Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Knights Beat Seton Hill, Win PSAC West, Likely Get NCAA Berth

As a tribute to the Clarion men's basketball team, who has a history of mailing it in for the final game of the regular season -- including Wednesday night's 101-66 laugher at IUP -- I'm going to give minimal effort for this final blog post of the regular season. No organization. No research. Minimal editing. Maybe I'll run spell check. Maybe I win't.

Look at the headline of this article. I use bland verbs like "beat", "win", and "get", which is the ultimate in weak/vague verbs. Also, I should have focused on one thought in the headline instead of three, but it's the last game of the year. Who's going to remember my pathetic effort next season?

Back to Clarion for a second. I'm thinking you, me, and the next three people you bump into could have played better defense than the Golen Eagles (no D of course) did during the first half at Indiana. At one point the Crimson Hawks made 14 consecutive field goals. There's bad defense, there's NBA All-Star game defense, and then there's that. IUP isn't the highest octane offense in the conference, but they already had 56 points by the break. They scored that same amount for the entire game Dec. 6 at Gannon, and that one went into overtime.

Let the random thoughts begin:
* I haven't even mentioned the final score of the Gannon/Seton Hill game yet. It was 58-45. SHU's zone took away Gannon's post game and turned the contest into a grind-it-out slog.

* Before the game, I was talking to longtime Gannon fan Dan Carneval near where the seniors and their families were lining up for the pregrame ceremonies. Adam Blazek's mother introduced herself, said she recognized my photo from this website, and told me she enjoys reading what I write. She also said that Adam patterned his game after my Gannon career and that he wouldn't be what he is today if it wasn't for me. That last sentence is completely false. I'm not just mailing it in; I'm making things up.

* About the Blazek family ... if at dinner time at their house a meatball rolls off the table, I imagine the entire family scrambles from their seats and dives onto the floor to get the meatball. Then whoever gets it, the rest of the family swipes at the meatball until they knock it away or the person eats it. That's pretty much how Adam has played his four years at the Hammermill, right?

* If I was trying, I not only wouldn't have told that ridiculous made-up story about the Blazeks and meatballs, but I would have included the link to the Gannon/Seton Hill game summary, box score, and video in the first paragraph of this post. Here it is.

* Senior night games are always strange to some extent. The players are either so fired up they play out of their minds (e.g. Steve Moyer's three-point assault vs. Wayne State) or they have too much "jump" at the start of the game due to the stress of playing in front of family members, some for the first time as collegians. Gannon's seniors fell into the latter category, launching off-target jumpers and generating several turnovers in the opening minutes. The defense was unaffected, stifling Seton Hill from the get-go.

* Related to that last comment, I now know where A'Daruis Porter gets his energy from. It's a maternal thing. His mother and grandmother (and I believe his aunt and sister or niece) were the happiest fans I've ever seen in the Hammermill. Not only were they completely decked out in maroon and gold, but they waved homemade signs and their arms above their head every time Porter made a positive play. I wouldn't be surprised if they had to rush to UPMC Hamot after the game for MRIs on their shoulders because Porter dominated between the blocks with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

* Random thought: Did you know that if you rearrange the letters in PSAC you get CAPS?

Tim Rohrbach photo courtesy Gannon University
* I'll tell you 5 guys who never mailed it in: the Gannon seniors pictured on this page. I won't reflect on their careers completely here -- hopefully their season has another month to go -- but I can't think of another group that had such a combination of ability, camaraderie, and intensity. These guys are the reason we have games to look forward to in March.

* Did you know that PSAC also stands for the Portmarnock Sub Aqua Club in Ireland and Puget Sound Agricultural Company in Washington? 

* The PSAC playoff schedule -- that's for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference -- is set. For the West on Tuesday, Gannon will play the winner of Edinboro at Slippery Rock while Mercyhurst will face the UPJ/IUP winner. Tuesday tips off early at 7:00 at the Hammermill.

* As far as the region goes, I don't see a scenario that Gannon doesn't make the NCAAs. The PSAC and CIAA tournament champs get automatic bids (the Mountain East gets an auto bid in 2016), and even if two wild cards outside the top 8 win those spots, I don't see Gannon dropping out of the top 6. Slippery Rock lost twice last week and only dropped from #6 to #7 this week. Also, two wild cards winning would mean that everyone in the top 8 would suffer a loss, so Gannon wouldn't be the only one with an early-March blotch.

* By far and away the most important thing related to Gannon's chances of making the NCAA tournament is ... nevermind. Time for a nap.

Regional Rankings / Upcoming Schedules

UPDATED 2/28/15 at 10:55 PM. Rankings reflect in-region records as of Sunday, 2/22/15. 

