Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Short On The Court But Long On Effort

A wise business manager once told me an employee's true character is revealed between the moment they give their quit notice and the day they actually leave the company. Following that line of thinking, I continue to believe that a basketball program's true character is revealed between the day they are eliminated from postseason contention and the moment their regular season actually ends.

Now, you hate to have your team test that theory because it means they missed the playoffs, but that's where Gannon is this year. With one game to play, the Knights are now 7-18 overall, 6-15 in the PSAC, and finished with a miserable road record of 1-11 after smoking visiting California (Pa.) Wednesday, 77-68, then falling at Slippery Rock Saturday night, 65-57.

The Knights had nothing to play for this week -- they're guaranteed to finish 8th in the West and wouldn't crack the Atlantic Region's top 30 if they ranked clubs that far down -- but you couldn't tell based on the max effort they expended.

Tied at the half Wednesday, Gannon raced past the happy-to-be-mailing-it-in Vulcans over the final 20 minutes, hitting 58% of their shots while holding Cal to just 38% shooting during the same time span. Cal should be fighting to the death for longtime coach Bill Brown, who announced he will retire at the end of the season. But for most of the game Wednesday, the Cal players appeared they announced their retirement effective Feb. 1. Then in their next contest, the Vulcans went through the motions again, falling behind at Mercyhurst 35-15 at the half before succumbing 65-38.

Gannon also lost Saturday, but their effort was multiples of Cal. Wait -- I said that wrong because anything times zero effort equals zero. Let's say instead you couldn't tell by Gannon's effort Saturday that they were already bounced from the postseason. For a variety of reasons -- shooting 30% from the field was a big one -- the Knights trailed the Rock by 14, 57-43, with under 5 minutes to play inside a sleepy Morrow Fieldhouse. I actually packed my things expecting to watch Gannon's deficit balloon.

Instead I had to pull out my notebook to write down this hustle-filled sequence. Slippery Rock had secured the ball in the backcourt after a Tony Boykins miss, but instead of jogging back on defense, Gannon pounced. Ian Gardener sneaked behind SRU's Cornelius Brown and flicked the ball away. Emmanuel Matey scooped it up and slashed down the left side of the lane, handing the ball on the right block to Isaiah Eisendorf, whose layup attempt was blocked. Instead of quitting on the play, Eisendorf threw his body onto the floor in hopes of securing the rebound. He didn't get to it in time, but you had to like the effort -- and so did the Gannon reserves who rose to their feet to applaud the scrappy sophomore. The following possession, after stopping the Rock, Matthew Dogan missed a contested layup which was nearly tipped in by Boykins, except also crashing the glass was Eisendorf, who scored on his putback.

Down 14 late in a lost season, most teams have guys who refuse to cross midcourt. Gannon, instead, has guys who refuse to quit.

The Knights fought within 5 in the final minute, but they couldn't overcome the huge advantage Slippery Rock built in the first half. I didn't say "huge advantage" by accident. When the 6-foot-6 Eisendorf (Gannon's only legitimate big man) went to the bench with foul trouble early in the game, Slippery Rock's 6-foot-9 Cornelius Brown went crazy, handling the ball on the left block nearly every possession on the way to tallying 25 of SRU's 37 first half points.

I rarely can compare my daughter's third and fourth grade basketball team with Gannon, but here's my opportunity. The past two seasons, our team has been no doubt the smallest team in the league. (Note to self: Feed Evelyn more peanut butter). And over the 13 games our undersized club has played in that span, guess how many games we've won? If you said fewer than half, you're close. If you said zero, you're 100% correct.

I don't think it's because I'm a pitiful coach or because our team's skill is so inferior to our opponents. We're just way smaller; it's that simple. That's also been Gannon's main deficiency this year. I feel bad about it, but I'd feel worse if we had a team that fell short with its effort.

40 comments:

  1. Regional rankings come out today if I'm not mistaken. We'll have a much better idea of our NCAA chances for 2015-16. Call it a hunch, but I don't like our chances very much, but it's the committee's opinion that counts, not mine.

    Gannon has 17 losses; Cal has 18. This might be the most combined losses for any men's game in the history of the Hammermill Center. In 1991, Gannon hosted Mercy in the opening round of the MCC tourney. Mercy finished the year 4-23 and Gannon finished at 15-12. So it is likely they combined for 33 losses. Tonight will break that mark. Maybe we hosted Lock Haven late in a season?

    I have this down as an expected win -- Cal is terrible and I expect our guys to play hard, as they do in every game, but maybe a little moreso since Riles called them out for not playing hard in the Lemoyne game. Lose this one and 20 losses becomes a real possibility. Ugh.


