Saturday, January 10, 2015

More Better Everything*

I apologize to my former English instructors at every level of education, but "more better everything*" is the most accurate description I can give of Gannon's 66-48 beat down of Edinboro Saturday night at the Hammermill Center. (I will explain the asterisk later.) Gannon clearly had the better game plan, the better starting five, the better bench, better rebounding (a 50-29 advantage), and the better unit overall not just when you match up individual talent but also in terms of cohesive play.

The Knights rarely gave up an uncontested basket, but the Boro allowed several, most notably to Gannon reserves late in the first half when the Knights bolted to a 12-point lead. One of the many contrasts in team play came midway through the second half. Edinboro had just hit a three to cut the Gannon lead to 8, and A'Darius Porter was trapped between the left block and the baseline. Marcus Jones smartly cut from the right wing to the right block, where he finished a wide open layup. On the ensuing possession an Edinboro big man was in a nearly identical position, but instead of hitting a teammate for an easy bucket, the Knights executed on their defensive rotations and Blazek deflected the pass out of bounds over the baseline. Edinboro eventually missed a three on that possession, giving the Knights the opportunity to stretch the lead further.

Offensively, Gannon was relaxed all evening despite a 1-for-9 start. They knew if they worked the ball from side-to-side, the Boro defense would eventually break down, resulting in an open perimeter look or opportunity in the post. And if the Knights missed, no big deal. GU scooped up 14 offensive rebounds on the night.

And from an attitude perspective, there was no comparison between the two clubs. Gannon always plays with fierce intensity no matter the score or who has the momentum. The Scots started off high -- 5 quick points got everyone wearing red and black fired up. But as Gannon exerted its will, Edinboro lost all its energy. Coach Pat Cleary frequently exhorted his players with a simple direction: "Run!" When leading scorer Henri Wade-Chapman (20.6 ppg) missed a wild layup late -- he was an abysmal 2-for-17 on the night -- he stood on the baseline for a couple moments before jogging back on defense. Look at the Gannon roster and tell me which player you think would do that. I'd say "none of the above."

The Knights have won 9-of-10 and face big tests next week at Pitt-Johnstown and vs. Cal, who just had a 4-game win streak snapped Saturday vs. IUP. The Knights have a chance for a special season. The Scots do not.

Now about the asterisk: I think the only advantage Edinboro has over Gannon is freshman Jaymon Mason. Give the smooth-shooting lefty the PSAC Freshman of the Year award right now. I haven't seen a player of his ability since, well, Jaymon's father Tyrone Mason laced up his sneakers at Edinboro in the mid-90s. Mason had 21 points and 0 turnovers against a ballhawking Gannon defense. At this pace, he will be one of the all-time great Fighting Scots.

Other observations from the local rivalry:
* I am officially old. I interviewed Tyrone Mason for my SportsLook magazine and now his son is at the college level. And I played against Cliff Beck when he was at Blessed Sacrament (I'm a proud Sacred Heart grad), and his son is on the EUP roster as well. I'm now a full generation away from being a has-been.

* Qunn Lee Yaw isn't just a backup forward for Edinboro; he's also the designated yeller. A couple times during the game, the coaches called out a set then turned to Lee Yaw to ask him to lend his booming voice to the cause.

* Stat shot for you: Gannon held Edinboro 31 points below its scoring average of 79.0 ppg. The Scots outrebound opponents by +6 per game, but they were -21 vs. GU. The Fighting Scots are now 7-1 on weekdays and 0-7 in weekend games.

* Faithful Gannon fan Everett Wensel is also a fanatic of the New England Patriots, whose playoff game was held the same time as the Gannon/Edinboro douleheader Saturday. So Everett watched the Lady Knights finally beat Edinboro, ran down the Hammermill steps to a TV in the cafeteria (see photo), then after the Pats' win went back to cheering for the men's team. Tremendous!

6 comments:

  1. Outstanding women's contest tonight as Gannon held off Edinboro, 75-70. Gannon held a 45-25 lead early in the second half, but the Scots battled back with some impressive 3=pt shooting to cut it to 2. Patience and clutch free throws allowed GU to move to 9-2 in PSAC West action.
    Nettie Blake had 28 points and 16 rebounds to lead the way. Mollie Sebald was patient with the ball and made 5 free throws down the stretch to finish with 13. Brittany Batts had only one 3 pointer, but it was huge late, bumping the lead from 2 to 5. Candace Hendricks was solid on both ends of the floor, and Amanda Berchtold ran the offense effectively. All told, an outstanding performance. All parties involved used the "just a regular season game" line beforehand. Yeah, right!

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  2. Now that I can cancel the room at St. Vincent's. What a day. The GU Men need to figure out the slow starts, but other than that can not complain about anything with them. They are playing very good basketball right now. The bench seems deeper than last year, which will come in handy later on in the season. The GU Women had a HUGE win over Boro, what a way for them. Overall a damn good day.

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  3. I don't mind Austin coming off the bench but I still feel like he needs more pt. also I don't like when ad catches the ball on the elbow and dribbles around with it. He needs to catch it on the block where he doesn't have to do as much.

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  4. Released earlier today.

    Gannon Men's Basketball Team Jumps to Fifth in Latest D2SIDA Atlantic Region Media Poll
    http://gannonsports.com/news/2015/1/12/MBB_0112153357.aspx?elinkdata=959453

    The poll is similar to the math-based Atlantic Region Performance Indicators which I check a couple times each week.
    http://www.d2messageboard.com/showthread.php?68853-Performance-Indicators-2014-2015/page4

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  5. mccoy: Good point about Austin's effectiveness 5 feet and in. When he turns over his left shoulder, he shoots about 75% from the field -- elevates over the opponent and shows a deft touch.

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  6. I just watched the highlights from Saturday's game. If you want to see actual video of me updating this blog, go to the 3:50 mark of the video and look in the background. It's riveting stuff.

    http://gannonsports.com/news/2015/1/10/MBB_0110153608.aspx?elinkdata=958966

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