to
play. At that point the mood in the MAC was that it would take a small
miracle for the Knights to get to 40 total points, let alone with the
game. A fan sitting in front of me even said, "A 1-3 start -- that's real
GU benefited because of timely shooting from
Girbran Smith -- his only points of the game were consecutive
three-pointers with under two minutes to play -- and a tentative
approach by Mercyhurst. As Gannon inched closer and closer, I said
several times about the Lakers down the stretch, "Nobody wants to shoot
it." It was like the 'Hurst shifted from attack-and-score mode to
playing Hot Potato. Rhythm jumpers that found nothing but net were
replaced by line-drive threes that clanked off the rim (and a couple
times the bankboard) after hesitating to shoot.
Blazek missed his clutch three, there would have been plenty to gripe
about: a 1-3 start, falling behind by double-digits again, more
miserable first half shooting (21%), an airball on a free throw,
the lame atmosphere at the half-filled MAC. But skip all that for now.
Be thankful -- it's that time of year, right? -- that we are fortunate
to have witnessed one of the most memorable shots in Gannon basketball
Other thoughts on the GU/MU game:
* The only other game I could think of similar to this one
in multiple ways was Gannon's 69-64 win at Mercyhurst on Jan. 30, 1990,
my sophomore season. The favored Knights -- we advanced to the Elite 8
that season -- trailed a woeful but hot-shooting Hurst team by 13 with 8
minutes to play until a furious comeback sent the mostly maroon-wearing
crowd home happy. Bill Kalbaugh, who had been unjustly fired by
Mercyhurst after the previous season and was now a GU assistant, was the
subject of head coach Bob Dukiet's post-game victory speech. As our
team cheered then started to settle down, an exhilarated Dukiet shouted,
"Billy ... Billy ... for God to do that to them, they must have really
****ed you over!"
* I know league schedules are
difficult to piece together, but the PSAC should never, ever slate a
Gannon/Mercyhurst game while the schools are on break. There were no
cheerleaders, no dance teams, and no football teams in the stands to
root against their rival. I recall when some Gannon/Hurst games were
played at the Tullio Convention Center to accommodate the throng of
fans. Today's game would have fit inside the Mercyhurst Prep gymnasium.
* I know I mentioned this last year,
but it bears worth repeating. Do they not keep extra scoreboard light
bulbs around the MAC? Several bulbs were burnt out, giving the
impression that what goes on in that gym isn't all that important. Smith's
big three with 1:00 left looked on the East scoreboard like it was
scored with !:00 to go.
* Can the PSAC fine players for flopping? The Lakers did that several times and drew charges against the Knights today, but James Ewing's effort to try to draw a whistle on a Raphell Thomas-Edwards screen (you can watch it here at the 2:40 mark) with just over a minute to play is pretty blatant. If the baseline official would have been suckered by Ewing's pratfall, John Reilly might have thrown him into a snowbank.
see the screen grab on this page) shows the clock at 0.0 and the lights on behind the bankboard. Yes, it looks like there might be 0.9 on the clock, but it's actually that MAC light bulb problem I mentioned earlier.
* With UPJ, Edinboro, and
Mercyhurst losing today plus IUP having played only one league game,
Gannon is alone in first place with a 2-0 record. Who said starting PSAC
play early was a problem?
* My 9-year-old daughter
Evelyn attended the matinee contest, so I asked if she wanted to write
today's blog post instead of me. She typed something for me, and I
promised to include it here: "Little cute puppies!!!!!!!!!!!"