Saturday, March 7, 2015

Overlooked Starter Proves A (Tou)pane In Kutztown's Neck

When the PSAC awards were announced earlier this week, Gannon starters Adam Blazek, Girbran Smith, Raphell Thomas-Edwards, and A'Darius Porter all received various accolades. If there was a vote based only on Gannon's 69-56 whipping of Kutztown in the PSAC semifinals Saturday, ignored starter Jean Yves Toupane might have earned MVP honors.

Despite being matched up against PSAC East defender of the year Tyler Brooks, Toupane started aggressive and spotted Gannon an early lead on his way to a game- and season-high 17 points. When I looked at the live stats on my phone partway through the second half, Toupane had more points that PSAC first-teamers Blazek and Smith combined. Kutztown knew they would need Gannon's stars to misalign to have a chance to win, but because Toupane started scorching the nets, KU had no chance in this one.

While Toupane did the job on offense, stellar team defense as usual carried the Knights. The last few games, I've tracked how many points Gannon has allowed in 5-minute increments to see if they are allowing opponents and comfortable stretches. Here's what today looked like:
   20:00-15:00  3 points (7-3 GU lead)
   15:00-10:01  4 points (11-7 GU lead)
   10:00-5:01  3 points (25-10 GU lead)
   5:00-0:00  8 points  (32-18 GU lead)
   20:00-15:01  6 points (39-24 GU lead)
   15:00-10:01  6 points (49-30 GU lead)
   10:00-5:01  6 points (57-36 GU lead)

The Knights allowed a shocking 20 points in the final 5 minutes, but by that point the Golden Bears were extending the game through fouling and finally made a couple threes. (They were 0-for-9 heading into the final five minutes.) Ignoring that final 5 minutes, look at the consistency of that defense! And this was against a team that averages 76 points per game -- or 9.5 points every 5 minutes.

I could share many more thoughts about the PSAC semis, but as I write this the championship game is just hours away, so I'll just share 2 more of my cents with you:
1. When you combine the second half of IUP's win over East Stroudsburg (outscoring ESU 50-27) and Gannon's first half versus Kutztown (GU with a 32-18 advantage), that means the PSAC West outscored the East 82-45 over a 40-minute stretch.
2. Congrats to walk-on Cory Bailey for scoring his first points on the season. When the North East product connected on a 1-and-1 in the final minute of the game, the Gannon bench and most of the crowd erupted for the hard-working junior. With his work ethic, perseverance, and team-first attitude, Bailey will go far after graduation.

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 3/7/15 at 10:05 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), L vs. #10 Glenville State (MEC semis)
#2 Indiana Pa. [24-5]: W at #4 Mercyhurst (PSAC quarters), W vs. East Stroudsburg (PSAC semis), Sun. at #3 Gannon (PSAC finals)
#3 Gannon [20-8]: W vs. #7 Slippery Rock (PSAC quarters), W vs. Kutztown (PSAC semis), Sun. vs. #2 Indiana (PSAC finals)
#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), W vs. Wheeling Jesuit (MEC semis), Sun. vs. #10 Glenville (MEC finals)
#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), W vs. #1 West Liberty (MEC semis), Sun. vs. #6 Fairmont (MEC finals)
Wheeling Jesuit [19-9]: W vs. Urbana (MEC first round), W vs. #8 Concord (MEC quarters), L vs. #6 Fairmont State (MEC semis)
East Stroudsburg [19-8]: W vs. Millersville (PSAC quarters), L vs. #2 Indiana (PSAC semis)
[CIAA AUTO BID] Livingstone [19-9]: No games scheduled 

Locks (4): West Liberty, Indiana, Gannon, Livingstone
Likely In (3): Mercyhurst, Bowie State, Fairmont State
Fighting For The Final Spot: Glenville State
Hoping For Mercy From The Committee: Slippery Rock, Concord, Charleston, Wheeling Jesuit, East Stroudsburg


  1. This is more entertaining than important, but last night Cal Poly Pomona advanced to the CCAC (California Collegiate Athletic Association) finals with a 78-68 win over Humboldt State. Why does that matter to Gannon fans? That upped CPP's points allowed average from 55.8 ppg to 56.3 ppg, making our Golden Knights the Division II leader in scoring defense at 56.0 ppg. Enjoy the lead while you can. Kutztown averages 76 ppg.

