Wednesday, November 19, 2014

They Are Who We Thought They Were

I thought I would find Gannon fans semi-panicking during the pre-game and halftime of Gannon's 64-51 win over Slippery Rock Wednesday evening, but I was dead wrong. Entering the game an uncharacteristic 0-2 and tied at halftime after the offense sputtered to only 26 points, Golden Knight fans I interacted with were confident their club would be fine. The work ethic and talent are certainly there, they told me, and it's just a matter of time before shots fall and GU picks up a W.

That exactly what happened in the second half. Rich Austin hit the glass and contributed 10 points, complementing Girbran Smith's 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. I found great joy watching Austin and his teammates celebrate the redshirt senior's return to the court. After playing just 8 minutes combined in the two season-opening contests, Austin broke open the SRU game open with 8 consecutive close-range points to make a 32-30 nailbiter a more comfortable 10-point advantage. After his third basket, which resulted in a quick Rock timeout, Austin let out a primal scream and was mobbed by his teammates. (You can watch it on this video beginning around the 2:30 mark. I also like Coach Reilly exhorting his team to stop their celebrating and get to the bench. Now!)

I don't know how many games this Gannon team is going to win -- maybe 17, maybe 20, or maybe more. Last night showed us they will be fun to watch if you like intense basketball. They won't be a thing of beauty on offense, but they will crash the boards hard and hit the floor even harder when there's a loose ball.

Other thoughts on the satisfying win:
* The homes for Gannon's starting lineup were the Bahamas, Senegal, England, Georgia ... and Erie.

* Slippery Rock didn't commit its first foul until the 10:17 mark of the first half, but I noted that SRU head coach Kevin Reynolds' first complaint to the officials was registered just 24 seconds into the game, and he pretty much kept up that pace the entire contest. I've seen some annoying, whiny coaches in my day, and Reynolds ranks near the top. I don't think all evening two possessions went by that he didn't gripe at the officials about something. I'm not exaggerating with that statistic. He reminds me of a 4-year-old who needs a nap but refuses to lie down.

* Gannon has held its three opponents -- three quality Division II opponents -- to 57, 54, and 51 points. Bob Dukiet would be very proud of his protege.

* I'm not much for predictions, but I'll bet you a dozen donuts Slippery Rock's Antonio Butler does not repeat as PSAC West player of the week. Entering the game averaging 13.0 ppg and 9.5 rpg, Butler left the Hammermill scoreless (on an 0-for-8 shooting chart) and with only 2 rebounds in 19 minutes. Late in the game, he committed an offensive foul -- which Reynolds protested of course -- out of frustration.

* Quite a Jekyll-and-Hyde game for A'Darius Porter: 4 turnovers and just 2 points on 1-of-7 shooting, but a game-high 12 rebounds, none of them easy. Nobody plays harder between the blocks. Porter went after a loose ball with such reckless abandon, I swear he hit his chin on the floor ... then sprinted down court to set more screens.

* Newcomer Marcus Jones' stat line was quiet -- 0 points, 1 assist, 1 turnover in 11 minutes -- but his on-ball defending impressed me. Over the past three seasons, Adam Blazek has encountered foul trouble guarding the opponent's main ballhandler. Jones showed last night he can fill that role in spurts.

* If you don't understand what my headline to this post references, click here for the YouTube video. Classic.


  1. No comments yet?

    That was as satisfying of a November win in quite some time. Strong performance against a good team at home. Avoid going 0-3, starting the PSAC season with a win. Beating Kevin Reynolds. What's not to like??

    Now let's build on it on Saturday at the 'Hurst!

  2. Definitely not a shocking win; very impressive and delightful... but not shocking. We lost 2 close games to worthy opponents and, even though Rock beat both of those opponents, they won both games by a point or two (so not like Rock went and blew them out of the new gymnasium).

    Even though statistically he didn't put up anything huge, Jean Yves Toupane was a great addition to lineup as well as a big part of the win (his 3 late in the second half swung momentum back onto Gannon's side after Rock went on a run). Nothing against Boykins, I felt he did well in the first 2 games and last night's game when he was in, but I definitely feel Toupane is the right fit (for now) at that spot. To be honest, I'm not sold on either of them are starters for the long haul, but until someone else proves me wrong I am content with Toupane in the rotation.

    I felt Gannon's coaching staff did a great job with their substitutions and "matchups". We obviously has very little answer for Rock's inside guy (Cornelius... Brown?), but they had little answer for Austin on our side. And, as is usual, they had no real response for Adam Blazek.

    Despite being 1-2, I really like what I've seen (looking at the overall picture). Here's to a W on Saturday at Hurst!

  3. Gotta love Rich Austin off the bench! I opined on his potential contributions earlier this summer here. Great team win against a very good, physical, Slippery Rock team.

    A few tweaks here and there (plus some free throw practice), and, it's onward that other green team Saturday!

    (I heard somewhere that Kevin Reynold's Slippery Rock teams have only been out-rebounded 7 times in his career coaching there.

    Well, make that 8!! And, I think we have done it before!!)

    1. all 7 times have probably been against Gannon!

  4. after just watching the highlight reel... didn't realize the "ups" that Austin has... on the one tip-in, he was well above the rim and looked as if he barely jumped!

    Also re; Austin - I love the energy and passion that he brings in addition to Raph's! Especially for a 5th yr senior coming off the bench.... love that attitude!

  5. Non-basketball, troubling headline Dept: "School cuts 14 jobs, reduces 6 others"

    I hoping this isn't the beginning of a trend that, in fewer years down the road than we care to admit, schools begin to cut in the area of ATHLETICS. (As some schools are doing so already...)

    "Declining enrollment" is cited by Mercyhurst officials.

    This development bears some watching.