Saturday, December 3, 2016

WhataBerger Is Great, But Give Dogan His Due, Too

Matt Dogan photo courtesy Gannon University
This weekend's breakout games by freshman point guard Jimmy Berger have Gannon fans buzzing. Berger earned his first starts of his college career and navigated Gannon to a pair of impressive double-digit wins over PSAC East foes Lock Haven on Saturday, 81-70, and Bloomsburg Sunday, 79-66.

Berger had barely dented the stat sheet in GU's first four games, tallying just 11 points (2.8 ppg) on 3-for-11 shooting (1-for-7 on threes) in 18 minutes of action per contest. His first half against Lock Haven wasn't much more helpful: 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 1 assist because 2 personal fouls limited him to 6 minutes of action.

But when LHU laid off him in the second half, Jimmy the Kid went off. He hit all four of his field goal attempts, three of them three-pointers in a span of four Gannon possessions, and dished out two more assists. Against Bloom he was even better, never wearing down despite 38 minutes of action in a physical, high-intensity contest. Despite scoring just 4 points, Berger recorded a double-double with 12 assists (vs. just 2 turnovers) and 10 rebounds, not to mention a resounding blocked shot that brought the Gannon bench to its feet (and nearly made this former Gannon benchwarmer leap out of his seat as well).

But enough about the freshman; I'm comfortable he'll earn himself more ink in the future. Gannon's best player this weekend was Matt Dogan, the do-it-all senior looking his best ever in a Golden Knight uniform. He produced 17 points, 10 rebounds (6 offensive), 4 assists, and 2 steals in 39 minutes vs. Lock Haven and then 25 and 4 (all on offense) plus 4 assists in another 39-minute effort against Bloom.

But what Dogan does for the Knights goes beyond the stat sheet. Here are all my notes on Dogan from watching this weekend's games:
  • assertive, vocal, aggressive with the ball
  • runs the lanes then attacks the basket
  • physical
  • playmaker -- penetrate and pass
  • taking charges
  • getting offensive rebounds without position
  • feeds the post
  • crafty finisher -- intentionally bumped into opponent's shoulder
  • Family cheers wildly, father stoic -- love it. (Hey, I said I was sharing all my Dogan-related notes.)
This was a kid whose stock was declining as a junior. He started 7 of the first 8 games last year but then saw limited reserve action the rest of the way, shooting under 39% from the field for the third consecutive season. But now he's in total control, taking (and making) good shots, exploiting the defense's gaps, moving the ball, and directing the cast of new players around him. Adapting to John Reilly's defend-or-die-trying system isn't easy; but one reason it's working with mostly new players through six games is Dogan's not-so-subtle leadership through both words and example.

I recently read an insightful book titled The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph. "Whenever we face a struggle, we have a choice," author Ryan Holiday writes. "Will we be blocked by obstacles, or will we advance through or over them?" I thought of that book at lot this weekend at the Hammermill. The top players for each opponent, Lock Haven's electric freshman Amir Hinton and Bloom senior sharpshooter Christian Mortellite, became visibly frustrated when they faced 40 minutes of adversity in the form of Gannon's relentless defense.

Both forced terrible shots in in the second half, and Mortellite drew a technical that sent him to the bench for the evening. Their teams also lost their composure and collapsed around their leader. Meanwhile, Dogan, who never slumped his shoulders and just worked hard through three years of adversity, kept making plays -- and making his teammates better.

"The world is constantly testing us," writes Holiday. "It asks, Are you worthy? Will you stand up and show us what you're made of?" Matt Dogan has answered both those questions with a resounding yes.


  1. Good win for Gannon, loving those treys from Berger. Serve 'em up. Could be a big turning point if Berger stays in lineup as teams weren't even guarding Matey at the point. Coming out party for Miraud and Dogan continues to impress.

