Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Overmatched And Overwhelmed, Not Overtime

After consecutive years of stomach-acid producing overtime PSAC quarterfinal home games vs. Slippery Rock, I was ready tonight for a cocktail of Prilosec, Zantac, and Pepcid washed down with cherry Mylanta. Sure, Slippery Rock hasn't been the same since two starters were suspended from the team a month ago, but history said buckle in for a sure to be bumpy ride.

What we got instead was a near perfection by the Knights, who out-everythinged Slippery Rock on the way to a 71-45 thrashing. The stat that jumped out at halftime was Gannon's 7-for-7 shooting chart on three-pointers. But it wasn't just hot shooting by Girbran Smith and Adam Blazek that keyed the win.

I noted that when Slippery Rock began making substitutions, the Knights led just 8-5. Over the next several possessions -- until exasperated SRU head coach Kevin Reynolds called time out -- GU outscored the Rock 12-5 with the opponents notching just one field goal. With two starters gone, the first subs for Slippery Rock were essentially their 8th and 9th players, a terrible spot for a school with just 5 scholarships from what I understand.

Slippery Rock had a chance to make a move in the final 4:33 of the first half when Adam Blazek picked up his second personal and joined foul-plagued Smith, A'Darius Porter, Rich Austin, and Matthew Dogan on the bench. At that juncture Gannon was up 34-18 and I wasn't the only Catholic in the building praying for the reserves to keep the margin in the teens.

Why was I fretting? The best Gannon player on the floor was Raphell Thomas-Edwards -- a guy essentially playing with one hand. The second best player was Jean Yves-Toupane who averages less than 6 ppg. Joining them were little-used Tony Boykins (1.5 ppg) and freshmen Daniel Kaigler (2.1 ppg) and Adam Holm-Weber (0.5 ppg), all seeing their first Division II playoff action. Instead of squandering the lead, that crew expanded it, closing the half with a 10-4 run to produce a 44-22 margin at the break.

The Knights sealed the contest when they emerged from the lockerroom a focused group. On offense they worked the clock and the boards, then gave up just three points in the first five minutes of play. They allowed on 12 points over the next 10 minutes of action, causing the Slippery Rock students to head for the exits.

I'm sure the Knights will be focused (and excited) to host the PSAC tournament this weekend, starting off with Kutztown Saturday. The Golden Bears, seeded third in the East, surprised #2 West Chester on the road tonight, 90-79, in overtime. I'm not into predictions, but I'll wager that Kutztown scores fewer than 90 against our Knights this weekend. Kutztown boasts some outstanding athletes including super-quick Cal transfer Tynell Fortune, super sophomore Josh Johnson, and hard-to-guard senior Tyler Brooks.

Sheesh! Gannon posts one of its most impressive performances in playoff history, and I'm already looking ahead? I'm sure John Reilly is doing the same thing. They didn't hand out a trophy after tonight's game -- just an opportunity. Let's hope the Knights make this a special weekend.

For the PSAC Tournament Central web site, click here.
For Gannon's web headquarters for the PSAC Final Four, click here.

Regional Rankings / Upcoming Schedules

UPDATED 3/6/15 at 8:45 PM. Rankings reflect in-region records as of Sunday, 3/1/15, and rankings that were announced 3/4/15.

#1 West Liberty [25-2]: W vs. Shepherd (MEC quarters), Sat. vs. #10 Glenville State (MEC semis)
#2 Indiana Pa. [24-5]: W at #4 Mercyhurst (PSAC quarters), Sat. vs. East Stroudsburg (PSAC semis)
#3 Gannon [20-8]: W vs. #7 Slippery Rock (PSAC quarters), Sat. vs. Kutztown (PSAC semis)
#4 Mercyhurst [20-7]: L vs. #2 Indiana (PSAC quarters)
#5 Bowie State [21-7]: No games scheduled
#6 Fairmont State [19-9]: W vs. Notre Dame (MEC quarters), Sat. vs. Wheeling Jesuit (MEC semis)
#7 Slippery Rock [18-9]: L at Gannon (PSAC quarters)
#8 Concord [20-7]:  L vs. Wheeling Jesuit (MEC quarters)
#9 Charleston [17-9]: W vs. WV State, L vs. #10 Glenville State (MEC quarters) 
#10 Glenville State [18-10]: W vs. UVa-Wise (MEC first round), W vs. #9 Charleston (MEC quarters), Sat. vs. #1 West Liberty (MEC semis)
Wheeling Jesuit [19-9]: W vs. Urbana (MEC first round), W vs. #8 Concord (MEC quarters), Sat. vs. #6 Fairmont State (MEC semis)
East Stroudsburg [19-8]: W vs. Millersville (PSAC quarters), Sat. vs. #2 Indiana (PSAC semis)
[CIAA AUTO BID] Livingstone [19-9]: No games scheduled 