    And don't forget about the 50th anniversary of the 6OT game at halftime. And the women's game means a ton -- first place and a shot to host the PSAC tourney is on the line.

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  2. Women's Regional Rankings: We're number 9. Tonight's game is HUGE.

    Rank School Overall DII Record In-Region Record
    1 Virginia Union 20-2 18-2
    2 West Chester 18-5 18-5
    3 West Liberty 21-3 21-3
    4 California (Pennsylvania) 18-5 18-5
    5 Wheeling Jesuit 21-3 21-3
    6 Shaw 21-5 21-5
    7 Chowan 18-6 18-5
    8 Indiana (Pennsylvania) 18-6 18-6
    9 Gannon 16-7 16-6
    10 Shippensburg 18-6 18-6

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    1. looks like the women will have to make a very DEEP PSAC push to crack the top 8 of the region. I feel if they can get to PSAC Finals (preferably against Cal) - win or lose they should be in. However, if anyone other than GU or Cal wins it... GU is probably going to be starting their offseason just shortly after the men.

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  3. Men's rankings. We're not ranked. No Edinboro, no Mercyhurst. MEC has the top three, which seems fair. The regional will likely be held in West Virginia.

    Atlantic
    1 Wheeling Jesuit 22-1 22-1
    2 West Liberty 22-2 22-2
    3 Fairmont St. 21-3 21-3
    4 West Chester 18-4 18-4
    5 Kutztown 16-5 16-5
    6 Indiana (PA) 19-6 19-6
    7 Virginia St. 16-5 15-4
    8 East Stroudsburg 16-6 16-6
    9 Concord 16-8 16-8
    10 Notre Dame (OH) 16-8 16-8

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    1. Surprised Boro or Hurst is not 9 or 10. No respect for NW PA.

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    2. Edinboro is 12-10. Not close to top 10.

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    3. With the exception of West Chester and more than likely IUP, any other PSAC team will probably have to run the table to make NCAA playoffs. I'm not betting against West Chester at this point.

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  4. Three things are certain tonight: (1) No 20-loss season (2) No last-place finish in the PSAC West. (3) Cal is abysmal.

    One other discovery: If Kevin Kuytei plays, good things happen. He may not be the most stellar defender or be the best at taking care of the ball. But his pure scoring ability more than makes up for these weaknesses. He's been responsible for at least three or four of our seven wins. Nothing else has worked this year. What the hey? Play Kuytei!!

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  5. It's kinda rare to have a "point-a-minute" type of player like Kuytei. Hoping he spends a lot of time in gym during the off season working to improve in areas of defense (getting through screens better/taking charges) and ball handling.

    Matt Dogan played another stellar all-around game. It's too bad that foot issues have hampered him most of the season. If healthy, he will have a very solid senior season.

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  6. I didn't attend the game last night, but watched a good chunk of the game via webcast. From what I saw, they seemed to be playing a much faster pace on offense. Now there were still numerous times it seemed no one wanted to shoot and that they chucked up a shot with 2-3 seconds on shot clocks - but this didn't seem to happen nearly as often as usual.

    Kuytei is definitely an explosive attacker and is a huge threat (when he's on), but he's also usually a source of several turnovers. Reducing those and working on his D a bit, he could be poised for a big senior year.

    Matey - where has this guy come from? He started off the season attempting to drive in and had some flashy moves and nice passes/finishes. Then fell off the face of the Earth. Then in the past few weeks has went back to being the flashy, explosive point guard we saw in the first few games (with a huge reduction in TO's). A few games ago he had 9 assists and 0 turnovers and I believe since then his assists have been greater than his TO's.

    Dogan - I would love to see him finish the season as strong as he has been past few games and especially to translate to next season. If he can give at least 75% of what he's done past few games, he should be able to transition into Toupane's spot next year smoothly.

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  7. No matter how difficult this season has been for us GU faithful, at least we didn't experience this:
    http://usatodayhss.com/2016/108-1-girls-basketball-rout-in-ohio-another-in-long-line-of-prep-blowouts

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  8. Did not see the game, but it looks like we had just a little trouble stopping Cornelius Brown.

    Loss number 18 -- a school record previously set by the 2006-07 team that lost 17 games. Leading scorers on the '06-07 team were Tyler Stoczynski, Aurimas Truskauskas, and Robert Buckner. Tyler, of course, would become a key member of the squad that would win 30 games, the PSAC, and region titles two years later. But he was the fourth option on that team, not the best player.