    What's up with Lock Haven? Two starters sat out the first eight minutes. Not that it mattered as LH played worse when they came in. They actually seemed to disrupt the flow. Also think LH's 5-1 record coming in was misleading. Three wins against teams from the US Collegiate Athletic Association, whatever that is, and one win against an NAIA school. They did beat Seton Hill but lost to IUP.

    1. They were benched for non compliance with team rules. Heard a few of their followers talking.

  2. Notes
    - Hurst best tomorrow's for, Bloomsburg, 74-68
    - Boro got KILLED by Strouds by 37 points
    - rock used all 40 minutes to down west Chester at the buzzer, 71-69
    - UPSET ALERT! 12th ranked IUP suffers their first loss.... at HOME.... to SHIPPENSBURG... 80-87.
    - FOLLOW UP! Shippensburg is off to their best start in history as they improve to 6-0. Their schedule is pretty supportive to it. Crushed 2 PSU branches, booted rock by 20, embarrassed Boro 105-73 and then beat Wilmington (DE) by 16.

  3. So Berger finished a few points shy of a triple double.... anyone know who/when the last one was? The only other one I am recalling (of somewhat recent memory) was either Javar Cheatham or Kamara Mintz. I believe it was Cheatham, but definitely one of them.

    Anyone more recent? I don't think blazek ever had one...?!

  4. I think that Javar Cheatham in 2001 was still the last player to get a triple-double. He also had another game in which he had 20 assists.

  5. Interesting game today. Two wins over mediocre-to-decent teams. Surely last year's team wouldn't have swept the weekend. Other recent Gannon squads would have won one or both games in routs.

    Dogan's offensive turnaround hast been incredible. Miraud and Berger are rebounding machines. I wonder who was the last GU player to get a double-double without scoring 10 points.

    This team is incredibly efficient on offense, but needs to avoid turnovers. In the final eight minutes of the first half, GU turned the ball over six times as Bloomsburg got back into the game. There was one point midway through the second half when Bloomsburg had 19 points off turnovers to Gannon's three and Gannon was up by 7! Then Gannon turned on the defense, Bloom lost the ball a couple of possessions in a row and ultimately lost their collective minds.

    This year's team is way more fun to watch compared to last season, but is still prone to major offense lapses during the game. It should be enough to beat many of the mediocre to decent teams on the schedule. But it has to clean up the turnovers to challenge the top teams in what is looking to be a very worse-than-average PSAC west.

    Last point ... the starting five is very good, but playing them during the entire second half isn't going to work in the long term. They won't last to February.

  6. of your best column's yet. Watching how Matt Dogan has risen to the challenges of his first three years at Gannon is something we can all get fired up about.

    Great ball movement the entire weekend. Two really nice wins. Let's keep going!!

    1. Great point about the ball movement. It seems Gannon went away from using set plays this weekend to more of a motion offense with lots of on-ball screens and reads by the players. Averaging about 80 ppg for the weekend proved that it was the right tactic.

  7. although the loss of the nice lead in the first half along with the subpar play during that stretch and into the beginning of the 2nd half was disappointing, their ability to again extend the lead and run away with the game at the end was extremely encouraging. Teams in the past that blow a lead have found themselves losing the lead and ultimately losing the game. This team has shown a great resilience to keep themselves in the game regardless of the scenario - which is a HUGE key for a "younger" team.


    January 18, 2000 vs. Ferris State
    at Gannon 89, Ferris State 80
    Javar Cheatham FG 3-5, 3FG 0-0, FT 14-16, REB 10, 20 PTS, 14 ASTS, 4 TOs, 4 STEALS
    20 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists, 4 steals... just 4 TO's.

    He had 20 assists in a game that same year and he eclipsed 14 or more in a game 6x and reached double digit assists 11 times.

