Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Once Again, Blazek Owns McComb, Fighting Scots

Gannon's Adam Blazek capped a perfect college career at Edinboro's McComb Fieldhouse Wednesday, leading the Knights to a 66-61 nailbiting victory. The all-everything guard can forever brag that he never lost on the road to his archrival and that he stuffed the stat sheet each contest as well:

Freshman (2/8/12): W 77-73 OT 26 points, 8-for-15 FG, 4-for-4 3FG, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 40 minutes
Sophomore (1/16/13): W 86-63 15 points, 5-for-12 FG, 3-for-6 3FG, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 27 minutes
Junior (1/18/14): W 71-59 18 points, 4-for-10 FG, 3-for-6 3FG, 7-for-7 FT, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 40 minutes
Senior (2/4/15): W 66-61 20 points, 5-for-12 FG, 2-for-3 3FG, 8-for-10 FT, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 38 minutes

That's an average of 19.8 ppg sparked by 12-of-19 shooting on threes. He doesn't have quite that many assists, but the ones he produced are done with flair. Maybe you recall his right-handed, between-an-opponent's-legs pass last year (photo evidence here). I certainly hope you saw Wednesday night his 35-foot BB in the first half -- a cross between a bowling trick shot with reverse English and skipping a flat stone on Lake Erie -- that split a double-team and led to a Gannon layup attempt.

Blazek was also spectacular on defense as well. Boro freshman Jaymon Mason torched Gannon with 21 points when the two clubs met Jan. 10, but he scored only 14 Wednesday, and nearly all of those occurred during stretches where Blazek wasn't hounding him. As GU official scorer (and Athletic Hall of Famer) Rick "Stats" Klapthor pointed out to me after the game, Blazek stayed on Mason's left arm all evening, keeping him from getting into his normal shooting stroke. Even if you sat at the top of the McComb bleachers, you could see that Mason was frustrated -- and that Blazek is one of the all-time best Edinboro opponents to play in that gymnasium.

Knight Knotes:
* For those of you who forgot John Reilly can coach ... check out on the game tape how his tactics were the difference down the stretch vs. Edinboro. Go to the 3:50 mark first. Gannon is up 62-61 with 21.5 seconds left and has just missed three consecutive free throws. One of Reilly's strategies on Gannon free throws is to have the forwards "X," which means instead of just stepping into the paint where they can be boxed out easily, they cross to the other side of the lane. A'Darius Porter and Raphell Thomas-Edwards execute that move perfectly. They both get free as the ball caroms off the rim, Porter tipping the miss to Thomas-Edwards. Blazek followed with two free throws to push the margin to 3.

On Gannon's next defensive possession (at the 4:45 mark), Reilly has Blazek jump in front of Mason as he advances the ball, causing him to change directions, and shades Jean Yves Toupane over to disrupt the ballhandler as well. Mason loses control, Toupane dives on the floor, and GU calls timeout. The next defensive possession (at 5:22) the scheme is even more noticeable, and Mason turns the ball over again. Say what you will about John Reilly, but there's no argument he's one of the finest defensive and rebounding coaches in small college basketball.

* Helping spark Gannon's offense Wednesday was an adjustment to their typical hi-lo set. Usually when one forward catches the ball at the elbow, the other Gannon forward posts up on the strong side low block. But against Edinboro, the forward posted on the weak side, allowing the high post an open lane to the basket. In a tight game like this one, that move was a difference-maker.

* Goal #1 when attending a game at McComb is for the Knights to win, of course. Goal #2 is to make sure your winter coat, hat, and gloves don't fall through the bleachers. I accomplished both goals Wednesday. Those who didn't may still be stuck in Edinboro waiting to fetch their mittens.

* I miss the old Fighting Scot logo that used to grace center court at McComb. Not only was it unique, the sword marked the spot where I saw the longest non-desperation basketball shot, a Steve Moyer bomb from nearly 40 feet away. Now at midcourt is a giant letter "E," which couldn't be more dull. Though I noticed when you sit on the scorer's table side of the court, the "E" upside down looks like a "3" which could actually be a tribute to Moyer's long distance feat.

* To cap off this Ode To Blazek, the senior guard was named to the Capital One Academic All District First Team for the second consecutive season on Thursday. The journalism communications major has a 3.66 GPA. Maybe next year I can retire and he can take over this blog?

