Saturday, February 14, 2015

Let's Get Physical

Exactly one month ago, Pitt-Johnstown hit 9-of-16 three-pointers in an 8-point victory over Gannon, sophomore A.J. Leahey tallying 27 on 7-of-11 shooting from downtown. John Reilly's game plan for today's rematch was straightforward: We are not going to allow that to happen again. No way. We will exert our will on them.

A fired-up GU squad executed that plan to near-perfection, slugging UPJ by 30, 66-36, in no doubt Gannon's best performance of the year. Leahey finished the game with just 5 points (2-of-5 from the field) in 22 minutes of action mainly because the Knights ran at him and bumped him every time he touched the ball on the perimeter. Even if Leahey dribbled around his onrushing defender, that was OK; he wasn't going to get any standstill looks.

Leahey wasn't the only Mountain Cat who was uncomfortable. Reilly had Adam Blazek (and later Marcus Jones) pick up the UPJ point guard full court to throw off the offensive rhythm. And when UPJ worked the ball around the perimeter, the Gannon defense scrambled to make sure no opponent could hold the ball without a Knight breathing on them. The result was just 6 points allowed in the first 11 minutes of play, a 41-21 halftime lead, and a despondent Pitt-Johnstown squad.

As great as the defense was, Gannon showed even more muscle on offense. In the first meeting, Gannon shot just 36% from the field -- missing jumper after jumper -- so Reilly cured that by shooting exclusively at close range for the first 15 minutes. A seemingly rejuvenated A'Darius Porter (8 points), Raphell Thomas-Edwards (8), and jumping jack Rich Austin (2) accounted for 18 of Gannon's first 25 points with nearly all of those scored 5 feet and in. UPJ was intimidated and frustrated by that point, so they began doubling the post man after he received the entry pass. Blazek then scored 11 of Gannon's next 13 points, three of his field goals from behind the arc, none of them touching the rim. The Knights shot so well in the in the first half (68%, 17-of-25 on field goals), I thought they might stay on the court during halftime to be inducted into the Gannon Athletics Hall Of Fame along with the 1989 men's soccer team.

Maybe the Hall Of Fame quip is overstating things a bit, but this isn't: If Gannon could maintain this level of play, they will not only win the PSAC and make the NCAAs, but they will have an opportunity for a deep postseason run.

Knight Knotes:
* I'll get confirmation on this later from Gannon SSID (Super Sports Information Director) Dan Teliski, but to win the West, I believe Gannon has to win only one of its final two remaining PSAC games (at Cal or vs. Seton Hill). At 16-4 and holding tiebreakers over Mercyhurst (15-5) and IUP (14-5), GU essentially has a mulligan in its pocket to win the division. UPDATED 2/16/15: Gannon needs one win or one loss by IUP and Mercyhurst to win the PSAC West.

* Due to some crazy finishes and unthinkable upsets, there was an incredible amount of upheaval among the teams with the best records in the Atlantic Region. In the next CoSIDA poll, the Knights are poised to jump into the top 6 I think. Here are the results from this week:
#1 West Liberty (22-2): W at Shepherd, W vs. Fairmont State
#2 IUP (20-5): L at #9 Mercyhurst, L OT at Edinboro (IUP tied the game on a desperation three at the end of regulation, but were outscored 9-7 in OT)
#3 Bowie State (19-7): L at Virginia Union (VUU is now 8-15 on the season), W vs. Chowan
#4T Glenville State (17-8): L at Urbana (75-42; talk about the wheels falling off!), L vs. Notre Dame Oh. (90-89, Notre Dame nearly blew a 17-point lead)
#4T Fairmont State (17-8): L vs. Wheeling Jesuit, L at West Liberty
#6T Charleston (16-9): L at Concord, L vs. UVa-Wise (77-75, more on this game below)
#6T Virginia State (17-6): L at Chowan, W vs. Elizabeth City State
#8 Slippery Rock (18-7): W at Edinboro, W vs. Seton Hill
#9 Mercyhurst (18-7): W vs. #2 IUP, W at Clarion
#10 Gannon (17-8): W at Clarion, W vs. Pitt-Johnstown
East Stroudsburg (16-8): L at Southern Connecticut State, W vs. Cheyney
Livingstone (14-9): L at Fayetteville State, L at Johnson C. Smith (108-106, Livingstone outscored JCS 65-59 in the second half; 5 players scored 17 points or more for JCS)

In likely the biggest upset of the day in all of college basketball, UVa-Wise shocked host Charleston, 77-75. Wise entered the game 1-22 overall and 0-18 in the Mountain East. When the two teams tangled less than a month ago, UC trampled Wise by 37, 85-48. Wise's only prior win this season came Nov. 14, so today's W snapped a three month long losing streak. And of course they had to win in dramatic fashion. Trailing by 3 with under a minute to play, Brian Sydnor produced a four-point play to give Wise a 71-70 advantage. With 5 seconds to play and leading by just 1, Wise turned the ball over but Charleston missed the ensuing layup and put the biggest of black eyes on its NCAA tournament resume.

