Gannon outlasted #5 Indiana (Pa.) Saturday night in overtime, 61-56, I'm still not sure who is the better team. But I know for certain who is the tougher club and who's currently the boss of the PSAC West after winning the fourth straight head-to-head matchup between these programs. The Knights pummeled the Crimson Hawks on the boards, 41-20, and it looked a whole lot worse than that. A couple IUP fans screamed bloody murder the entire game (moron ... I mean, more on them later) over the physicality of the Knight forwards, but it was plain ol' rough-and-tumble PSAC West basketball between the blocks.
Indiana produced more
three-pointers, free throws, assists, and steals than Gannon, but GU
owned IUP in the paint. When Raphell Thomas-Edwards posted up and scored
early on, the thought "feed him all night long" entered my mind. Thomas-Edwards entered the game averaging just 9.7 ppg but ended the evening with game
highs of 22 points and 12 rebounds. Indiana's best post player was Drake transfer Daddy Ugbede,
who finished with 13 points in just 24 minutes of play. Initially I
wondered why IUP coach Joe Lombardi used situation substitutions with
Ugbede most of the second half and OT, inserting Daddy for offensive
possessions and replacing him on defense. When IUP big Devon Cottrell
fouled out with 1:48 left in OT, I learned the reason behind Lombardi's
substitution pattern. Thomas-Edwards scored under the basket at 1:13 to
give Gannon a 57-56 lead, grabbed a defensive rebound on Adam Blazek's
first (and very timely) blocked shot of the year, then tipped in a
Blazek miss at the 19-second mark to push the margin to 3.
was so dominant inside, they corralled 17 offensive rebounds to
Indiana's 16 defensive boards. Lombardi sounded bewildered and defeated in his post-game comments to the Indiana Gazette: "We had a problem with them last year and I thought we got
a little tougher. But when a team doubles you up in rebounding, it’s not just
that they got 20 more rebounds, they had two-thirds of the rebounds. We won six
games in 2007-08 and I don’t think that happened then. We’ve always had a
certain amount of toughness and focus in that area, and this is hard to
believe. … It’s not only physical but a mental competitive spirit that I have
to generate in some of our guys. Some guys show up with it on your
doorstep, and some guys don’t."
This win doesn't vault
Gannon into the Division II Top 25, the top 8 in the region, or seal the
PSAC playoffs. Heck, I think Gannon will be an underdog Saturday when
they host 5-2 Shepherd (W.V.).
But it certainly was satisfying to go toe-to-toe with a DII and
Atlantic Region heavyweight and best them for the fourth consecutive
Other thoughts on the Gannon/IUP game:
* If you don't understand the "Who's Your Daddy?" headline reference, click here for the explanation. It has nothing to do with biological parenthood, by the way. That would be weird.
* How about that crazy left baseline jumper
by Girbran Smith that gave Gannon a 51-49 lead with 23 seconds to play
in regulation? He not only had a player draped all over him but he was
drifting over the baseline. A lefty taking that shot would have a 0%
chance at scoring a field goal, let alone hitting the rim.
* I loved the game day program photo of Porter, so it's accompanying this post. Does that kid always have energy or what!
I mentioned earlier the couple -- they were either husband and wife or
boyfriend and girlfriend -- who supported IUP by whining at the
officials all evening. OK -- that's a slight overstatement. They
actually sniped for "only" 39 minutes and 56 seconds of the 45-minute
game with statements like "#32 actually has 10 fouls but you called only
5!" when A'Darius Porter fouled out and "#0's pushing, #0's pushing,
#0's pushing, watch #0! Why won't you watch #0?"
fans took 5 minutes off at the end of the first half when Gannon's Tony
Boykins committed an offensive foul, Gannon's seventh team foul, and
the female fan shrieked, "One-and-one! We should be shooting! It's
one-and-one! Ref! It's one-and-one!" I don't know if she got a look, a
nudge, or a comment from her husband/boyfriend/scream buddy, but they
shut up for the final five minutes of the half because you don't shoot
free throws after player control fouls. If you're going to scream your
head off at the officials, at least know the fundamental rules of the game! It would be like me going to a squash match and yelling, "That should be a counter drop! Why didn't you call a counter drop!"
true advice to these fans is how about you don't scream your head off
and actually enjoy the game -- and allow others around you to enjoy the
game as well. I actually moved my seat from the stands to an open spot
at the press table to get away from this obnoxious pair, but
unfortunately the press table isn't located in Rhode Island. Several
Gannon staffers seated by me repeatedly turned around in shock to look
at the loudmouths. One person said to me, "I've heard enough stupid comments tonight to last a lifetime."
Moments after IUP's desperation three fell out of bounds with 4 seconds remaining, I turned to see how the pair of blabbermouths were reacting. I
saw nothing except empty seats. Thank you for your support and have a
safe ride home. God help the trooper who pulls them over for speeding.