    Same concept for Toupane, Boykins, Eisendorf, etc. ... they are all fine players. But if they are your best players, it's going to be tough to be successful at the Division II level. Tyler thrived once he had other options around him (Goldcamp, Lindsey, Howard). We need better players around them next year in order to compete.

    And if tonight's score sounded sadly familiar, 65-57 was the same score in which the Knights were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA's last year by Slippery Rock.

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    1. Losing Eisendorf at the 17:12 mark in first half with his second foul opened things up, big-time for Brown the rest of the half. He finished with 25 first half points.



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  9. Well, this nightmare is almost over.

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  10. Reilly sets another record for futility, most loses in a single season.

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  11. One of the best interviews of the year took place this week when Minnesota's Joey King spoke after his team just beat Maryland.

    Worth watching.

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  12. Huh? Mercyhurst is very similar to Gannon size wise. Their one big guy, Biens, has barely played, just like Gannon's one former big guy, Thiero. Mercyhurst plays two 6-5 guys and a bunch of guys who are in the neighborhood of 6-1. So if size matters why is Mercyhurst in second place in the PSAC West?

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    1. Mercyhurst has 6 guys at 6'5 or taller; Gannon has 3 and 2 are perimeter players. Eisendorf is only inside big. Mercyhurst has more than one guy to post up inside Gannon doesn't.

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  13. John T. now holds the top two spots for most losses in a season. 17 in 2006-07 and 18 this year.

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    1. Thanks for the insight, but that's now been mentioned twice.

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  14. Mercyhurst has only two guys 6-5 or taller who actually get playing time, Hoying and Ajenifuja. Is there no end to the excuses the Reilly apologists have? If Reilly was 0-26 you'd still tell us what a great coach he is. The fact is he has the two losingest seasons in Gannon history. How many "mulligans" does this guy get? And there are very few fans left in the former Jammermill to witness this disaster. The half time honoring of the 65-66 team that played six over times was embarrassing. Very nice that Gannon would do that but very embarrassing that only a handful of fans were in the stands to witness it. I would love to hear the administration's rationale for keeping Reilly on as coach. It's never been explained and it sure isn't obvious or even rational to those of us who are apparently outside the inner secret circle.

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    1. he also has 2 of the best seasons in Gannon history. I get your point and everyone's points. I'm not a Coach Reilly defender.. I don't know the guy from Pete... I just look at the overall body of work. Yes, he has a handful of really, really bad seasons. He also has a few great seasons. Then he has some really good seasons and some, at best, mediocre seasons. Twice he's taken this program from worst to first and then beyond it. Coach Slocum always had good seasons; near or surpassing 20 wins most of them. Gannon was always a contender in the GLIAC. I don't know for sure, but I believe Coach Slocum never won a NCAA playoff game (if he did, it was maybe one or two). Coach Reilly already has him beat in that category by a few wins.

      You take the good with the bad. Gannon has had some awful seasons under Coach Reilly, but also has had some great seasons. The rest were anywhere from below average to good. With the exception of a few stray players, he always has a "clean" program (i.e. - players not in the news, causing trouble, etc.). The program as a whole is always an academic juggernaut and I believe the administration holds that very high as well.

      I'm not going out of my way to defend anyone, I am just looking at the whole picture. As stated before, if the program doesn't produce next season - then, in my opinion, a coaching search should be put in place.

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    2. The program is coming off three consecutive 20 win seasons. This is year four that happens to have several young, key players, several key injuries, and, a few tough breaks. All discussed pretty much weekly.

      Fans must think it's pretty easy to win 20 games or more for three straight seasons. Perhaps they should ask around up at Mercyhurst to see how easy it is to do.

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  15. Hmmm … Interesting question regarding expectations following 20-win seasons. Let’s see what history tells us.

    Gannon has won 20 games for a span of three consecutive seasons 11 times in the program’s history, the first coming in the 1983-84 season to the 1985-86 season. Before the mid 1970’s, GU played 25 or fewer games most seasons, so the 20-win campaign was more elusive.

    Of those 11 occurrences, the Knights won 20 games in seven of the following seasons. In fact, the 1984-1990 era (Chapman sandwiched by Fox and Dukiet) featured seven straight seasons winning 20 or more games. Dukiet hit the 20-win mark for another stretch of four straight seasons (1992-95), and Slocum had a run of five consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins (2000-04).

    Of the four occasions that GU did not follow a three-year run of 20 wins another 20-win season, the records were 17-13 (Dukiet 1991), 18-11 (Slocum 2005), 10-16 (Dukiet / Fox 1996) and 7-18 (2016 to date)

    So prior to this year, in all but one past occurrence, a stretch of three consecutive 20-win seasons was followed by a season with at least 17 wins.

