Friday, November 14, 2014

Woe And Two

Gannon has suffered consecutive losses to open the season, falling to Mountain East opponents Glenville State (57-51) and Charleston (54-52). I knew this could happen -- I wrote back in August that Gannon could be eliminated from hosting the Atlantic Region tournament with two losses 26 hours into the season. But I think it's the way Gannon lost that has me most disappointed. The statistics so far paint a dismal picture in several categories:
  • Scoring: Gannon is averaging just 51.5 ppg
  • Turnovers: The low scoring is partly due to 36 turnovers in two games -- that's nearly a TO every two minutes
  • Deep Deficits: The Knights fell behind Friday by 24 then Saturday by 15
  • Slow Starts: Gannon is being outscored in the first half 72-40
  • Chronic Catch-up: Over the two contests, Gannon led for only 24 seconds of game action
Watching via video feed from Glenville State, I noticed two major mistakes that occurred consistently. On offense, the ball was not swung quickly from side-to-side on several possessions. Players would slowly dribble the ball or hold it, hoping for a post player to get open. The key to John Reilly's offense (and pretty much any offense) is to get the defense off-balance by moving the ball quickly. Slow ball movement led to turnovers and contested shots.

Defensively, the Knights frequently overcommitted to the ballhandler. When a player drives the lane, their defender is supposed to stay in front. If that doesn't happen, a teammate needs to slide over to help. I saw several times that a defensive helper would race 15-20 feet away from their man to help on the ball too early, creating an easy assist opportunity and open shot for the opponent.

The bright side is all the errors mentioned above are fixable, so there's no reason to panic. It's not like Gannon is low on talent or the players aren't giving an effort. On Saturday, the iron man five -- Blazek, Smith, Thomas-Edwards, Porter, and Toupane -- played all but three minutes of the second half, and they fought their tails off to the end. They erased big second-half deficits both games, and had their been just one more second on the clock vs. Charleston, Porter's last-gasp tip-in would have sent the game into overtime.

The last time Gannon started its season 0-2 was 2009-10 when home losses to Urbana and Lake Erie set the Knights on course for a miserable 13-15 campaign. That was a difficult season for sure, but things could be much worse. Clarion lost last night, 69-68, to Georgian Court (NJ) -- who? -- at home. It's only the third win in GCU history and first ever on the road after last year's inaugural 2-24 season. Cal took a bad hit as well, falling to Urbana, 86-85, at Indiana (Pa.) That snapped UU's 33-game losing streak, the longest in the nation entering this season after an 0-27 debacle in 2013-14. Urbana had lost to IUP by 37 the night before, so it's not like Cal ran into a suddenly competitive team. Finally there's Penn State-New Kensington who started its season getting thrashed 118-40 at Pitt-Johnstown. Gannon hasn't given up 118 points across two games and their scoring margin is only -4.0 ppg, not -78.

All in all, Gannon did not play anywhere near its potential and lost close games to two of the region's best teams. They'll have a chance to get back on track vs. another quality club Wednesday. Slippery Rock won its games this weekend vs. Charleston and Glenville and will enter the Hammermill 2-0.


  1. That Waco center is something else!

    Capacity: 3,000
    Population of Glenville, WV: 1,500

    Not sure if I've ever heard of an arena that seats twice the population of the town!

  2. Yeah, been there. About right 1900 students & 1109 townies. Unca Jed had a rowl with unca Joab and moved out.
    There is one traffic light and its a blinker. Nothing else to do around town for about 20 hilly miles.,

  3. YUK...what a 1st half....didn't know what to expect but it wasn't that !!!.....hopefully its a bit different 2nd half,

    1. 12 turnovers + 1-for-8 on threes = 22-point halftime deficit.

  4. What's amazing. 1st game in the new $25mil WACO center and 589 fans show up.
    Cold but no snow.

  5. That is amazing Fanman.....musta been a big hit at the Bijou tonight popcorn night

  6. I thought that Smith's foul trouble in the first half hurt the Knights as well. They obviously missed his ability to stretch the zone out with his outside shooting. They spent most of the half passing the ball around the GSU trap without looking inside much or getting many good shots. GSU made sure that Blazek didn't get any easy shots, and the rest of the team shot poorly. Add in the turnovers as Jim mentioned and a (for Gannon) pedestrian first half defensive effort, and the Knights dug themselves a hole that proved impossible to escape, despite an excellent defensive effort in the second half.

