Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Scouting Slippery Rock -- Sort Of

A little less than a year ago, I published a fairly comprehensive (though completely unofficial) scouting report on Gannon's first round opponent in the 2014 NCAA Atlantic Regional, the University of Charleston. UC was a member of the Mountain East, a conference we PSAC folk had heard little about and seen even less of.

I'm not going to detail a scouting report on Gannon's first round opponent for 2015 because that would be akin to me typing out the alphabet for you. You already know what the alphabet is, so no reason for me to follow that up with A, B, C, D, E, F, cut it out already!

Gannon fans are well aware of Slippery Rock because they've faced the Knights three times this season, including twice at the Hammermill Center. If you need me to tell you SRU fights to dominate the boards all game long while coach Kevin Reynolds works the referees even longer, you're probably on the wrong web site. (Usually I insert a "go to the Mercyhurst basketball blog joke" here, but they deserve more respect now that they've finally made the NCAA field.)

If you would like to dig into Slippery Rock more and relive some of the moments from the 2015 season, click away at these 6 links:
1. Gannon 64, Slippery Rock 51 (Nov. 19, 2014 - Erie, PA)
2. Gannon 74, Slippery Rock 71 (Wed., Jan. 18, 2015 - Slippery Rock, PA)
3. PSAC Quarterfinal: Gannon 71, Slippery Rock 45 (March 3, 2015 - Erie, PA)
4. Slippery Rock season schedule/results and team box score
5. This article is the only data I could find related to former starters Kelvin Goodwin (#11) and Cornelius Brown (#30) not being with the team. Neither has played since early February, but who knows if they could make an appearance in the NCAAs.
6. If you really want to dig deep into The Rock, here's the TV broadcast of their Jan. 24 win at California (Pa.).

I hope Gannon fans aren't still caught up in the PSAC shellacking of Slippery Rock a week ago and think a fourth matchup with IUP in the NCAA second round is a sure thing. Don't underestimate this team of fierce competitors. Forget about this year's PSAC quarterfinal and think more of last year's double-overtime slugfest.

Yes, Gannon should be a heavy favorite Saturday because they've been playing at such a high level lately and SRU is depleted. But the NCAA tourney highway is littered with high seeds who took their opponents for granted. Gannon is going to have to play well to survive and advance.

UPDATED 3/11/15: We've come a long way baby ... from 2-4 to the national rankings. Gannon is listed among others receiving votes in the latest NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) Division II poll. The poll is for entertainment purposes only, but it's fun to be included. Atlantic region top seed West Liberty is ranked #5 while IUP is 25th.

* The unanimous #1 in the poll is Florida Southern, which features two former Golden Knights in its starting lineup. Seniors Stephen Battle (13.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Bubby Johnson (5.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) have led the Mocassins to a glossy 30-1 mark. If you're looking ahead -- waaaaaay ahead -- Gannon and Florida Southern could meet in the DII finals. That would be both awkward and awesome at the same time.

* If you'd like to send off the men's basketball team before they hit the road to West Liberty, get to the Hammermill Center at 7:30 Thursday evening. Click here for details from the Gannon athletics website.

* Looking back at the Gannon schedule, three of the first four opponents the Knights faced this season
qualified for the NCAAs. GU faced Glenville, Slippery Rock and Mercyhurst between Nov. 14-22. The University of Charleston, who was ranked in the region until a late-season swoon, was the fourth opponent.

* Alderson-Broaddus, who Gannon lost to in the Gary Miller Classic Nov. 29, won the GMAC Conference tournament, but did not receive an NCAA bid. The GMAC will receive an auto bid next year. It warmed my heart to see that A-B beat regular NCAA cheater tourney powerhouse Kentucky Wesleyan.

* Speaking of Kentucky Wesleyan, they did not qualify for the NCAAs this year. Other typical postseason stalwarts and former national champions missing from the field are Findlay, Southern Indiana, Barton, Winona State, and Virginia Union. I know we've had some seasons that disappointed the Gannon faithful, but let's appreciate and enjoy this tournament run while we can. Several great programs are sitting on the sidelines.

UPDATED 3/13/15: Gannon's Adam Blazek has been named to the Daktronics All-Atlantic Region first team. Anybody want to argue with that? I didn't think so.

