Saturday, January 31, 2015

Spectacular Saturday For Erie College Basketball

Of course I'm thrilled Gannon seized sole control of first place in the PSAC West today by stifling Mercyhurst, 55-46. What felt just as good was the atmosphere in which the game was played -- a vociferous crowd of about 2,500 shook the Audi rafters for most of the afternoon. Even if the Knights had blown their early 14-point lead and lost, I would have enjoyed the intense but cleanly played contest.

Besides the crowd, it's difficult to have a unique take on yet another 50-something to 40-something Gannon/Mercyhurst game. I've said these contests are usually like a trip to the dentist, and that was again the case today -- figuratively and literally. Mercyhurst shot a painful 26% from the field, connecting on only 12 field goals the entire afternoon. The first half produced a statistic I had never seen before: 9 starters combined for just 2 field goals in the opening 20 minutes. Adam Blazek, 3-for-7 in the opening half, had more field goals than the other 9 starters combined!

Laker guard Gerrae Williams will actually need to visit the dentist next week because he broke a tooth running into an A'Darius Porter screen late in the contest. True to the gutty nature of this game, Williams picked up his tooth, set it on the scorer's table, and returned to action.

More observations from Saturday:
* Unless Mercyhurst suffers a February collapse, Gary Manchel gets my vote for PSAC Coach of the Year. His team isn't ultratalented, but they play hard and smart. Today was the first time I sat behind the Mercyhurst bench (thanks to Hurst athletic director Joe Kimball and former Gannon President and now Mercyhurst administrator Msgr. David Rubino for not giving me the boot), and I was really impressed with Manchel. He teaches and encourages. He scolds when appropriate. He has Gannon well scouted. If the Lakers had an Adam Blazek or a Girbran Smith, we'd all be crying ourselves to sleep tonight.

* Based on that prior comment, am I getting Manchel-Mania? 

* If John Reilly treats his wife and daughter to dinner tonight and he orders submarine sandwiches for them, that will be one more sub than he asked for during the entire second half of today's game. Blazek, Smith, Porter, and Jean Yves Toupane each played the final 20 minutes of the game without taking a breather. Raphell Thomas-Edwards was replaced by Rich Austin with 16 minutes to play, and Austin gave way to freshman Daniel Kaigler near the 9-minute mark.

* Gannon set the tone early on offense pounding the ball inside to Thomas-Edwards and Austin. The pair recorded 10 of GU's 27 first half points. Smith, who was held without a field goal attempt in the first period, erupted for 12 tallies after halftime. One of my favorite Smith plays came with Gannon leading  by 9 with just under 6 minutes to play. That's the time of game when the leading team could start playing tentatively. But after a Gannon defensive rebound, Blazek pushed the ball up the left wing to Smith who caught it, ball faked, took a dribble toward the basket, and zipped home a 16-footer. That gave Gannon an 11-point lead and forced a Laker timeout.

* There was a moment in the game when Gannon's Jean Yves Toupane was guarding Mercyhurst's Jean Onana, possibly the first Jean vs. Jean matchup in Hammermill Center history. Write it down -- historic day.

* I just looked at the Gannon stats and was surprised that Kaigler has played 61 minutes and scored only 24 points. It seems like within seconds of entering games lately the freshman jumping jack hits a bucket or two. He was 2-for-2 from the field and recorded an emphatic block to thwart a Laker run today.

* With February upon us and the Knights among the best in the region, it's time for scoreboard watching. Three of the top 5 in the PSAC West lost tonight -- Mercyhurst, Slippery Rock (77-59 at UPJ), and Cal (68-59 at home to Edinboro) -- and so did PSAC East leader East Stroudsburg (61-58 at Millersville). The Mountain East leaders are starting to beat up on each other as well, West Liberty winning today at Charleston (W.V.) by 18.

UPDATED 2/2/15: Lots of press releases today filled with good news for Gannon basketball fans:
* Knights Ranked 8th In Latest CoSIDA Atlantic Region Poll. This is for entertainment purposes only but is still good news.
* Adam Blazek Named PSAC West Player Of The Week ... for the third time this season
* Women's Hoopster Nettie Blake Named PSAC West Player Of The Week ... for the second consecutive week


  1. Is this the most important Gannon / Mercyhurst game ever? The only other one that I can think of when both teams were this highly ranked was 2001.

  2. If gu beats upj, cal, and millersville, I would argue that they could be IN THE DISCUSSION to POSSIBLY host the region. Gu would have to be top 3. In other news charleston and east stroud both lost. Need to play well Wednesday vs edinboro. They seem to always beat us after we get a big win.

  3. When was the last time an opponent did not have any player score in double figures? Great win for the Knights.

    The Lady Knights posted a 10 point win in the Pink Zone game. First, outstanding job by all involved in putting this event together; in its eighth year, total contributions over the $100,000 mark. Second, Nettie Blake led the way again with 19 points and 23 rebounds. MU broke out to a 14-4 lead early, then Gannon started to pound it in down low; Blake, Jennie Theiss and Candace Hendricks slowly but surely wore down the Laker defense, Batts and Sebald hit some big long-range bombs, and the defense was tremendous. Congrats on 8 consecutive wins in a row.

