- Head: Basketball IQ
- Heart: Desire to play, desire to win
- Legs: Physical ability
I recall one time he assessed each player on our team in front of everyone else in the lockerroom, and this was my quick diagnosis: "Jimmy, you've got the head, and you've really got the heart. But the legs?," he said through an exaggerated wince. "If only you had the legs!"
Since we're through the first month of play this Gannon season, including this weekend's split in the Gary Miller Classic (a win vs. Le Moyne, 58-56, and a loss in Saturday's title game to Ashland, 75-59), let's analyze the 2015-16 Golden Knights through that same lens.
- Head (IQ): For the returning players, the basketball IQ is sky high on defense. They clearly know the rotations and frequently force opponents into contested shots. The newcomers are better than I expected defensively, but they have allowed more easy baskets and offensive rebounds than John Reilly is comfortable with. The defense is clearly ahead of the offense. Despite making nearly 53% of their field goals vs. Ashland, GU is shooting just 38% on the season through 5 games. And they turn it over a worst-in-the-PSAC 18.2 times a game, including some inexplicable point-to-wing miscues against a 2-3 zone. My biggest concern is that opponents have already figured out Gannon's offensive sets which is leading to forced passes and frustration. When Reilly calls in a play from the sideline, I often hear opposing coaches shouting what move is coming next like, "It's the double-screen!" or "Switch in the post!" If just one time the Knights would call "Shuffle" and run "Box" instead, they would blow the other team's mind. To me it's like how football teams disguise formations and play calls. If the defense knows the quarterback is going to pass to his left, the play's not going to work against a decent club.
- Heart (desire): Just when we thought last year's team set an unattainable bar for effort and camaraderie, this year's team matches that standard. At some point during every conversation I have with a Gannon fan about this year's team, the fan says, "they play hard." Crazy hard. Kudos to the players, but major kudos to Coach Reilly for setting the tone every year. Win or lose, he's building young men by pushing them to achieve max effort.
- Legs (physical): My biggest concern here is that the Knights appear to have many good players but no great ones. Last year's team had guys who weren't perfect but they were among the league's best in their specialties: A'Darius Porter (post defense, rebounding), Raphell Thomas-Edwards (post offense with either hand, rebounding), Girbran Smith (athleticism, outside shooting) and Adam Blazek (ballhandling, outside shooting, off-ball defense, on-ball defense). So far we've seen Kevin Kuteyi (9-for-18 on threes, Gary Miller Classic all-tourney team) emerge as an outside shooter and Isaiah Eisendorf muscle his way into a quality post player, but beyond that who's been outstanding in your eyes? Ian Gardener is crazy athletic, but he'll need time to develop his ball skills and college-level basketball IQ to make a major impact. I'm not saying this team is devoid of talent, but to have a winning season, players with extra-special skills will need to emerge.