Saturday, January 3, 2015

And Then Along Came Jones

Photo courtesy Joe Mattis and Gannon University
Last year the emergence of Girbran Smith elevated Gannon from a sluggish 6-7 start to the PSAC West title and an NCAA tournament berth. Could freshman Marcus Jones be this year's Girbran Smith? After a typical Jones stat line during Saturday's 66-61 overtime loss at Millersville -- 13 minutes, 0 points -- the backup freshman point guard was averaging less than a point a game and the Knights were a pedestrian 8-5.

But Jones was the spark in Sunday's 62-50 victory at Shippensburg, hitting for 14 points in 28 minutes of action as GU moved to 8-1 in PSAC play. Jones hit all three of his field goal attempts and went 8-of-9 at the line, leading a 26-4 advantage in bench points. We couldn't watch the game -- I can't wait for streaming video technology to arrive in central and eastern Pennsylvania -- but I'm sure Jones created every scoring opportunity at full speed.

On New Year's Day during lunch, I bumped into two longtime Gannon fans at the Pizza Hut near West 12th and Peninsula Drive. They were happy with the consistent production of Gannon's seniors but raved the most about Jones. I thought to myself that was quite a bit of praise for a kid who only scored 10 points during the first semester, but I couldn't disagree. Jones is a solid ballhandler, able to deal with pressure, move the ball side-to-side, and occasionally drive by his man. But defense is where he most impresses me. When many guards are asked to pressure the ball, they are likely get beat off the dribble ... but not Jones. He'll take one step back to stop the penetration then jump right back into the opposing point guard's chest. I haven't seen on-ball defense this good since lighting quick Roland Shannonhouse sparked Gannon to two deep NCAA runs in the late 1980s.

Earlier this season when Gannon struggled mightily on offense with Smith in foul trouble, fans looked to Adam Blazek to provide all the offense. Maybe Jones can be that X factor that makes Gannon great on both ends of the floor.

Other thoughts from this weekend:
* If you don't understand the "And Then Along Came Jones" reference in the headline, you aren't old enough to have season tickets in the plush seats. And you need to listen to more of The Coasters and less of this made-for-marketing tripe that passes for music today.

* Does anybody know why Raphell Thomas-Edwards played only 5 minutes Saturday? He returned for 28 minutes vs. Ship, so it's not like he broke his collarbone or anything like that.

* Gannon still has the best record in the PSAC West at 8-1, but IUP is creeping closer at 6-2 after a perfect weekend. The Crimson Hawks won handily at Stroud (78-63) and at West Chester (84-65). Taking bad losses were 6-2 Slippery Rock at Mansfield (82-72) and 6-3 Mercyhurst who scored just 16 points in the first half and shot 27% for the game in a 53-43 loss at Kutztown.

* The Bears are now 7-2 in the PSAC East -- should be quite a showdown Wednesday night at the Hammermill. KU started the season 0-2 -- just like our Golden Knights -- and have won 10-of-13 since. Two of those losses were nailbiters vs. Slippery Rock and West Chester.


  1. Women lose 57 to (gulp) 31. Men down 13-6 with in minutes left in the first half.

    So Gannon team have combined to score 37 points in 50 minutes of basketball. Happy New Year.

  2. Down 33-24 at the half. Millersville has ONE made two-point field goal (seven threes and 10 FT's)

  3. After a great comeback, Gannon committed 5 turnovers in over the final 2:53 of OT -- including 3 in 8 seconds -- to lose a 4-point lead and the game to the 'Ville.


  4. Happy (gulp) 2015!!

    Tough, brutal loss, for sure.

    Just when the timing, the sequencing, and, the flow came to our offense, we get a 2 week Christmas break. Fantastic momentum crusher.

    We'll be OK......this team and Coaching Staff know this fire drill.

    They will respond.

    Back at it tomorrow......

  5. This article on Raphell Thomas-Edwards appeared recently in the Pittsburgh Sporting News. I hope Gannon doesn't suffer from the ol' Pittsburgh Sporting News jinx!

  6. Just released ...

    Gannon Men's Basketball Team Ranked Ninth in Latest D2SIDA Atlantic Region Media Poll

  7. I've always thought that Jones should be the starting point guard. He gives you quickness, ball handling, defense AND offensive possibilities.
    Hope that Millersville was just a hiccup for the Knights. Kinda scared me ...looked like the beginning of the season all over again...get way behind early and try to catch up, plus the late TO's.

  8. A split on the road in conference is not a horrible result. And the first game back from a two-week hiatus can produce wonky results. That said, it's still too bad that such a great comeback was wasted. Should be fun on Wednesday!

    Speaking of wonky results, if you said about the women's 57-31 debacle, "Wow ... when was the last time Gannon scored that few points?" You have to go back a l-o-o-o-ng way. The last time a GU women's (or men's for that matter) team scored that few points was March 4, 1977, when GU lost at home to Clarion, 62-26 in the last game of the program's third season. The Karen Morris-coached 1976-77 edition of the Lady Knights was 2-13 (0-13 on-court; the only two wins were two forfeit wins claimed over Villa Maria). They failed to break 31 on six occasions. Things got considerably better in the fall of 1977 when a freshman named Rona Nesbit arrived on campus.

  9. By the way ... nice photobomb by EWenzel in the picture of Marcus Jones.

  10. On coach show after Sunday's game it was said that RTE did something to his wrist about 3 weeks ago. They said they were not sure if it was actually broken or not, but that RTE had been battling it for nearly a month. Apparently Saturday against millersville either the ball or another players hand hit his hand and his wrist bent the wrong way. It was decided he could not return as he had little motion in it.

  11. Thanks for the info Golden and Corey.

  12. Christmas break or not, the attendance figures in the PSAC box scores are disturbing. Sixty-six (66) souls witnessed our win on Sunday afternoon, (I hope I misread the box score)

    If this trend keeps up, look for more Cheney/'Hurst type news in the next year or so. The numbers appear to be so low, that one has to wonder how much money is LOST just by unlocking the gym, and, turning the lights on at these schools.

    These are MYAA/CYO league numbers.

    Troubling, to me, anyway............

  13. Bonus points for The Coasters reference, Jim.

    Wonder what PSAC genius decided it would be a good idea to schedule all three Erie teams on the road this weekend. It's happened before too. Would be nice to catch a Boro or Hurst game (well, maybe nice isn't the right word) when the Golden Ones are on the road.

  14. been kabitzen about that for yrs especially for football

  15. You have to keep in mind the PSAC does not know how to spell FAN let alone do anything to cater to them. I think this is why the Gannon current administrators are very happy being in the PSAC.