Monday, January 9, 2017

I Reilly, Reilly Like This Gannon Team

John Reilly won his 200th game at Gannon this week, and I hope he coaches here long enough to get to 1,000. Or 2,000. Or maybe 3,000. I know that's physically not possible, but I think that would be great for all of us.

Reilly just guided Gannon to perhaps the most exciting two weeks in college basketball history. After a pair of overtime victories to start January, the Knights won three games this week with two going to OT: Monday at Pitt-Johnstown, 105-97 in OT, Wednesday at rival Edinboro, 80-69, and Saturday vs. Clarion 110-104 in 2OT. The Knights have at least 12 more games to play, but even if the season ended right now, we'd have a bunch of stellar victories to reminisce about.

Heart-pounding wins aside, I'm a Reilly fan because he's assembled and maintained a program the Gannon community can be proud of -- free of embarrassments, arrests, academic chicanery, and preening, knucklehead players. He also pushes kids beyond their limitations. Take Jimmy Berger and Zay Jackson over these last five games. They've each played a total of 222 minutes (an incredible 44.4 minutes per game), and still performed at a high level. You don't do that without someone pushing you outside your comfort zone.

I know firsthand that Coach Reilly helps young men break new barriers because he was an assistant during my four years as a Gannon walk-on. I always took pride being in top shape -- I ran 6.2-mile races as an 11-year-old, and during my four-year high school basketball career was substituted for only three times. But Riles pushed me even further. 

When Bob Dukiet was named head coach at Gannon in 1989 after my freshman year, he originally didn't plan on taking walk-ons. And I don't know this for sure, but I'm fairly certain Riles lobbied Dukiet to keep me on the team. Riles asked me to visit the office over the summer to help stuff envelopes where I could also engage with Coach Dukiet. He also put me through a workout I will never forget. Riles ran the middle of the court, dribbling and passing, while I filled the right lane and shot jumpers and layups. We sprinted the full length of the Audi repeatedly until my lungs burned. 

When he slowed down and said, "OK," I put my hands on my knees. But he tossed me the ball and said it was his turn to shoot the ball and my turn to pass. I didn't think I had the energy, but we ran hard for the next several minutes before he paused again and said, "Left side now." If it was anybody besides my coach, I would have said, "No, man -- I'm taking a break." But we pounded up-and-down the wooden floor again and again for several more excruciating minutes, Riles leading me with passes and I could only catch up to at full speed. 

It's hard to say exactly what impact that workout had on my life, but I know when I was interviewing with the company who is now my employer, my soon-to-be-boss said with a laugh, "We know we don't have to worry about your work ethic -- you're the Energizer bunny." Riles also showed me during that workout that people don't work for you; they work with you and you better work with them. I kept running that afternoon because I wanted to keep my spot on the team. Why was he running? What did he have to gain from sprinting until the muscles in his legs were fatigued? He was doing it for my benefit. 

It was fitting that Reilly's 200th win came in a game where his team outrebounded the opponent by a wide margin (50-33) and Gannon's Damon Miraud set a career-high with and incredible 22 boards. For 30+ years, John Reilly has helped young men achieve their full potential.

Other observations from a wild week of Gannon hoops:
  • Matthew Dogan's game-tying, buzzer-beating three against Pitt-Johnstown is now available online via the Gannon Athletics Twitter feed. Just click here to see the well-executed play
  • Scroll to the bottom of this post to see my most embarrassing moment in Gannon Hoops blog history. I could have deleted it, but it will be a good reminder for us all to never give up on this team.
  • John Reilly's player rotation plan Wednesday against Edinboro matched my lunch plan for that day: one sub. Joe Fustine was the only bench player to see action, spelling Evan Phoenix for 9 minutes in the first half. 
  • Edinboro's shot selection against Gannon was similar to Donald Trump's word selection. While the Knights beat Edinboro's zone with a high volume of passes, shooting only after the defense was caught out of position, the Scots often attempted contested, off-balance shots after one or fewer passes. Jaymon Mason was 6-of-25 from the field while EUP posted a 41% shooting chart overall. Sad!
  • What's the deal with the warm-up shirt for Clarion's Manny Powell (pictured here)? He wears uniform #3, but his shirt sees it differently. #YouHadOneJob
  • This week's games saw two incredible shots for Gannon opponents. For UPJ, a line drive first half pass from the right wing deflected off Dogan's arm and ricocheted into the basket. For Clarion, Cameron Grumley ended the first half with a heave several steps beyond half court. We can laugh at those shots now, but had the Knights lost those OT games, we'd be sobbing.

UPDATED 1/9/17 9:43 PM: I watched the first half of tonight's Gannon/UPJ game but then the video stopped working. Sigh -- life as a Division II fan. So I followed the game via live stats and, upon seeing Gannon down three with 3 seconds left and needing to go length of the floor, figured this one was over. So I updated this post with what I thought would be the final score (see screen grab below) ... and then Matt Dogan banked in a 40-footer to tie the game at 87 and send it into OT, Gannon's third straight game with an extra session. The score in the headline now is correct -- the Knights win in OT, 105-97. The Cardiac Kids from Peach Street have done it yet again!


