Before I played for Gannon, most of the time I spent in the Hammermill Center was growing up watching Metro League high school basketball doubleheaders. I was among the 2,800 fans who would see McDowell vs. Prep at 7:00 p.m. ... then I was one the 110 or so folks who would stick around to watch Whitey Kolakowski's East High Warriors scrap against Jim Marnella's Tech Centaurs at 8:30.
In addition to the size and
athleticism of the players, the giant difference I noticed between
college basketball and high school hoops at the Audi back then was the
shooting. In warmups, it seemed that Gannon and every opponent hit at
least 80% of their jumpers. Even the benchwarmers -- swish, swish, swish
-- with near-flawless form . The high school teams might make only 40%
of their uncontested perimeter shots. I recall seeing a Tech benchwarmer
nearly bust his nose when a pre-game shot attempt caromed hard off the bottom of the rim.
Gannon's current shooting reminds me of the Metro League teams. Clang, clang, clang went the trolley
-- and that's also the noise GU fans have heard most often when their
team launches a jump shot over the first half dozen games. During Friday's 47-45 loss to LeMoyne,
the Knights shot just 6-of-29 on three-pointers and just 31% for the
game. During a 10-minute stretch in the first half, they recorded just 2
points and nearly duplicated that with an 8-minute, 2-point drought in
the second period. Oftentimes that's a result of turnovers, but Gannon
committed just 13 vs. the Dolphins.
The Knights finished with their best shooting chart of the year in the 73-66 loss vs. Alderson-Broaddus
-- 21-of-44 from the field (47.7%), but that's a little deceiving. GU
started the game 8-for-9, which means they made only 37% of their field
goal attempts after the fast start.
This cause of this
problem multidimensional. For one, you have to make your open shots. GU
had plenty of open looks against zones this weekend, but misfired on
most of their attempts. Lack of aggressiveness is another issue. Too
many players don't look to attack the gaps when they have the ball. When
the Knights get the ball in the paint, they rarely have uncontested
layups or one-on-one post moves. Forwards shoot over 2 or 3 players, and
even the most muscle-bound basketball players can't overcome that.
Finally, it's amazing how this team can score when they are desperate --
trailing by double-digits. That sense of urgency has to be present on
the offensive end from the opening tip and not wane until the final
buzzer. The Knights need to push the ball and look to score quickly
every chance they get.
All of this is way easier said
then done, especially when you're busting your butt on the defensive end
like Gannon. But if this offense doesn't improve, we'll see more
streaks of 2 wins across 6 games.
Other observations on the weekend:
As I noted before this weekend's Gary Miller Classic, Gannon is one of the best defensive teams in the
country, allowing just 51.5 ppg through 4 games. But as
anyone over 12
years old knows, statistics can be misleading. For example, Gannon could
have played all super methodical opponents which would keep the scoring
down. That's not the case here. Following are scoring numbers on the
2014 Gannon opponents prior to the Alderson-Broaddus game (more on why
that game is an outlier in a moment). I will list in order the team's
season average in
games not against Gannon, the number of points they scored vs. Gannon,
and then the difference.
* Glenville State: 87.5 ppg, 57 vs. GU = 30.5 difference
* Charleston: 71.7 ppg, 54 vs. GU = 17.7 difference
* Slippery Rock: 69.0 ppg, 51 vs. GU = 18.0 difference
* Mercyhurst: 66.3 ppg, 44 vs. GU = 22.3 difference
* LeMoyne: 70.0 ppg, 47 vs. GU = 23.0 difference
The stat line for A-B reserve guard Paul Williamson was pathetic
entering the Gannon game: 4 games played, 23 total minutes, 0 points on
0-for-5 shooting, including 0-for-3 on three-pointers. I'm guessing he
didn't make Gannon's scouting report with that chart. So what did he do
vs. the Knights? Williamson, who sat out the past two seasons after
playing in 20 games for West Virginia University, blew up for 23 points
on 7-for-9 shooting from trey land. Incredible. The Battler fans around
me were shocked Williamson had that in him.
Gary Miller Classic schedule followed the same pattern as last year:
the Knights opened with LeMoyne Friday before tangling with
Alderson-Broaddus Saturday. For recaps of last year's games -- I forgot
how entertaining/frustrating they were -- click on the links below:
* LeMoyne 65, Gannon 62 -- "Operation Desperation"
* Gannon 55, Alderson-Broaddus 54 -- "Sticking To The Script"