  2. Stroud leading IUP at the half, 33-26. For IUP, starting two-guard Shawn Dyer is 0-for-6 while PG and PSAC West Player of the Year Devante Chance is just 1-for-7. Daddy Ugbede played just 5 minutes and picked up 2 fouls. Disastrous half for the Crimson Hawks. They should feel fortunate to be down just 7.

  3. IUP pulls away in second half. Two big factors: ESU's Whis Grant injured on last play of first half and did not return; ESU played "ole'" defense second half. Sloppy game for both.
    Has there ever been a Gannon team that hedges on EVERY screen like this squad? Their defensive effort is downright clinical. Andy Dougan had a strong first half off the bench, JYT shot the ball very well, and GU had a 40-23 rebounding edge. Exciting? No. Workman-like? You bet. Effective? Ditto. An effort like this one tomorrow and GU fans can probably plan for another great weekend of hoops at the Audi.

    1. Agree ... I haven't enjoyed watching a team play defense as much as this Gannon team. It's a truly special team.

      Do you really think that Gannon could pass West Liberty for the #1 seed and the host for the Atlantic Regional with a win tomorrow?

  4. Major upset in the MEC semis: Glenville shellacks West Liberty, 82-68.

    1. GSC certainly making their case for an NCAA bid. Wheeling Jesuit has its chance coming up in a few minutes. Agree that Fairmont is likely in, but if WJU beats them, both Wheeling and Glenville could make a case for at-large consideration over Fairmont.

  5. Jim: Could tomorrow's winner possibly be considered to host the NCAA regional?

    1. I really doubt that. I think the distance between #1 West Liberty and #2 Indiana is pretty big when you consider their entire body of work. Scroll down to the bottom of this page for the Atlantic Region Performance Index.

      As of 3/4, West Liberty had a 15.93, IUP had 14.87 and Gannon has 14.48. Gannon had gained a quarter point when it beat Slippery Rock and the Hurst lost a quarter point when they lost to IUP. So I don't see IUP able to gain a full point and then some on West Liberty.

    2. Thanks! I will scope that out.

      In light of this late afternoon's upset, and, in light of better facilities at both GU and IUP (IE: $$$$!!!!!), I was wondering if the NCAA might want to do some advanced math!

    3. West Liberty has hosted the Atlantic Regional four times in recent years; they seem to fill their arena. The only time that the #1 seed does not host this day in age is if the home court is not available for some reason.

  6. Fairmont just beat Wheeling Jesuit, 73-63, likely ending WJ's season and pretty much for certain extending Fairmont's into the NCAAs.

  7. So the way that things are shaking out, Gannon and IUP are battling for the #2 seed. There's also a chance that Gannon is too far behind IUP and may wind up with the 3 regardless. Reasonable projection for March 14?

    12:00 (3) Gannon / IUP loser vs. (6) Fairmont State
    2:30: (2) Gannon / IUP winner vs. (7) Glenville State
    6:00 (1) West Liberty vs. (8) Livingstone
    8:30 (4) Mercyhurst vs. (5) Bowie State

    I can see Fairmont and Bowie flipping as well.

    I was leafing through old blog posts from recent years and came across one in which we were hoping to beat Lock Haven just to make the PSAC tournament. These types of discussions are MUCH more fun.

  8. Interesting quotes from IUP coach Joe Lombardi in today's Indiana Gazette about Gannon:

    “Against Gannon, it’s important that you match their physicality, and you’ve got to match it in a lot of ways,” Lombardi said. “One obvious way is rebounding. One is post defense. One is getting through screens. Everything they do is physical, and it can get more physical depending on how the game is called.

    “And we have to play well offensively. We have to execute well, try to get second shots, and they don’t allow you to get a lot, so on the first possession we have to execute well and find our shooting touch. We really haven’t had it the past couple games, and we’re going to need it. We’ve kind of willed ourselves to a couple wins, and we’re going to have to have the same type of will with a little more skill in order to be successful in what is going to be a tough environment in a challenging game.”,21638134/