There are a couple of very interesting matchups in the Mountain East quarters with #10 Glenville facing #9 Charleston and #8 Concord tangling with red hot Wheeling Jesuit (#10 last week) on Friday. Those could very well be play-in games for the 8-team Atlantic Region NCAA tournament.

Locks (4): West Liberty, Indiana, Gannon, Livingstone
Likely In (2): Mercyhurst, Bowie State
Fighting For The Final Two Spots: Fairmont State, Concord, Glenville State, Charleston, Wheeling Jesuit, East Stroudsburg. Kutztown and Millersville would need to win the PSAC tourney.
Hoping For Mercy From The Committee: Slippery Rock, Concord, Charleston


  1. What an enjoyable evening. Never in doubt from start to finish ... the first half was as complete of a half on both ends of the floor as you'll see this team play.

    I quickly perused the on-line media guide and I believe that this may be Gannon's largest postseason margin of victory in school history! For a school that's won this many post-season games, that's quite the feat. SRU now has to wait. It's very much in their best interests to have GU or IUP win the PSAC. A win by any of the unranked east teams would be devastating to their NCAA hopes.

    It will be a ton of fun having the PSAC tourney at the Hammermill! Can't wait for Saturday!!

  2. I got my tickets. A double blow out this weekend would be nice. Go Knights!

  3. John Reilly made an interesting point in his postgame talk with Jim LeCorchick. To start the year, Gannon and Slippery Rock played common opponents at Glenville State ... and we were all panicking when the Knights went 0-2 and the Rock went 2-0. It doesn't matter so much how you start but how you finish.

  4. Great game last night - one of the best I've seen top to bottom and on both sides of the floor. This team can play with anybody, especially when the offense flows like it did. ... "Mind like water".....Head down and keep pluggin'....

    I want to give a shout out to the wonderful Erie Times News on the coverage last night and in this morning's paper. Not one but two nice pictures of the Mercyhurst game and a fair article on the GU game. I really think the Times has it in for GU and has for a long time. That is one of several reasons attendance is down at the games. There is no hype from the paper anymore. It would be nice if there would be a 1/2 or full page in the Fri or Sat Times on the PSAC Finals: Pictures of players, projected line-ups, stats, etc. It won't happen - monopolies breed laziness. As a Times writer once told me when I questioned the coverage of the Greater Erie Charity Golf Classic one year: " More articles (on the players/tournament) won't sell anymore papers, so we don't bother".......

    Not sure too about the 1,517 listed for attendance (not the Times fault but maybe a typo! )....More like 700?......Are the students on break? .....Anyway, we'll be there watching and cheering - fun time of year.

    Go Knights!

    1. The articles were about the same size; the ETN sent a photographer to Mercyhurst, but not to Gannon. So what? Mercyhurst is in the PSAC playoffs, too.

      The GECGC was done by the mid 1990's. Please come up with an example from the last 20 years.

      Don't get me wrong, I wish that the ETN did some things differently, but I don't think that they have it in for Gannon. Gannon isn't the only game in town; there are also at least a dozen high school playoff games going on, both boys and girls.

      And I'll say it now, and as a Gannon fan ... if both Gannon and Mercyhurst make the NCAA's, the bigger story is Mercyhurst's first-ever NCAA bid in school history. Of the eight local men's and women's teams (GU, EU, Mer, Behrend), the 'Hurst men are the only team never to make the NCAAs. Gannon's bid deserves great coverage, but Manchel is making history.

    2. According to GU stat page attend was 1,112.
      GU MBK ave 1,098 GU WBK ave 617 = 1,715 ave
      MU MBK ave 443 GU WBK ave 360 = 803 ave
      Simple fact GU averages twice the BK numbers as MU.
      One might think their is more interest in GU ball then MU's. More interest sells more paper and more ads.
      Only makes sense to me. That's why we have better coverage of the Steelers over the Chargers.

