Stroud is very good, and the Knights lost to them. Bowie is just okay, and the Knights handled them. Now 5-3 on the year, Gannon's three losses have been to ESU (now 7-3 overall, 5-0 in the PSAC East), Ohio Dominican (6-3, 2-2 GLIAC), and at West Chester (4-5, 3-2 PSAC). None of those losses are shameful, but none of the wins have been giant confidence-boosters. Lock Haven (5-4, 1-4 PSAC), Bloomsburg (3-5, 0-5 PSAC), Bowie (4-5, 1-0 CIAA), Cheyney (1-8, 1-4 PSAC), and Lake Erie (1-10, 1-3 GLIAC) ain't exactly murder's row.
Gannon isn't 2-6 like last year at this point (whew!), but they also haven't performed well enough to be considered among the elite in the Atlantic Region (nuts!). The best part of all this is that the Knights have shown potential to be really good.
Before running out of gas late in the second half against Stroud, they were stride-for-stride with a veteran club, one of top teams in the conference. I believe if the Knights and the Warriors meet again this year -- I'd love to see that in the PSAC finals -- GU would have a better shot at pulling out a win. They broke John Wooden's rule to "be quick but don't hurry" Saturday, pressing at times when they had already beaten the Stroud pressure, taking a quick, off-balance shot or driving into traffic to commit one of their 26 turnovers.
I'm not thrilled; I'm not disappointed. I'm definitely hopeful for better things to come.
Other thoughts from this week in Gannon basketball:
- Talking with a longtime Gannon fan before Saturday's contest, I said I see no problem with a college kid playing 40 minutes a game. Adam Blazek did it for four years, Jimmy Berger has essentially done that since he broke into the starting lineup, and kids have been playing for hours at a time since Dr. Naismith hung a peach basket. But the Stroud game was different because of their full-court pressure. In half-court games, everyone gets to jog down the court between possessions while the point guard walks the ball down the floor. But ESU's press resulted in no breathers, so physically it felt like a 60-minute game for the players.
- John Reilly has been praised for being an excellent defensive coach, but give the guy credit for his offensive game plan adjustments this week. The Knights scored 81 points each game because of a motion-based offense (fewer predictable set plays) and thanks to a variety of press breakers that lit up Stroud for 50 points in the first half. I counted at least three different press breaker patterns that led to layups and kick out threes.
- In past years, Gannon fans have become accustomed to patient, half-court wrestling matches where teams struggled to attempt a field goal before the shot clock expired. But this week's games reminded me of Electric Football on the hardwood; in a word, frenetic.
- I haven't talked about him much this season, but I really like Gannon's Damon Miraud. The guy guards every position -- quick ballhandlers, high-flying off-guards, flashy small forwards, and even muscular post men -- and defends them well. Miraud had a breakout offensive game vs. Bowie State with 19 points (on 8-for-11 shooting) and 9 rebounds. And the guy looks like a science experiment that mixed the DNA of former Knight Dave Wilson, a 6-foot-7, high-energy forward, and comedian/actor Jamie Foxx. I'm just sayin'.