#1 West Liberty [23-2]: W vs. #9 Glenville St., W at #10 Wheeling Jesuit
#2 Indiana Pa. [22-5]: W vs. Clarion, W PSAC vs. UPJ (PSAC first round), Tue. at #4 Mercyhurst (PSAC quarters) 
#3 Gannon [19-8]: W vs. Seton Hill, Tue. vs. #7 Slippery Rock (PSAC quarters)
#4 Mercyhurst [20-7]: Tue. vs. #2 Indiana (PSAC quarters)
#5 Bowie State [21-7]: W vs. Chowan, L vs. Livingstone (CIAA semis)
#6 Fairmont State [18-9]: W at Shepherd
#7 Slippery Rock [16-9]: W vs. California, Sat. W vs. Edinboro (PSAC first round), Tue. at Gannon (PSAC quarters)
#8 Concord [18-8]: W vs. Davis and Elkins, W at UVa-Wise
#9 Glenville State [17-9]: L at #1 West Liberty, W vs. WV Wesleyan, Tue. vs. UVa-Wise (MEC first round)
#10 Wheeling Jesuit [17-8]: W vs. WV Wesleyan, W vs. WV State, L vs. #1 West Liberty, Tue. vs. Urbana (MEC first round)
Virginia State [18-7]: L vs. Fayettville State  
East Stroudsburg [18-8]: W vs. Kutztown, Tue. vs. Millersville (PSAC quarters)
Charleston [17-9]: W vs. Notre Dame (Oh.), W vs. WV State
Winston-Salem [16-9]: W vs. Shaw, W vs. Fayetteville State (CIAA semis), L vs. Livingstone (CIAA finals) 
[CIAA AUTO BID] Livingstone [16-9]: W vs. Lincoln, W vs. #5 Bowie State (CIAA semis), W vs. Winston-Salem (CIAA finals; 106-91!)

26 comments:

  1. I've never seen anyone play as hard as Adam blazek has for the past four years
    I'd like to see him go out with at least a psac championship

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  2. That I think we all can agree on.

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  3. 20 wins has a nice ring to it, especially coming out of the box at 0-2.

    As far as Adam Blazek: I think he goes down as one of the top 20 players ever to suit up a Gannon uniform. It was certainly a very quick four years.

    The only thing(s) I never saw him do was dunk a basketball, or, score the 100th point in a Gannon game!!!

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    1. Blazek had a dunk his freshman year. Well if you want to call it a dunk haha it was against either Mecyhurst or Edinboro (I just remember it being a local rival) at the Audi. Gannon was down most of the game and had cut it to 2. Blazek stole the ball and the defense didn't even try to chase him. Noticing he was all by himself he jumped and "dunked" the ball with 2 hands (the crowd went NUTS!!! you would've thought he just hit the game winning bucket in the NCAA Final). Coach Reilly was about white in the face because I'm guessing he, as well as probably everyone else in the building, didn't think he was going to get it in there (the ball was literally right at the rim). But I remember that because the other coach then called timeout and Gannon went on like a 10-0 run to end the game.

      Did Gannon ever score 100 points in Adam's 4 years? haha

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    2. Time flies, Corey. Yes, I now remember that stand-alone dunk!

      The 100th point reference was is in regard to another famous guard that played for Gannon!

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    3. 453 - I wasn't intending that as a "you're wrong" kind of thing... my thought was you may not have been at the game it happened. But yes stand-alone dunk is spot on...I was waiting for him to call for a ball boy to give him a boost :)

      An absolutely tremendous career by Adam Blay-sack (if you listened to IUP radio, you'll understand), great two-year performances from RT-E and AD (nothing against Porter, but even moreso for RT-E due to the injury he's dealt with practically all season), a great 1 3/4 years from Girbran (i say that since he came onto the scene late last year and missed early on this season),and a solid year from Austin! Regardless what had happened from January on or what happens from this point forward, THERE IS NOT A GROUP OF SENIORS I WILL MISS MORE THAN THESE GUYS!!!! Non-stop hustle, 110% effort, just about any of the 5 (maybe minus Austin) could play the full 40+ minutes when/if needed. 0-12 in a game? Don't worry, Blazek or Smith will finish 1-13 with that 1 being a 3 pointer to put them ahead with little time left or at the buzzer. RT-E or AD only finish with 4-5 points? Look past that at the 15+ rebounds they had. Austin had 5 TO's in 7 mins? Yeah, well he also had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. There goes a loose ball out-of-bou... WOW, did you see Porter just dive on that ball and save it to Dogan??? Clapping and cheering for themselves, one another and the rest of the team. "Roaring" after an And-1 play, helping opposing players up after a hard foul, standing up when Bailey/Gadson attempted shots. 5 seconds left and they're all yelling at Gadson to take a shot while the coaches are shaking their heads no and saying to just run the clock out... Gadson attempted the shot.. he missed, but had he made it... I guarantee you those 5 seniors would've been the first ones to the coaching staff saying "I'll take responsibility for it... it was my fault, not his!" One-for-all, all-for-one. Absolutely amazing!