  7. Why we love Reilly-era Gannon basketball: The Golden Knights play defense like the fate of the free world depended on them taking a charge, blocking a shot or stealing a pass. They rebound with the force of Thor. On offense the players are very talented but the system is restrictive. And clueless. The Knights start the season struggling to stay at or just below .500. Reilly makes an outlandish statement, such as, "This is the most difficult schedule in the history of the program." While Jim Harding turns over in his grave, some fans nod their head. The rest want him fired. The administration responds by extending Reilly's contract through the 2032-2033 season. The team suddenly gels, Reilly is a genius and against all odds the Jammermill's home team enters the final weekend of the season in need of just one more win to get into the postseason. Maybe they get it. Maybe they don't. Either way, it all ends sometime in February or March. And then it starts up again the following November where the Golden Ones open the season in a beautiful new arena in the middle of podunk in front of a handful of fans and lose to a quality team by a score more commonly seen in the 1950s. And the one constant is that grand old wooden benched auditorium that seemingly pre-dates the War of 1812. Gannon basketball. You gotta love it.

  8. Hmmmm......Wilberforce, Alliance, Bethany, Urbania (lest we forget upset a few years ago!), Fredonia, PennSt Beaver, Walsh, Lake Erie (prior to their "legit" years), Dominican......just to name a select few patsies that gave us essentially meaningless 25 point victories early in Gannon seasons past.

    Point being: We lost to an NCAA caliber team last evening, and, play another one in less than 30 minutes. On deck,two more potential NCAA teams with "the Rock" and that green and white team. A look at the schedule reveals that most teams have the potential to win 14-15 games at the minimum. I honestly don't think I've seen that before.

    I feel last nights game will eventually help this squad more than it will hurt.


    A brand spanking new multi-million dollar facility with an attendance last night slightly more than a CYO city championship game.

    A boondoggle.

    "Wait...what?".....I second the motion!!!!!!

    1. Akron, Youngstown, Georgetown, Duquesne, Canisius, UMass, Navy, Niagara, St. Bonaventure, Xavier, Wright St, DePaul . . . . all former Gannon opponents. Yes, this year's schedule is the toughest schedule in recent years but it's not the toughest in the history of the program. As for the offense, well, when the football team outscores you by 15 points that's generally not a good sign. Gannon football team 66 Gannon basketball team 51.

    2. "GO" : Due to circumstances that we all know about, those days are long gone. A generation gone.

      But, perhaps, scroll down memory lane: Those very years that Gannon played those teams, without exception, each year started off with a series of 4 or 5 games against weaklings.

      As this season progresses, I'll be keeping an eye on all these opponents. My guess is when the season is over, the opponents on this schedule MIGHT have the best winning percentage ever.

      Gotta buckle up for this second half!!

    3. I know those days are long gone. I'm not as stupid as you think.

  9. Another less-than-stellar first half for GU vs. Charleston. The Knights only score 22 on 10-of-32 shooting, including 1-for-6 on three-pointers. Surprisingly, defense is just as big a problem as Charleston is shooting 11-of-16 from the field (69%). Thank goodness they have 9 turnovers or this could be totally out of hand instead of a 10-point deficit.

  10. Blazek needs to get 20 a game if we wanna win. I don't like Toupane so far, very sloppy with the ball. I think we need a stronger offensive player to start instead of him. As always great d but no offense.


  11. This game was like a toothache. I was hoping for "Splitsville" on this opening weekend.
    Instead: "Brokedown Palace".

    I agree with the post -game comments. This is a tough, hard-nosed group that will respond.

    I feel like sneaking down into the Hammermill later tonite, and, bolting down the chairs on the visitors bench.

    Kevin Reynolds is on deck....................(speaking of toothaches.....).

  12. 453, if you had gone to the Audi tonight, you would not have had to sneak in; free admission to the Lady Knights impressive 94-77 win over Glenville State College. And you' have seen one of the best performances by a GU point guard, ever. Amanda Berchtold scored 10 points, had 9 assists and 9 boards with only turnovers against a full court press that started when GSU crossed the PA line. Given the constant pressure, I don't think I've seen a better performance by a Lady Knight point guard. And it all came off the dribble, with great court vision and tremendous speed. If it had been hockey, she would have had 25 assists. And if GU had shot just slightly better from inside 10 feet, they would have scored 120+. Great opening win, with 6 players (Berchtold, Batts, Blake, Theis, Neighbors and Saunders) in double figures.