UPDATED 2/5/15 at 11:15 PM: I just received this note from Gannon SID Dan Teliski: "Great piece by WPXI in Pittsburgh on former Gannon basketball standout Tyler Stoczynski's team starting their three-year manager with Down Syndrome who scored the game's first basket." Tremendous!

11 comments:

  1. really no write up or comments yet? is everyone snowed away from their computers, tablets, phones? :)

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    1. Maybe team is so quietly efficient, there is nothing to say!!
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      I think Edinboro coach said it best: "...they out-toughed us tonight".

      Hats off to entire team and coaching staff on a tough win on the road. This group embraces the challenge of playing and competing in big games on the road. I'm starting to wonder if this coaching group has, or, is approaching, the best overall road record in school history. In their tenure here, there have only been a handful of road blowouts, and, as time goes on, more and more road wins. Fans have to love how this group competes. The small hustle plays that never show up in the box score make a difference.

      And........another big shot by Smith!!!

      Next up: IUP!

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    2. Reilly's career road winning percentage is .482. Not sure where that ranks him all-time but Jim Harding's career road winning percentage was .615 and Tom Chapman's .540. So, no, Reilly is not approaching the best overall road record.

      Little noted is that this season Reilly became the first Gannon coach to lose 100 games. He's currently at 103. No one else has more than 78. That is partly due to Reilly being the longest tenured coach in Gannon history. But it's more to do with his career winning percentage. Reilly has managed to hang on to the Gannon coaching job despite a career winning percentage that is the lowest of any Gannon coach in the modern era (1961-present). Only Dave Markey has a lower winning percentage. In the past 54 years Gannon has had only five losing seasons. Three of those five were under Reilly.

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    3. "GO"....Thanks!.......good statistical update to correct my assertion.

      Gotta admit, though....this group competes with every possession. We'll need another intense effort at IUP on Saturday!

      Go Knights!

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    4. Assuming I am reading the on-line Gannon record book correctly, with two more wins, Coach Reilly will tie Jerry Slocum as the winningest coach in Gannon history. Unless we collapse down the stretch, Reilly will finish the season with the most wins in Gannon history.

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    5. gogannongo - how many times have the Gannon Men been to the Elite 8? and how many times under which coaches? How many times did Gannon, under Reilly, win the GLIAC and then win their first Tournament game? How many times did Gannon, under Slocum, win the GLIAC and then win their first Tournament game?

      I'll anxiously be awaiting the statistics.

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    6. #453 . . . yes, I agree, this group competes to the max on every possession. Hard to imagine a team anytime anywhere out-hustling these guys! Gotta love 'em for it.

      Corey . . . Gannon been to Elite 8 five times, twice under Chapman and once each under Sparling, Dukiet and Reilly. Gannon was in the national championship game with Chapman. Gannon never won the GLIAC under Reilly. Reilly's Gannon teams qualified for the GLIAC tournament only once and did not win it. Slocum took six Gannon teams to the NCAA tournament, never getting past the first round. Reilly's teams have made the NCAA tournament three times. Reilly's teams are 5-3 in NCAA tournament games.

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  2. Good road win but that offensive performance isn't gona cut it vs iup. 16 turnovers is too much and smith gets into foul trouble too quickly and too often. I must say I t's hard to play in the psac when the opposing team seems to be able to get away with far more contact inside. Not only are some of our big men playing hurt but Boro and sru were allowed to get away with so many cheap shots and grabbing in the post. #4 for Boro should've been fouled out in the first half.

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  3. This had to hurt:

    Golden Rams Shock Lock Haven With Miraculous Comeback, 76-75
    http://www.wcupagoldenrams.com/news/2015/2/5/MBB_0205150407.aspx

    ... but maybe not as bad as this:

    EAST STROUDSBURG - Dylan Edgar had 21 points, all in the second half, and Shippensburg rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit for a 72-71 win over East Stroudsburg University in PSAC East men's basketball on Wednesday night at Koehler Fieldhouse.

    http://www.esuwarriors.com/news/2015/2/4/MBB_020415.aspx?path=mbball

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  4. Some crazy goings-on in the PSAC East ... We've lost our share of heartbreakers to West Chester, but never quite like the way Lock Haven collapsed. The Lock Haven men's basketball blog must have really lit up after that game.

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    1. Indeed.

      http://www.lockhaven.com/page/blogs.list/

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