      Extremely saddening to know it will be over soon... hopefully later than sooner! *fingers crossed*

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  4. Corey: Wasn't there the 103 to 100 game against Seton Hill in Double OT a couple of years ago with the miracle half court shot?

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  5. oh man, it may have been! that felt like it was forever ago, so I was thinking it was pre-Blazek basketball... but I am pretty sure you're right!

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    1. yes, you were definitely right! Adam's freshman year! That year Gannon surpassed 100 points once (the only time Gannon went past 100 in Blazek's 4 years here), they went past 90 four times (and only went past it once in the remaining 3 years of Blazek's career) and went over 80 a bunch of times (Blazek's soph year - 3x, jr year - 2x, this year once).

      Also while looking at it, Blazek's sophomore year he played 20 games, but only started 10 of them...? I don't remember him ever not starting... was he coming off an injury?

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    2. He broke his hand as I remember and was out for a few weeks. The 1st game he was out was the IUP vs GU game back in December 2011 when on the Women's side Jen Papich was also out that game, and Brittany Batts scored 28 or 29 points to lead the ladies to a huge victory that day.

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    3. ahhhh yes, i do remember this now! good recall Wensel.. thank you sir!

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    4. And for the record, Steve Piotrowicz scored the 100th point for Gannon on that December night.

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  6. Indeed, note that at last year's game versus Cheney (up at Junker Center), Girbran Smith was inserted into starting lineup. Since then, a good team became a stronger team capable of wins at NCAA tournament level.

    I feel this group is the "tightest" group since the 2009 team. What we see as far as everyone rooting for each other is the real deal.

    Not much else to say that hasn't been said. It's playoff time. (Actually, it has been for last 4 weeks.)

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  7. An unranked team will win the CIAA. Atlantic Region #5 Bowie State was routed in the semis today by Livingstone, 83-65. Bowie allowed 50 points in the first half.

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  8. Unless something strange happens in the PSAC tournament, the Livingstone/Winston-Salem State winner is essentially a play-in game for the right to face #1 West Liberty.

    Current #5 Bowie State is now on the bubble. They have a strong in-region record (22-8) but their strength of schedule is weak due to the watered down CIAA. At last check, their opponents' win % was 48.9%, well behind Gannon's 53.1%. Bowie has suffered bad losses to Shaw (10-17) and Virginia Union (7-17).

    This situation also puts pressure on Gannon, Mercyhurst, Slippery Rock, and every ranked MEC team (outside of West Liberty) to at least win one game in its conference tournament.

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  9. Millersville holds off Lock Haven in the PSAC first round first game. MU is now 16-13 in the region, which helps Gannon a little. You don't want a loss to a bad team and 3 games above .500 is way better than losing to a sub-.500 team.

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  10. Solid win for the Lady Knights this afternoon ... if you can go without a FG for four minutes in the first half, and then go without a bucket for the last 8:10 of the first half, and STILL be up by four, you're in good shape. Never really in doubt. Now off to Cal to try to beat the Vulcans for the third time!!

    Will it be a third quarterfinal against The Rock or can Boro pull off the upset? Stay tuned ...

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  11. In the Mountain East game of the day, #1 West Liberty rallied past #10 Wheeling Jesuit, 94-92. Jesuit led at the half 57-42. A guy named -- I'm not making this up -- Indiana Faithfull hit 2 free throws with 7 seconds left to give West Liberty the win.

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  12. Gannon will host Slippery Rock Tuesday. The Rock held off Edinboro, 64-62, tonight. SRU made 9-of-19 free throws while the Boro was made just 34% of its field goals. The most surprising stats was Edinboro winning the battle of the boards handily, 43-30. EUP grabbed 18 offensive rebounds to just 6 by SRU.

    IUP will visit Mercyhurst in the other PSAC West quarterfinal. The Crimson Hawks drilled Pitt-Johnstown tonight, 82-63.

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  13. SRU has lost a major rebounder in Brown. Still, a very dangerous team.

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  14. I was checking out the number one team in D2 Florida Southern when I noticed one of their starters. Stephan Battle second in rebounding and second in scoring to bad he did not stay. Surprised to see the assistant coach Ben Swank ex Edindoro.

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    1. Former Knight (and Battle high school teammate) Dtaynya "Bubby" Johnson has also started all 28 games for Florida Southern. Johnson averages 5 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes per game.

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  15. Did not remember Johnson checked and found he played a total of 20 minutes in four games.

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    1. He was a D1 transfer from NJIT who looked promising in the preseason then got hurt.

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  17. As we get set for the postseason, our other favorite team on this site won't be seeing any playoff action this year:

    http://siutigerpride.com/schedule.aspx?path=wbball

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