* Believe it or not, the 0-2 week for the Livingstone men was a dream compared to what happened to that school's women's program. According to the Twitter feed of Winston-Salem Journal reporter John Dell, Livingstone used an ineligible player most of this season, so instead of being 22-0 they will forfeit nearly all their games, making their official record 4-18. Dell said the Livingstone compliance director has been fired and the athletic director has been placed on probation.


  1. Very classy when the Gannon PA announcer announced that UPJ's Vescovi had just scored his 1,000th point and the Gannon fans applauded. Also very classy that Reilly called time out with 51 seconds to go to make sure Gadson got in the game (he'd been waiting since the two and a half minute mark) and the GU players set it up so Gadson got a FG attempt. Awesome.

    UPJ looked liker a pretty good team but they couldn't get going against Gannon's defense today. Leahey was especially throttled. Just five points. Knights need one more conference win to clinch the West.

  2. That was a St. Valentine's Day massacre. That was as thorough of a victory that you'll ever see. UPJ was throttled from start to finish.

    And a hearty thank you to our Erie County rivals Edinboro and Mercyhurst for making our road to the PSAC West number one seed that much easier. GU still has to win, but it is nice to have a little cushion.

  3. Jim, how did Andrew Dougan do last night? Seriously!
    Gritty comeback by the Lady Knights; huuuuge 3 by Brianna Brennan off a tremendous pass out of the low post by Nettie Blake.
    GU looked tremendous in the men's contest. Looking more like a first-round bye.

    BTW, the Runski dunk was in the Virginia Union game. Lob from Rodriguez in fron of the GU bench to Ski tearing down the far sideline. Best. Dunk. In. The. Audi. EVER!!!

    1. I actually missed that Gannon/VUU game -- that's one of the regrets I will have on my deathbed! Thanks for the memories.

    2. I second the motion!!

      His dunk WAS the best Audi dunk ever!!!

      ( Though Sam Clancy had one that was so hard, the ball dented the north floor under hoop.) Speaking of that, was that a relative of his playing guard for UPJ yesterday???)


      Great, intense team win.This team certainly knows how to bounce back. It's too bad Erie Times-News can't have a picture of game action for this team. A little extra publicity for an NCAA caliber team wouldn't hurt.

      I figured IUP might have a bit of difficulty with both 'Hurst and 'Boro. (Norfleet dinged up didn't help them). Hey, that's the nature of the game.....onto the next one for GU!!

      (Hearing 2 Slippery Rock players have left team.....can anyone confirm??)

  4. i just came across this article on the Charleston/Wise game. The ending was even wilder than I thought from reading the play-by-play. The Charleston coaching staff had to wake up this morning thinking yesterday was a nightmare:

    Virginia-Wise shocks UC 77-75
    What was supposed to be a Valentine’s Day massacre for one side turned into a Valentine’s Day miracle for the other.

  5. The new Performance Indicators for the Atlantic Region show Gannon in #4 spot in the Region. My understanding is the committee for the official regional rankings and NCAA selection use this data as a guide. Here's the list of the top 12 followed by the link to the full report (you will need to scroll down on the page for the latest data).

    1. West Liberty
    2. IUP
    3. Mercyhurst
    4. Gannon
    5. Fairmont State
    6. Bowie State
    7. Slippery Rock
    8. East Stroudsburg
    9. Glenville State
    10. Virginia State
    11T. Charleston
    11T. Wheeling Jesuit

  6. TheObservor, are you out there?

    1. Back by popular demand (I guess). Someone missed MY comments? LOL.

      Been busy this Winter, missing more games than I have in a long time. However, I was there Saturday, and I thought the key to GU's win was forcing Leahy to play defense in he post, which he isn't very good at, as he's not quick OR strong. He picked up 2 quick fouls, got some serious pine time, and GU was off to the races. By the time UPJ got him back in there later in the half, the issue was, for all intents and purposes, decided, Coach Reilly did an excellent job of picking up on this weakness and the players executed perfectly. Great job.

      Also had a chance to take in IUP-Hurst last Wednesday. Watching IUP lose in such an unfortunate manner was very enjoyable, although I agree that missing Norfleet was likely a key loss for the Hawks.

