Saturday, January 24, 2015

Smith Saves Season, Knights Eke By Seton Hill

Girbran Smith's three-pointer with 16 seconds left today didn't just win the game at Seton Hill, 53-51. I think his shot saved Gannon's season. There's no way GU could feel confident traveling to Slippery Rock Wednesday after dropping three straight to PSAC also-rans Pitt-Johnstown, Cal, and Seton Hill.

I could only watch the live stats this afternoon (no video or audio access and who really wants to ever go to Greensburg in January), and what a strange feeling it was to see a seemingly insurmountable 48-40 lead disappear as the Knights went scoreless for 4+ minutes. After Griffin David Windsor hit a three to tie the game at 48 then another trey to give his team a 51-50 lead with 35 seconds left, I figured Gannon was dead. Not that I don't have confidence in this team; you just would have to bet the under if the line is 1 on most offensive possessions. But -- hallelujah! -- Smith hit his shot and Windsor missed just before the final horn to move the Knights to 11-3, tied for the best record in the league.

Smith isn't the only hero today. Adam Blazek was 1-for-5 in the first half but went 5-for-10 in the second half, including three threes, to keep the Knights in the game. Blazek played his normal 40 minutes but committed an abnormal 5 turnovers. I'm curious why Blazek has been shifted back to point and Marcus Jones relegated to the bench. Jones barely played vs. Cal and didn't see action in the first half at SHU. He ended up with 17 minutes of play in the second half, registering 4 assists, 3 turnovers, and 0 points. Let's see if he's back in the rotation at the Rock next week.

Other heroes are everyone for Gannon who grabbed a rebound. The Knights were outshot from the field (44% to 38% -- blech), but corralled 16 offensive rebounds to SHU's 2. That gave Gannon a massive 39-20 advantage on the boards and a 13-4 margin in second chance points. And that's your ballgame. It is kind of frightening though that Gannon can play such incredible defense and murder people on the glass, yet come within a whisker of losing the game. What's even stranger is this seems to have happened once if not twice every week this season.

Hopefully this game gives momentum back to Gannon and the Knights will finish strong just like they did a season ago. And hopefully Girbran Smith gets an open look the next time the game -- and season -- are on the line.

10 comments:

  1. The bad news at halftime of the game is Gannon is just 10-for-31 from the field, Adam Blazek is just 2 for his last 14, and the Knights have only 26 points. The good news is GU has 12 offensive rebounds -- 1 more than Seton Hill's total of 11 rebounds -- and a 26-24 lead. Back-to-back threes could break this game open for one club.

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  2. How in the world does Edinboro hammer UPJ today on the road, 77-61 ... despite Jaymon Mason going 1-for-8?!? This is a crazy game.

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    1. Didn't SH demolish UPJ earlier in season?

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    2. No. Pitt Johnstown beat Seton Hill 83-61.

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  3. Anyone know anything about Adam H-W? Has he been suited up? Is he hurt? I know he didn't play much despite starting, but just seems odd he'd go from starting to not playing at all.

    At the beginning of the season I was all for blazek being the point - why not have the ball in your teams best all around player? However after seeing how some pressure was taken off of blazek with AH-W starting and Jones playing aside him which reduced blazeks time at the point - allowing him "a break" to be able to breathe. And now with him back there, it concerns me. By no means is that a knock against blazek!!!! But the team seemed to be clicking with the way it was going with rotations and Blazek playing more of the off guard.

    Definitely going to be interesting down the stretch.

    Diff topic - porter has to be hurt and playing through some pain. 0-6 field, 2-3 ft line ? That's not the porter we know and love, but has been his norm for most of the season. Hoping for the best for him!! - maybe he's just trying to hustle teams and is going to blow it open in playoffs? Haha

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  4. Bottom line is Gannon is still in first place in the PSAC West. Can they hold on to the top spot? There's a realistic chance the Knights go 5-4 the rest of the way (losing on the road to Slippery Rock, Cal, IUP and LeMoyne) and finish 17-11 over all, 16-6 in the PSAC. Will that get the Golden Ones an NCAA bid?

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  6. (Slight) computer issues...

    I would put Porter on Gannon's all-time All-Floorburn team. He again kept a ball alive yesterday at a critical time. Key contributions from everyone helped in this playoff (Yes, I consider it to be the playoffs) win.

    Also key is the continued inside contributions from Rich Austin. As this run continues, he will be an important factor.

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    Memo to Gannon brass: Seton Hill has a nice pep band at the games. I think having one at the Audi would be a welcome addition.

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  7. When looking at the records as of 1/25 there are currently thirteen teams with less loses then Gannon has in the region. This is looking at the PSAC, CIAA and the Mountain East conference. I am sure some will be playing each other and pick up more loses but we have an uphill climb and cannot afford anymore loses.

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  8. My guess on why Blazek was moved back to the point was to get more offense into the lineup by removing Holm-Weber/Jones and adding Tupane. My theory regarding the lack of offense is that several of the Knights are playing with injuries that are minor enough that they can still play, but are significant enough that the players are being thrown off their games by said injuries. IMO that list includes Porter(who's had knee problems), Thomas-Edwards (whose wrist is clearly an issue), and Blazek (who is clearly not himself, not sure what specific injury he has, although he had surgery in the off-season). Of course, there's a good chance that fatigue, often an issue with the Knights at this time of year due to their legendarily lengthy practices, is making the players leg-weary, affecting their shots. I'm hoping the latter situation isn't a factor, but it wouldn't be the first time.

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