Friday, December 30, 2016

Take My 2016, Please!

This is the time of year when most media outlets conduct a year in review of some sort. Seeing that Gannon was 10-15 during calendar year 2016, dropping to 5-5 this season after Friday's 64-57 loss at #21 Indiana (Pa.), I'd rather look ahead and on the bright side.

For starters, at this juncture a year ago, Gannon was just 2-9 and had only begun the PSAC West meat grinder. It appears the West is not the best in 2017, so this more talented unit has a legit shot at not just making the postseason but possibly hosting a conference playoff game. Giving me the confidence to make that statement is what's ahead for Gannon in the first three weeks of January:

Jan. 3 vs. California (3-9 overall, 0-6 PSAC): Cal is the only winless team on both sides of the conference by virtue of their Basement Bowl home loss Dec. 3 to Cheyney (1-9, 1-5). But don't be fooled that the Vulcans will be a pushover. Their last four losses have been by 4, 4, 6, and 5 points. That said, if the Knights fall at home to Cal on Tuesday, there will be panic in the streets of downtown Erie.

Jan. 6 vs. Seton Hill (5-5, 2-4 PSAC): Seton Hill has lost three in a row, all on their home floor. When looking at SHU's stats, the most shocking is that opponents are shooting 44% from three-point range. Zay Jackson might score 50 if the Griffins bring that type of defense to the Hammermill.

Jan. 9 at Pitt-Johnstown (8-4, 3-3 PSAC): After a slow start that included losses to Urbana and at home to Mansfield, the Mountain Cats have won three in a row. Leading UPJ is sharpshooter A.J. Leahey, who seems to be playing his 9th season at the school. Leahey ranks in the PSAC top 7 in scoring (21.7 ppg), field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and threes per game. This looks to be the most difficult game on Gannon's early 2017 schedule.

Side note about Urbana: they had likely the strangest December schedule of any Division II team in the country. They played three Division I exhibitions at IUPUI (109-67), Wright State (85-34), and Ohio (77-50). Their only games that counted were against teams that would likely struggle to beat Strong Vincent this year. UU thumped Miami University-Middletown (94-82) and Wright State University-Lake (104-50). But before you think WSU-L is the worst team in America, consider they demolished Kent State-Tuscarawas by 57, 122-65. My last comment on this wild digression is that KS-T has the least intimidating team photo in the history of college basketball

Jan. 11 at Edinboro (4-6, 2-4 PSAC): While following daily scores this season, I've said to myself on more than one occasion, "Edinboro must stink." After being shellacked at Shippensburg, 105-73. Losing at home to Damen by double-digits, 90-79. Following a home beatdown to East Stroudsburg, 107-70. When they gave up 102 points in a loss at Notre Dame (Oh.). The Scots have won two close games in a row but only because Cheyney and Cal were on their schedule ... and because they have the always dangerous Jaymon Mason (22.8 ppg). But, to be frank, they don't have much else.

Jan. 14 vs. Clarion (5-6, 3-3 PSAC): This is a guaranteed win for the Knights. Why do I say that so confidently? To date, Clarion is 5-0 at home and 0-5 in road games. The Eagles only have themselves to blame because their lone exhibition game this year was against alum John Calipari at Kentucky, 108-51. I wouldn't want to leave the house let alone travel on the highway after that. Seriously, if the Knights can jump on Clarion early, the Eagles haven't proven to be a comeback team. Their six losses this year have all been by double-digits, including Friday's 80-58 embarrassment at UPJ.

Jan. 18 at Mercyhurst (5-5, 3-3 PSAC): Speaking of embarrassments, Mercyhurst has been red faced after their past two games: a home loss to now 1-10 Roberts Wesleyan and a double-digit defeat at now 2-4 PSAC Lock Haven Friday night, 71-56. Not getting out of the 50s against that LHU club -- who Gannon handled, 81-70 -- isn't exactly confidence inspiring. DePaul transfer Durrell McDonald was supposed to be all-world on the Division II level, but he's scoring just 15.7 ppg on just 40.3% shooting from the field so far this season. McDonald has attempted 134 field goals while the next most shot-happy Laker has just 80 FGA.

So how do you feel looking ahead at Gannon's next three weeks? Hoping for 6-0 for a .500 team is too greedy, but I think 5-1 is a possibility and I'd probably be disappointed if the Knights ended this stretch 4-2. But I'd be more disappointed if I had to live 2016 over again.

10 comments:

  1. Just saw that there's no video webcast for tonight's game -- I'm guessing because IUP students are on break. Bummer.

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  2. With the way it ended - I think we're all lucky no video.

    This team just cannot find the way to finish games and it's so sad because they really are a great team. Hopefully 2017 brings them the ability to surmount a full comeback and finish out games like this!

    Happy New Year yall!

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  3. Drat ... so far, we've lost to the five best teams on our schedule and beaten the five worst.

    The new year brings two very winnable home games coming up. Gotta get them both in order to start making some noise in the PSAC west. Happy New Year everyone!

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  4. Looks like most of Kent State-Tuscarawas basketball budget is spent on meal money. Just sayin

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    1. If you read the fine print, that's a photo of last year's KS-T team. They might be even better fed this year.

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  5. Interesting comments attributed to John Reilly in the Indiana Gazette:

    “We’ve been a terrible rebounding team all year,” he said. “It looks like we’re good, but we stink. For whatever reason, we don’t want to play with any physicality. … I’ve always had great rebounding teams, but we don’t want to hit anybody. That’s what happens if don’t want to hit anybody, you get smashed on the glass. It’s huge.”

    https://www.indianagazette.com/news/indiana-sports/iup-basketball-hawks-beat-knights-with-physical-play-in-west-opener,25624034/

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    1. He's been saying that all season. On every coach show video, he's harped about rebounding and defense.

      I cant say I disagree though. Phoenix goes up "soft" on the offensive end and doesn't use much body on the defensive side. However, this could also be from being called for a foul any time he breathes on an opposing player.

      Also noteworthy is that Jair Green made his Gannon debut vs. IUP. I'm thinking he wasnt intended to redshirt but rather wasn't eligible until this semester due to his late transfer.

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    2. That's a little baffling. Going into the IUP game Gannon was 8th in the nation in rebounding margin. How is that a terrible rebounding team?

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    3. I took a "roadie" and attended the IUP game. This Gannon team is close...clean up some early fouling, better free throw shooting, a few better box-outs, and, things will turn for the better.

      Again, three seasons in a row, a brutal early schedule. I think a run begins tomorrow night.

      Happy 2017!

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    4. exactly as he said... "it looks like we're good, but we stink. For whatever reason, we don't want to play with any physicality..." How many of their last games were they outrebounded? And look at the number of offensive rebounds teams have been getting... I think that is what Coach Reilly is referring to - they're not aggressive enough under the hoop on the defensive side of the ball.

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