Saturday, December 13, 2014

Redeem Team, Part I

I don't know if John Reilly or any Gannon upperclassmen talked about last season's 85-75 loss to Shepherd (W.V.) before today's 74-56 shellacking of the Rams at the Hammermill Center, but it sure seemed to me the Knights played like they had something to prove. A few statistics and one anecdote made me think this was more than just another game for GU:

* Gannon held Shepherd 22 points below its season scoring average of 78.3 ... and a whopping 29 fewer points than the 2013 loss. The Rams didn't just look uncomfortable; at times, they looked like they wanted to be back on the bus.
* 6-foot-6 junior Morgan McDonald entered the game as the Rams' leading scorer (19.6 ppg) while attempting 13 field goals per game. McDonald finished with 7 points and just 6 field goal attempts in 31 minutes. He looked completely overwhelmed by Gannon's stronger and more athletic forwards.
* Gannon outrebounded Shepherd, 30-21, but that's commonplace for a Reilly team. I was stunned the Knights attempted 16 more field goals (57 to 41) for the game. No one on the SU team attempted more than 6 field goals while Gannon guards Adam Blazek (11-for-17) and Girbran Smith (7-for-16) got open looks all afternoon. Those seniors played like they wanted to beat Shepherd by a hundred.

Blazek turned in his best game of this young season. He wasn't just good -- he went off for 27 very loud points. After tallying 12 in the first half, including a stinging right-corner three at the buzzer, he was perfect in the second period. Blazek scored 15 points after halftime, making all 6 of his field goal attempts including 3 three-pointers. Blazek was hounded most of the afternoon by Steve Nash wannabe Skyler Roman, who must have made a few snide comments to the Gannon senior earlier in the game. With about 3 minutes to play and Gannon in the midst of a 10-0 run that pushed the lead to 26, Blazek held the ball on the right wing, guarded there by Roman. Blazek jab-stepped at Roman once ... twice ... then a third time before sticking a three in Roman's eye. After the shot zipped through the net, Blazek made a comment towards Roman, barked at him again when he crossed midcourt, then blurted out "Yeah, boy!" to him after a Shepherd turnover seconds later. Roman was promptly taken out of the game then Blazek buried another three which sent the Gannon bench into a frenzy.

Last year when these teams met, "SU" stood for Shepherd University. Today, because of Gannon's suffocating defense and Blazek's hot shooting, those letters represented "Shut Up," which is exactly what the Knights did to a pretty talented ballclub.

GU more than made up for last year's loss to Shepherd, and they'll have chances next week to redeem themselves for last season's two playoff defeats. On Tuesday Gannon hosts 5-2 East Stroudsburg, who ended GU's 2013-14 season in the second round of the NCAA's, followed by a Wednesday contest vs. 3-5 West Chester, who won the 2014 PSAC semifinal game 77-76 in overtime. Stroud and West Chester also drilled Gannon during the regular season last year ... which I'm sure Reilly and the Gannon veterans remember all too well.


  1. Well, Gannon certainly did bring its A-game. That was a tidy 1 hour & 37-minute whooping on a Saturday afternoon.

  2. It was good to see Adam got untracked because he is needed to play like he did today if Gannon has post season plans.

  3. Offense: Improving game-by-game.

    Defense: #1 in the Country.

    We proceed....

  4. Best stat line
    Gannon 18 assists, 11 turnovers
    Blazek 5a, 1to
    Jones 6a' 3to

    Only player with a negative asst/to ratio was Smith at 1-2.

  5. Check this out -- Gannon is better than Michigan and Syracuse! How did I arrive at that conclusion? It’s an 8-step process:

    1. Gannon beat Indiana (PA)
    2. Indiana (PA) beat University of the Sciences (PA)
    3. University of the Sciences (PA) beat Drexel
    4. Drexel beat Cornell
    5. Cornell beat Mass-Lowell
    6. Mass-Lowell beat New Jersey Tech
    7. New Jersey Tech beat Michigan
    8. Michigan beat Syracuse

  6. I received this from Gannon SSID (Super SID) Dan Teliski over the weekend:

    Quick tidbit … NCAA released its latest statistical report on Friday. Gannon has played against the eighth-toughest schedule in the country to date. This doesn’t include yesterday’s game against Shepherd and stats only include games against D2 opposition.