    While runs of 20-win seasons are certainly not easy, they are the norm at Gannon.

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  16. Very interesting historical data. No one expected the Knights to win another 20 games this season, but an 'off-season' for Gannon should never be worse than 16-10 in my opinion. 20 win seasons should be a catalyst for bringing in new talent and sustaining excellence within a program. Twice under this head coach we have seen success followed by near total collapse the following season. Rather than compare our program to Mercyhurst or Edinboro, we should be looking at IUP or West Liberty as examples of year-to-year success.

    We all agree that this season has been a total train wreck. Old players, young players, whatever -- it has been a disaster. The last time I checked we ranked 298th in offense out of 300 Division II schools. No one can enjoy that level of basketball. This coaching staff, however has done enough in the past to merit another chance. Let's see what type of recruits they can bring in after the season and if this type of season repeats itself next year then I agree that a change is in order.

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  17. "Golden": Valid points. Both of us were probably there for every instance you referenced.

    But, I'm of the opinion the schedule is a bit more difficult now, versus then. We don't open with 5 or 6 straight home games, or 6 or 7 cupcakes. Or, begin the season with a league game on the road.

    A discussion board like this brings out opinions, and, by nature, some will differ. That's what makes it fun! Regarding the Slippery Rock game, I saw the same sequence referenced above....one would have thought that a playoff game was taking place.

    My feeling is that any inference to replacing any coach after three straight 20 win seasons and two straight NCAA appearances is pure nonsense.

    I expect a hard fought final game Wednesday night.





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    1. Hard to compare different schedules from different eras but the cupcake factor is always there in one form or another. Gannon can no longer open the season with a string of frosted treats but the cupcakes are still there, just sprinkled across the entire season. In a "normal" season California, Millersville, Cheyney, Mansfield, Lock Haven and Clarion would all have been cupcake games for the Golden Knights. In the new Gannon normal, apparently some years you eat the cupcakes, some years the cupcakes eat you.

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    2. Back in the day: Anywhere from 6 out of the first 8 or 9 games at home to begin the season, no?

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  18. The thing that is missing here from this argument...I believe...Gannon is at close to the top of spending for PSAC schools. If IUP are the NY Yankees of the PSAC basketball, then Gannon are the Boston Red Sox. SRU/East Stroudsburg are more like the Pirates/Indians.

    Jim LeCorchick was talking about SR recruiting the other day. Basically Kevin Reynolds states he doesn't do it. Just waits for players to fall to him who may be bigger risks.

    The unfair advantage that GU would have entering the PSAC was discussed at length when they entered. Greg Walcovich went on record stating it was unfair to compete against GU/Mercyhurst because of the spending (I'm paraphrasing here).

    I have no inside knowledge and if I am wrong with any of these insights, would someone please correct me?

    Anyway, it is this reason why my expectations for GU are high and why I never expect a season like this. I agree with Golden Glenn, a down year should be 16-10.

    If you are always competing with full compliment of scholarships. And...you're competing against other teams that don't spend money (even the amount of assistant coaches that GU employs)...

    And while the out of conference schedule may have grown more difficult, as gogannongo points out, the in conference schedule has many teams that regularly reside below .500

    Let's hope that there is major talent upgrade next year. They literally could have a brand new starting line-up next year. Nobody impressed me so much this year that they should be a lock to start next year.

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  19. I was reading some back posts of the blog...I came across this from the 2009 season...Golden89, who I think always has great perspective posted it...

    Golden89 December 6, 2009 at 11:08 PM

    Well ... let's hope things get better.

    My frustration is that Jerry Slocum was able to lose players to graduation and he was able to win at least 16 games in each of his eight seasons at GU. Yes, he did not win a GLIAC championship nor an NCAA game, but winning in the postseason was much more difficult in the Great Lakes region.

    And until the 1996 debacle, Dukiet won no fewer than 17 games per season. I think that GU fans just are used to a certain level of consistency. This season is rather bewildering to this point.

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  20. 13-14 avg scholarship vs tuition (in state-out of state)
    East Stroudsburg $2405 , in $8991 out $19115
    Boro $3302, in $8849 out 12701
    Gannon $9815, in&out $27546
    IUP /$5084 in $9080, out $20216
    Hurst $11036 in-out $30300

    http://www.scholarshipstats.com/average-per-athlete.html

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  21. I am more interested in basketball spending, not total "average per athlete."

    There are 100's of athletes that go to a Division 2 school like GU.

    There are a handful of basketball players.

    Does Gannon give a full-compliment of basketball scholarships?

    From my understanding...they do...

    Do other schools in the PSAC?