    3. I think that the attendance was initially entered incorrectly on the stat page.

      Fanman -- Your logic indicates why there is more coverage in the ETN of Gannon compared to Cal Poly-Pomona. I don't think that the paper over-covers Mercyhurst. Gannon will get plenty of coverage in the upcoming week (and hopefully more as we advance in the tourney)

      I thought that the WBB Elite 8 had tremendous coverage.

  5. Students are on spring break but not too many show up anyway

  6. Girls moved up to fifth in the region but I think it will still will be close.

  7. Lots of honors today from the PSAC for the Knight seniors:

    The Gannon men's basketball team put three student-athletes on the 2015 All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Western Division teams released Wednesday afternoon. In addition, senior A'Darius Porter (Stockbridge, Ga./Woodland) was named PSAC Western Division Defensive Player of the Year. Seniors Adam Blazek (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Prep) and Girbran Smith (Nassau, Bahamas/Seton (Ill.) Academy) landed a spot on the first team while senior Raphell Thomas-Edwards (Leicester, England/The Gateway School) earned a second-team nod.

    Here's the complete release from the league:

    1. as much as I hate to admit it... Coach Manchel was VERY deserving of Coach of the Year.

      Wasn't Gannon picked to finish first this year? If so, that right there pretty much eliminated Coach Reilly from contention - they would've had to have gone undefeated for him to even have a shot.

      Congrats to AD. 2 years in a row, Gannon has defensive POY. Congrats to AD, Blazek and RT-E on their all-conference honors.

    2. In addition, how nice is it to see 3 local athletes/team members earn 3/4 of the top honors?

      Edinboro - Jaymon Mason, Frosh of Year
      Gannon - A'Darius Porter, defensive POY
      Mercyhurst - Coach Manchel, COY

    3. correction on my typo.. Girbran was on all-con 1st team, not AD.

      Also, have they always had 6 players make all-conf teams? I always thought it was 5 (since there are 5 players on the court).

    4. Good point, Corey. The all-conference teams should get a technical foul for having too many players on the court. :-)

  8. Not to take away the focus on the games and players, but the coverage in the ETN is dwindling year by year. I don't live in Erie anymore which makes it more noticeable when I do come in and read (rather scan) the paper. All they do now is cut/paste most of the stories off the internet anyway. Most of these are about police arrests and drug raids... The thing is fish rap....I bet there will be a huge color photo of the Bayhawk's games all weekend - and minor coverage of the PSAC final 4...

    Maybe they did this and I missed it, but wouldn't it have been nice to have an interview with Raphell Thomas-Edwards or Gibran Smith about growing up and playing basketball in the UK and Bahamas? Mercyhurst has a player from Cameroon and do something on him. Like the one writer said, more articles don't sell papers so why bother?

    It will be a fun weekend either way. I hope the ETN has some nice coverage to raise some interest but probably not. It's a tired group over on W. 12th St.


  9. Spring break or not, who would have ever thought SRU would bring more students to a road playoff game than Gannon?

    1. given the crowds this season, I'd not bet on Gannon having more fans at any game than the opposing team. Not saying they haven't or won't.... I just wouldn't make a wager on it.

  10. I know Gannon has played in lots of low-scoring games this year, but nothing like the DII Confernce Carolinas quarterfinal pitting #2 King University vs. #7 Limestone College. King won, 37-31, despite shooting only 25% from the field. Limestone's Asaad Woods was 0-for-11 from the field.


  11. By the way, what happened with the Livingstone women's basketball situation? They are still listed as #1 in the regional rankings. I thought that they had to forfeit (vacate, whatever) their games.

  12. The player who was declared ineligible appealed the ineligibility so it is being held up pending an NCAA ruling. This means that next year's tournament will be over and they will still be waiting for a decision by the NCAA

  13. MEC quarterfinal update: (6) Fairmont State defeats Notre Dame, 71-57, bolstering their NCAA hopes.

    Wheeling Jesuit stays alive by knocking off (8) Concord, 73-70. Not looking good for the CU Mountain Lions. The Fairmont State contest will be critical for WJU's hopes.

    I think that both of these results enhances Mercyhurst's chances.

  14. West Liberty beat Shepherd, 89-75 in a game in which they lead by as much as 25 points. Our good buddy Indiana Faithfull lead WLU with six assists.

    Glenville State leads Charlestown 12-5 early. GSU has tons of incentive to win because, if they lose, they have to go back to Glenville, WV.

  15. That'll do it for Charleston, 73-62 losers to Glenville State. GSC vs. WLU tomorrow at 6, followed by Fairmont vs. WJU at 8:15.