    (1) Oakland City (Opponents 5-0) * Six of their seven opponents have been non-D2 so they don’t count.
    (2) Stillman (17-5, .773)
    (3) New Mexico Highlands (15-5, .750)
    (4) Ferris State (15-5, .750)
    (5) Dixie State (28-10, .737)
    (6) Cal Poly Pomona (19-7, .731)
    (7) Catawba (27-10, .730)
    (8) Gannon (39-15, .722)

    Only other two PSAC schools in the top 100 …
    (29) Slippery Rock (30-15, .667)
    (67) East Stroudsburg (27-18, .600)

  7. Somehow, more fans need to be showing up for the games. Hopefully, it begins Tuesday evening. This team is too good for the meager fan support so far. I'm hoping as the season progresses, the Audi can be turned into a "pit" again..

    We can only hope!

  8. #453 It takes more than hope to put people in the stands. There is a lot of competition for the sport entertainment dollar and the school has to get off their dead a__ and start doing some promotion to get the people in the stands. Once you get them in then the teams play can bring them back. The new AD said her goal was to promote Gannon sports. If there are efforts being made it appears to be very low key. I have not seen anything in the media or on Gannon's alumni email.

  9. Update from Dan Teliski on strength of schedule:

    We’re up to the fifth-hardest schedule in D2 according to the NCAA’s release this afternoon.

    (1) Oakland City (Opponents 7-0, 1.000)
    (2) St. Edward’s (11-3, .786)
    (3) Dallas Baptist (15-5, .750)
    (4) Catawba (29-10, .744)
    (5) Gannon (45-18, .714)

    PSAC Teams in Top 100
    (28) Slippery Rock (31-16, .660)
    (55) East Stroudsburg (27-18, .600)

  10. (Repeating): I think in terms of calculations like the above, this years' schedule is the hardest one in Gannon Basketball history.
    Yessiree Bob! I agree with your comments!

  11. Gannon has cracked the top 10 in a startup regional poll. Here's the Gannon release:

    Gannon Men's Basketball Team Enters D2SIDA Atlantic Region Media Poll at No. 9

    ERIE, Pa. - The Gannon men's basketball team cracked the top 10 for the first time in the latest Division II Sports Information Directors of America (D2SIDA) Atlantic Region Media Poll released Monday afternoon. The Golden Knights are tabbed No. 9 in the latest ranking.

    D2SIDA will sponsor regional and national basketball polls this season for the first time. The national poll, with two sports information director representatives from each of the eight NCAA Division II regions, will be released each Tuesday.

    West Liberty (W.Va.) was the unanimous No. 1 pick with a perfect 8-0 record. Glenville State (W.Va.) (6-2), Winston-Salem State (N.C.) (6-1), Indiana (Pa.) (7-2) and East Stroudsburg (6-2) completed the top five.

    Slippery Rock (5-2), Livingstone (N.C.) (5-1), Bloomsburg (6-1), Gannon (5-4) and Mercyhurst (6-3) rounded out the top 10.

    Rank School (First-Place Votes) W-L Pts. Prev.
    1. West Liberty (W.Va.) (3) 8-0 30 1
    2. Glenville State (W.Va.) 6-2 24 2
    3. Winston-Salem State (N.C.) 6-1 23 T-5
    T4. Indiana (Pa.) 7-2 20 3
    T4. East Stroudsburg 6-2 20 6
    6. Slippery Rock 5-2 18 4
    7. Livingstone (N.C.) 5-1 6 RV
    8. Bloomsburg 6-1 5 7
    T9. Gannon 5-4 4 NR
    T9. Mercyhurst 6-3 4 NR