    From the way I've heard some other coaches talk...most schools do not...

    Did the 2 seniors...one a redshirt (2nd year with GU), one recruited as a senior who didn't play get scholarships?

    Is a scholarship at a private school just "free tuition", while a publicly funded school has to come up with money to pay the university for the tuition of their athletes?

    I don't think one can logically set expectations for a program, before we know the answers to these questions.

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    1. I agree with you. I just found that and figured it at least gave some support to the idea that Gannon and, moreso, Mercyhurst do give more in scholarship money, in general, than state schools.

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  22. this is interesting as to how rankings are determined (I'm assuming regionals too??)

    APPENDIX A
    NATIONAL TEAM RATING PROPOSAL ‐ NCAA DIVISION II
    JERRY KRAUSE, EASTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
    RANKINGS
    I. The weighted point system is designed to be an objective measure of a team’s achievement that takes
    into account the most important factors in college basketball; game outcome (W‐L), game location
    (home or away), strength of opponent, and level of competition.
    II. Team rankings will be determined by averaging the points accumulated according to the weighted
    point system; i.e., by dividing the total points by the number of counting games.
    III. The basic weighted point system commonly called the “Krause Kount”: is as follows:
    A win against a winning opponent away = 5 points
    A win against a losing opponent away = 4 points
    A win against a winning opponent at home = 4 points
    A win against a losing opponent at home = 3 points
    A loss against a winning opponent away = 2 points
    A loss against a winning opponent at home = 1 point
    A loss against a losing opponent away = 1 point
    A loss against a losing opponent at home = 0 points
    IV. Special point value adjustments
    A. Level of Competition
    1. Games with NCAA Division I opponents ‐ two bonus points will be given for all wins.
    2. Games with NAIA and NCAA Division II opponents ‐ basic point system applied.
    3. Games with NCAA Division III opponents ‐ one penalty point will be assessed for all games.
    4. Games with opponents who are not NCAA or NAIA ‐ one penalty point will be assessed for all
    games.
    B. Neutral court games ‐ these games are classified as home games.
    C. Forfeits are counted as wins.
    V. General principles
    A. A “winning team” is classified as such when its season record prior to a game is .500 or above.
    B. The point system is applied to all games defined as legal games by NCAA rules.
    PROCEDURES
    I. The point system will be applied beginning with the first game of the season and for each game
    thereafter until a ranking is determined.
    II. Each NCAA Division II school is responsible for reporting all counting game results (opponent’s record,
    scores, and game point value) to the NCAA national office as part of their regular weekly statistic
    report. To be considered for a regional tournament play‐off a school must have reported complete
    results for all counting games played during a season.

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    1. Regional rankings are done with a formula that weights overall record (throwing out games against non-D2 teams, in-region record, opponents winning percentage and opponents' opponents winning percentage.

      National rankings are a beauty contest; regional rankings determine who makes the NCAA tournament.

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    3. http://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/2011-06-09/division-ii-modifies-tourney-selection

      Link to the performance indicator formula.

      http://www.d2messageboard.com/showthread.php?78977-Performance-Indicators-2015-16

      This is the thread that shows the week-by-week progression of the performance indicators for the Atlantic Region. Scroll to the bottom of the last post for current rankings. Gannon is 36th out of 43 Atlantic Region teams.

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  23. Great recent posts to all.

    Yes, I remember the malaise during the 2009-10 season after a nice two year run. I think things are setting up for another, similar run as this season winds down.

    The effort we saw Saturday night at Slippery Rock is setting the pace for future success.

    I think we will see it again tomorrow night against a very good, seasoned cross-town rival.

    GO KNIGHTS!

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  24. When you look at the PSAC you can see why Gannon's rating are so low. The PSAC had only 3 teams out of 18 with 20 or more wins. The average record is 13 wins 12 loses not to impressive.

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  25. 3 seems to be about the yearly average though (at least starting with 07/08 season which is prior to Gannon joining)

    # of teams in PSAC with 20+ wins by year
    14/15 - 4 (all West)
    13/14 - 4 (1E, 3W)
    12/13 - 5 (2E, 3W)
    11/12 - 2 (IUP 1st in West, ESU 4th in East)
    10/11 - 3 (all west)
    09/10 - 3 (IUP 1st in West with 33-3, ESU 2nd in East 24-6, Kutz 4th at 25-5)
    08/09 - 4 (1E, 3W)
    07/08 - 3 (Millersville finished 3rd in East, Cal & Boro 1&2 in West) *Gannon in GLIAC
    07/08 GLIAC - 3 (GVSU 36-1, Gannon 26-5, Findlay 28-5)

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