  4. Great afternoon and an important win.

    This may be the largest Saturday afternoon crowd in Gannon history. Can't remember a Saturday-afternoon sellout, so this may be it.

    How big does that improbable comeback on November 22 loom now? Still a long way to go, but that big road win at the MAC.

    In case you forgot details of the MAC Comeback, Gannon rallied from a 41-25 deficit with 11:21 to go to win 46-44. They held MU to just three points the rest of the game. And today, GU gave up just one point in the first 7:25 of today's game.

    So if you're doing the math, Coach Manchel's squad was able to muster a measly FOUR points in 18:46 of consecutive game action against our defense. Let that sink in for a second. And if you wanted to dig deeper, our defense yielded 1/18 shooting from the field (2/4 from the line) and forced 11 turnovers during the nearly 19 minutes of suffocating defense.

    I know that our offense is not aesthetically pleasing. But I've never enjoyed watching a team play defense like this edition of the Knights. They can shut down good teams like nobody else.

    1. I agree about the defense. I would love to see gu shut down west liberty in the ncaa's

    2. mmccoy: I agree, but we need to stop the Edinboros, Cals, and Pitt-Johnstowns first.

  5. off topic...

    2015 edition of "where are they now?"
    Former GU Golden Knight Tee Talley is currently playing his senior year at Claflin University. The Panthers are a D2 school in the SIAC (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) located in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

    #11 Arthur Talley has played in all 20 games, starting 18 of them (playing less than 5 minutes in 3 of his starts and playing 30+ minutes in 8 of his starts)
    MPG: 24.4
    PPG: 9.8 (high scorer: 4 games; 18, 20, 19, 19)
    FG%: 43.4%
    3FG%: 31.8%
    FT%: 74%
    RPG: 4.7
    APG: 0.6
    TO/G: 1.3
    SPG: 0.6
    BPG: 0.8

    for more info on Tee, here's his bio link...

  6. second installment...

    Aleksandar Malinic #23 Kankakee Community College
    GP: 23
    GS: 12
    MPG: 12.1
    FG%: 58.9
    3FG%: n/a
    FT%: 43.5
    RPG: 3.3
    A/TO: 0.7
    Steals: 8
    Blocks: 1
    PPG: 5.0
    Career High Points: 14 (Dec 4)
    Career High Rebs: 9 (Jan 7)

  7. last one! (sorry forgot there were 2 freshmen that transferred out)

    Nolan Woodward #15 for American International College Yellow Jackets
    GP: 19
    GS: 1
    PPG: 5
    FG%: 48.3%
    3FG%: 44.4%
    FT%: 63.6%
    RPG: 2.9
    APG: 0.6
    TO/G: 1.1
    SPG: 0.5
    BPG: 0.1

    Career High 30 mins played in his only start Dec 17.
    Career High 14 pts Dec 6
    Career High 7 rebounds, 3 times

  8. Note: When UPJ shoots well, they can beat anyone.

    Also note: Edinboro is as dangerous as any team in the league. They will give us their best shot, for sure. We'll have to continue against them what was accomplished against Mercyhurst.

    Playoff basketball continues...

  9. Gu with a big boost in performance indicators. I've said before but these rankings are more accurate and will be more similar to the actual regional rankings rather than the media rankings. The PI follow an actual formula and factor into the formula used by the ncaa for the regional rankings. Very important to not overlook edinboro and keep winning games.
    21 West Liberty Atlantic MEC 17-2 89.47% 15.21 44.77% 52.39% 0-0 0.0%
    23 Indiana (Pa.) Atlantic PSAC 18-3 85.71% 15.14 45.69% 51.39% 0-0 0.0%
    30 Glenville State Atlantic MEC 16-4 80.00% 14.90 48.65% 52.08% 0-0 0.0%
    50 Gannon Atlantic PSAC 14-7 66.67% 14.24 56.48% 49.99% 0-0 0.0%
    52 Mercyhurst Atlantic PSAC 15-6 71.43% 14.14 49.87% 51.24% 0-0 0.0%
    56 Fairmont State Atlantic MEC 14-6 70.00% 14.00 54.16% 51.67% 0-0 0.0%
    61 East Stroudsburg Atlantic PSAC 13-6 68.42% 13.95 48.74% 49.75% 0-0 0.0%
    65 Bowie State Atlantic CIAA 17-6 73.91% 13.87 49.39% 50.72% 0-0 0.0%
    67 Charleston Atlantic MEC 12-6 66.67% 13.83 54.62% 51.18% 0-0 0.0%
    73 Winston-Salem State Atlantic CIAA 11-6 64.71% 13.65 56.10% 49.57% 0-0 0.0%

  10. Just added this updated to the blog post, complete with links to the full articles:

    Lots of press releases today filled with good news for Gannon basketball fans:

    * Knights Ranked 8th In Latest CoSIDA Atlantic Region Poll. This is for entertainment purposes only but is still good news.

    * Adam Blazek Named PSAC West Player Of The Week ... for the third time this season

    * Women's Hoopster Nettie Blake Named PSAC West Player Of The Week ... for the second consecutive week