    His season statline is:
    35.6 min per game (1st on team)
    48.2 FG% (4th on team; excluding a kid that plays in 8 games)
    21.2 3FG% (essentially last on team)
    74.7 FT% (3rd)
    12.8 PPG (3rd)
    6.1 REB PG (2nd)
    9.4 AST PG (1st)
    87 STLS (1st)
    4 BLOCKS (T-5th)

    1. Minor correction, but Cheatham's triple double was January 18, 2001. Unforgettable game.

  9. Haha I just realized the site has the wrong date. I read your comment and I'm thinking "i just copied and pasted.... how'd I need that up?" But site had 2000.

    I did not remember him being THAT good. I knew he was good but when I saw he was 3rd in scoring and 2nd in boards... I would've never guessed that. Too long ago! :(

  10. Dogan named PSAC West player of the week while Berger tabbed West top freshman.

  11. Congrats to Dogan and Berger. I'll put some cash on the fact that this won't be Berger's only FoW this season.

    The Berger writeup was interesting ... He is the first Gannon player to have 12 or more assists since the 2006-07 season (Joe Lindsey). No Gannon player ever had 12+ assists in 10 seasons? That's shocking. I'm not questioning the accuracy of that figure ... it's a testament to the fact that our games are very low-scoring (fewer hoops = fewer assists) and that Reilly's teams are built more around rebounding than setting players up. Hopefully the great ball movement we saw this weekend will continue and we'll see more assists (and more points as a consequence).

    It also stated that Berger was the first player since at least 2001-02 (game-by-game boxes prior to 2002-03 are not available online) to achieve a double-double without scoring 10+ points. It's extremely likely that Jimmy B is the first GU player to have double figures in both rebounds and assists since the aforementioned Javar Cheatham triple-double game.

    Speaking of Cheatham, he was terrific. In my GU-watching days (mid-80s to present), the two best "pure" point guards were Juan Rodriquez and Javar Cheatham, without question.

    1. The lack of shots is definitely an ingredient to the low player assists, however, I feel two other things are to attribute as well: 1) we've not had any real "great" true point guards since Cheatham. Kamara Mintz followed him, but wasn't anywhere near the level of Cheatham or Lindsey. Blazek ran the point, but he was definitely more of a scorer than a point guard. Even Lindsey, who played great at the point, wasn't a "true" point guard in the sense that he didn't create as many opportunities as he more or less just found the open guy (the scorer created the opportunity). The second thing... the teams have had better passers all around. Yes, they have a ton of turnovers, but looking at the 06-07 crew with Goldcamp, Howard, Stosh, Lindsey, Knight, etc. They all nabbed a few assists per game as they may have been the most unselfish Gannon team I can remember. And this year's team seems to be similar... they look for the better shot before considering their own shot (which to some extent is a fault).

      Highly agreed though about Berger getting more accolades throughout the season. Maybe he'll start our string of FoY players again :)

  12. (5-4) Youngstown St at (5-4 ) Michigan St, 7pm ESPN(U) this evening.

    1. normally I'd be excited to get to watch "any" team against my Spartans... especially a Coach Slocum-led team... however, with the way Sparty's been playing.... ugh! The Penguins could waddle their way to an upset...

    2. Guessing a nice teevee check to YSU is involved as well.

  13. What's up with Ian Gardner? Most people had him penciled in as a starter. Is everybody else that much better or is he injured? Or worse, is he in the coach's doghouse? If it's the latter, he's in for a long season. That doghouse has no exit door. Ask Kevin Kuteyi.

    1. I think he's just not in the rotation. Although he seemed to shine last year, there was really no other light around him so we don't know if his brightness was him or more the lack of "them".

      He's played in a few games (garbage mins), so I doubt injury. I really think with all the newbies as well as Dogan's emergence, Jones' use as a SG/SF and Williams' ability to play both as well... I feel he'll be counting the splinters this season.

    2. i'm starting to wonder if Gardener is in the dog house...?! The coaching staff never even looked to put him in last night... Fustine played a few mins during the real action and then Matey & Fustine went in with about 2 mins left. Kerr went in with 25 seconds left. Gardener never left his seat...