15 comments:

  1. Nice update here.

    I'm hoping the lack of postings so far is not a harbinger of attendance down at the NCAA's. Sadly, I recall after Gannon's men WON their initial game in last years tournament, no more than 15 fans showed up for a fantastic effort versus then #2 in the country, East Stroudsburg.

    Go Knights!

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  2. 453, If you read how the tickets are being handle in their 1200 capacity band box I have no idea how you get a ticket. You would have to be at West Liberty the minute they go on sale and buy the whole tournament package and the seating is first come first seated. Dan stated no tickets would be sent up to Gannon. What happen to "you have to set aside 100 seats behind each teams bench according to the NCAA"? We should remember this if the opportunity comes up and West Liberty has to come to Gannon.

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  3. Bob, now you see why I was asking for Divine Intervention from Bud Elwell the other night. Still going back to last seasons tournament, 15 fans was, to say the least, disappointing.

    Highly seeded or not, I hear West Liberty might rank as one of the WORST D-2 tournament host venues EVER.

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  4. Gannon fans should not worry about tickets for the regional. Gannon SID Dan Teliski sent me this info earlier today:

    West Liberty plays in the evening session, not Gannon's afternoon session Saturday. That session maxed out at maybe 300 people every time Gannon hosted a regional. They will have zero problems getting into Saturday’s game. We encourage everyone to come down to Saturday’s game and purchase an all-tournament pass to support the Golden Knights all weekend.

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  5. Do to "Have to" or "You better or else" order, I can not make any Reg tourney games. Evansville or N Dakota might open up for me. But I'll have my ear glued to the micro-chip air box.

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  6. Gannon wins the PSAC regular season title and the PSAC tournament and has one of the toughest schedules in Division II . . . but is nothing more than among "others receiving votes" in the poll?? Talk about no respect! Obviously, the NABC voters don't think the PSAC is much of a conference or Gannon much of team. I hope our Golden Ones make them choke on their poll. I hope this fires up our already inspired team.

    Hey, Division II, you just might be about to learn that putting a chip on the shoulder of one A'Darius Porter and Sir Raphel Thomas-Edwards is just about the dumbest thing you ever did. Know what else? We got Smith and Blazek. And you don't. That national championship banner is gonna look mighty sweet hanging from the rafters of the Jammermill!!

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  7. Jim: Dan sent the same info to me but if West Liberty has such rabid fans what stops them from purchasing the complete package for the whole tourney? This is what I did and many other GU fans did when we hosted any Atlantic Regional.

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    1. West Liberty averages only 737 fans per home game. You won't see 1,200 of them purchasing full ticket packages. I don't think that Gannon has ever sold that many full packages.

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    2. Drilling down into their attendance figures, assuming a capacity of 1,200, WLU hasn't sold out a game this year. Their largest home crowd this year was 1,090 vs. crosstown rival Wheeling Jesuit, who probably brought a few fans as the recent WLU at WJU game drew over 2,000.

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  8. http://www.bennettrank.com/collegebasketball/d2-mens-basketball-tournament-preview-breaking-left-side/

    Preview of the Atlantic Regional.

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  9. #6 Gannon women lose 81-76 to #3 Bloomsburg in their NCAA game today. GU led by 7 at the half but then lost the lead for good with a minute to play.

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  10. #7 Shepherd women just shocked #2 IUP, 68-60. IUP drops to 25-4 with the loss. Let's hope the #2 seed fares better in men's play Saturday.

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    1. That upset makes the GU loss hurt even more. I didn't think that they had much of a shot against IUP, a better team that is also a bad matchup. Against Shepherd, Gannon would have been favored to advance to the regional final to possibly play a Cal team that they already beat twice in 2014-15.

      And how about this statline in the 4/5 women's game -- West Liberty defeated West Chester 88-85 in double overtime. Kierra Simpson led the Hilltoppers with 12 points and a mind-boggling 29 rebounds along with five blocked shots. Simpson pulled down nine offensive rebounds and 20 defensive boards, meaning that she was one offensive rebound away from an unusual triple-double. :-)

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  11. How does a team who held the lead for 35 minutes have four fouls called on them in the first half and have 16 fouls called on them in the second half while the team playing from behind have 8 fouls called on them?

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