    1. Berchtold by far had her best game as a Gannon Lady Knight. As you state, and I agree with, it was one of the best games that I have seen by a point guard. There was a lot to be impressed by with the ladies on Saturday. Foul Shooting and making the layups/bunnies needs some work, but the Ladies may be just fine this year. Either way, it's a good start!

  13. VERY unusual game plan by the Glenville Women tonight. Not sure if their press was meant to steal the ball or just escalate the pace of the game. I don't believe I saw a single one of their players get in a defensive stance all night. They got the pace they wanted, alright, but they weren't all that good at playing at that pace. In their half court offense, they took some of the worst shots ever seen in Audi history, often just literally throwing the ball at the hoop from well behind the line. And it showed in the stats. 17% from 3 pt range (8 for 47. That's right 47 3 pt attempts!). They took 90 shots in total. They often changed all 5 players at once like in hockey. I cannot see a team winning with that style of play, but...I assumed that they thought going in that they'd wear GU down, but Glenville was just as, if mot more, tired at the end. The last few minutes resembled 2 exhausted heavyweight fighters holding on, waiting for the clock to run out.

    As for bolting the seats down to deter Coach Reynolds mid-court huddles, it wouldn't have helped. The little bugger brings his own stools to sit on in the middle of the court. I have seen more and more D1 teams doing this now. Not sure if it's worth all the trouble. The GU men are sure to figure out their offensive woes, it's just a question of how long it'll take. The other question is "why all these slow starts and lethargic first halves?" Hopefully, a big dose of home cooking will help in that area.

    1. Observor: Come to think of it, you are right!! He DOES bring his own stools!!

      (He is also bringing perhaps the most athletic team in the PSAC West.)

      As far as the lethargic starts and slow halves: Those are disguised when one opens up versus mediocre teams. With this schedule, there is almost zero margin for such. I think, the more games we get under our belts, the better the results will be. I'm just hoping these two early "L"'s don't come to haunt us later.

      Game at a time, just like last season. (Sigh).


      Hats of to Jim for this blog for all of us to vent! I'm sure there is no better one "out there" in all of D-2 basketball.....heck, being the "homer" hat I am, this is the best team hoop blog in all of NCAA basketball..... PERIOD!!

      Well done, Jimmy!! Go Knights!!

  14. Apparently, there will be unofficially regional polls this season coordinate by the D2SIDA group. I heard about this because the Gannon women are ranked. The GU men are not. Here is the first poll for the men:

    Rank School (First-Place Votes) W-L Pts.
    1 West Liberty (W.Va.) (3) 2-0 49
    2 Indiana (Pa.) (1) 2-0 36
    3 Bowie State (Md.) 2-0 28
    Fairmont State (W.Va.) 2-0 28
    5 East Stroudsburg (Pa.) 1-1 22
    6 Slippery Rock (Pa.) 2-0 21
    7 Wheeling Jesuit State (W.Va.) 2-0 14
    8 Shepherd (W.Va.) 2-0 10
    9 Charleston (W.Va.) 1-1 9
    10 West Chester (Pa.) 1-1 5

    Also receiving votes:
    Winston-Salem State(N.C.) (2); Concord (W.Va.) (2); Notre Dame College (Ohio) (1); Livingstone (N.C.) (1)

  15. I love this idea! Gives us an idea of where teams stand regionally. Helps to plug the large gap that the committee left now that they don't do their first rankings till around Presidents' Day. Hope to see GU in the rankings sometime soon.

    Is anyone else worried that we may be 0-4 by the end of the weekend? SRU just beat the two teams that we lost to at the exact same site. And Mercyhurst is always a tough place to play -- the home game against Gannon is always their Super Bowl. Not predicting that it'll happen, but the scenario certainly is a realistic one. (Winning both is also realistic).

    If GU is 0-4 on Thanksgiving, dinner sure won't taste very good.

  16. See where these rankings are after the holidays before you start to get concern. The only thing that is of a concern is that there are only four PSAC teams.