  7. How come Virginia-Wise isn't ranked??? That's an outrage. :-)

    Amazing how things can change in just one week. And I'm sure that they'll change again. Mercyhurst is currently looking good for the school's first-ever NCAA bid. They've looked this good in at this point in the earlier seasons, only to tumble down the rankings in February to miss their bid. Will it happen again? I won't feel sorry for them if they don't, but I wouldn't mind seeing the Hurst make the NCAAs (as long as Gannon makes it, too). They certainly have a worthy squad this year.

    The PSAC championship game will be held March 8 at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised on PCN. A ton can happen and will between now and then, but it's certainly plausible that it could be Gannon facing off against Mercyhurst. Those two teams slogging out for a third time would certainly make for wonderful statewide television.

    One of the beneficiaries for the Livingstone women's situation could be our Lady Knights. Livingstone has been at or near the top of the regional rankings all season. Their absence could open up another spot in the regional. Gannon will certainly be on the bubble this year and I presume that they could wind up in the spot vacated by Livingstone.

  8. During the HOF dinner, the subject of Herb Magee reaching 1,000 wins came up; the conversation trended towards "How many of those wins came against Gannon". I digress in noting that, researching such a query only proves that I need to get out more. PT/U lost the first two games of the series vs. GC/U, and the overall series is tied at 17-17. Coach Magee is 17-15 vs. the Golden Knights. He provided many tremendous moments during the 70's and 80's and goes down as one of the most colorful, entertaining and brilliant coaches ever to face off against Gannon.

  9. The D2SIDA Atlantic Region Rankings were announced today. The real NCAA-approved rankings will be released sometime Wednesday. I hope Gannon fares better in that poll than this one:

    1 West Liberty (4)
    2 Indiana (Pa.)
    3 Bowie State
    4 Mercyhurst
    5 Fairmont State
    T-6 Virginia State
    T-6 Slippery Rock
    8 Gannon
    9 Glenville State
    10 Winston-Salem State

    Also receiving votes:
    Wheelign Jesuit (3), Concord (2), Charleston (1)

  10. Le Moyne may be a weaker team than when we saw them beat Gannon 47-45 back on Nov. 28 at the Hammermill. Leading scorer Nate Gause, who averaged 21.8 ppg and scored a team-high 14 vs. our Knights, was apparently declared academically ineligible after the first semester. Gause hasn't played since Jan. 6 when the Dolphins were a scintillating 11-3. Since that time, Le Moyne has gone just 3-8 including their current three-game losing streak.

  11. On Saturday, former GU coach Jerry Slocum will go for win #700 when his Youngstown State team hosts the University of Detroit. I'd like to see the total basketball budget of all his years combined divided by the number of games he's won. I'm sure his cost-per-win is WAY better than Coach K's. The guy has done some great things with less-than-lavish resources his entire career.

    1. So that means former GU coach goes for #700 against former GU Prez Dr. Garibaldi, correct? Obviously not directly against each other but in the sense of the schools.

  12. Official regional rankings released
    1 West Liberty 22-2
    2 Fairmont St. 17-8
    3 Indiana (PA) 20-5
    4 Gannon 17-8
    5 Mercyhurst 18-7
    6 Slippery Rock 16-7
    7 Bowie St. 19-7
    8 Glenville St. 17-8
    9 Charleston (WV) 14-9
    10 Concord 16-8
    Here are the performance indicators from a couple days ago for a comparison of the two and how accurate the pi are.
    I figured gu would be ahead of mu in the official rankings because of the season sweep.
    17 West Liberty Atlantic MEC 22-2 91.67% 15.50 44.36% 52.36% 3-1 75.0%
    29 Indiana (Pa.) Atlantic PSAC 20-5 80.00% 14.80 48.73% 51.03% 4-4 50.0%
    41 Mercyhurst Atlantic PSAC 18-7 72.00% 14.36 51.41% 50.90% 3-4 42.9%
    47 Gannon Atlantic PSAC 17-8 68.00% 14.24 54.50% 50.23% 6-2 75.0%
    52 Fairmont State Atlantic MEC 17-8 68.00% 14.04 55.20% 50.88% 3-4 42.9%
    53 Bowie State Atlantic CIAA 19-7 73.08% 14.04 48.82% 50.30% 2-4 33.3%
    69 Slippery Rock Atlantic PSAC 15-8 65.22% 13.65 52.41% 50.35% 3-3 50.0%
    72 East Stroudsburg Atlantic PSAC 15-8 65.22% 13.52 47.82% 49.33% 0-4 0.0%
    73 Glenville State Atlantic MEC 17-8 68.00% 13.52 48.70% 52.04% 2-3 40.0%
    78 Virginia State Atlantic CIAA 16-6 72.73% 13.32 42.76% 50.88% 1-1 50.0%
    Also the article on the gu site said only psac and ciaa winners get a bid, why doesn't the mec winner get an automatic bid?