33 comments:

  1. Live streaming for tonight's game.
    http://www4.upj.pitt.edu/video/FLASHrtmpPlayer/PJIT_Player.html

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  2. Finally on the good end of a blown lead!

    Noteworthy - cal roughed up rock

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  3. Wonderin' if this 3-0 overtime run in one week is ESPN-worthy. Wow!

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    1. I'd say so! Only time in 73 years that it's happened!

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  4. Certainly pulled a rabbit out of a hat on that one. Wins like this can be season-changers.

    Also, Gannon broke an unusual two game losing streak in games when scoring 100 points.

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  5. I just heard from a very reliable source that John "Shanghai" Matthews has passed away.

    Sadness........shock.............

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    Replies
    1. Wow ... That's sad news assuming it's true. Could not find anything online, but it's a fairly common name. What a shot-blocker he was.

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  6. Hopefully we can come out with a win tonight ... it would really build on the Monday's big win. Any kind of a win is preferable to a loss, but it would be really nice to start fast, and hold a comfortable lead to make a statement to the league.

    Gannon is ranked #18 in the latest KPI's (out of 43 teams) before the win over #12 UPJ. Edinboro is ranked #37 -- very low.

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  7. Congrats to Coach Reilly on win #200 at Gannon! And it’s fitting that he achieved the mark in a most Reilly-esque way … playing four starters 40 minutes and playing just one bench player for one nine-minute stretch because Phoenix got into foul trouble.

    I usually disagree with these kinds of things, but it didn’t seem like any player was getting worn down during the game. It was a very slow-paced game, with Edinboro playing a zone for the entire contest and Boro’s offense consisted of dribbling around and putting up contested jumpers, which doesn’t require our defense to work hard.

    And credit to Miraud for 22(!) rebounds, along with seven points and seven assists. The best part of the game Gannon’s 1 minute 48 second possession from the 3:04 mark to the 1:16 mark when they got four offensive rebounds and passed the ball back to the perimeter each time. A great way to seal win #200.

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    1. I wonder when the last time 2 players for the Knights had 10+ assists in a game? Berger is essentially getting 10 assists every game, and Miraud and sometimes Jackson are up there too.

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  8. A video of Dogan's game-tying shot against UPJ is available on the Gannon Athletics Twitter feed @guknights. It's pretty incredible!!

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  9. (Repeating): Conditioning.

    Edinboro: Hands on hips, gassed, slumped shoulders (Mason included)

    Gannon: See above from "Golden": entire team out-hustling and going after long rebounds.

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  10. I wasn't at the game, but is Phoenix still wearing the protective glasses? or are they off now?

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    1. Yes, he was wearing the glasses.

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    2. Was it ever mentioned what the issue is? Obviously, we all saw him get hit in/near the eye, but I mean did they say if it was a tear of any sort, etc.?

      I'm assuming they're not prescription as he takes them off often during FT's (even when he wore them for FT's his % didn't improve, which is also why I am guessing they are just for protection).

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  11. Updated key-performance indicators are out through Wednesday’s games …

    Gannon now ranked 15th out of 43 teams, the highest ranking of the season … getting close to striking-distance of the top eight.

    The current top eight are: Wheeling Jesuit, Fairmont, Ship, West Liberty, IUP, Kutztown, Notre Dame OH, Virginia Union.

    Stroudsburg and Slippery Rock are 9 and 10. Gannon is the sixth-ranked team in the PSAC – sounds like a fair ranking at this point. Our schedule strength is ranked 30th out of 43 teams. The fact that our schedule strength likely won’t improve means that we have very little margin for error down the way – gotta pile up the wins.

    Saturday’s opponent, Clarion (4-10) is 32nd. Mercyhurst climbed to 25th. Edinboro is now 40th. Only lowly Cheyney, Bluefield State, and 1-10 Elizabeth City State are ranked lower than the Scots. ECSU’s lone win is a 27-point home win against tiny Mid-Atlantic Christian; these games are not considered in the KPI’s or the NCAA rankings – it’s as if they never were played. ECSU is winless for ranking purposes.

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  12. the rumor was confirmed... John "Shanghai" Matthews passed away Monday, January 9, 2017.

    http://www.yourerie.com/sports/sports/former-gannon-basketballer-shanghai-matthews-dies/640073654

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    1. Thanks for the link. One of the greats. Couldn't help but notice the crowd in that video too. Every seat filled and people standing three (and more) deep on the floor.

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    2. That was first thing I noticed too.. south side of the Audi had about 30ish people just in the corner standing!!!

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  13. Losing to Clarion 40-39 at halftime. If we lose this one, I'm putting the full blame on whoever called this a "guaranteed win."

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  14. Why was I so worried? We had 'em all the way!!

    What a zany, crazy game. A 110-104 game is high scoring, even by West Liberty standards. But a John Reilly team pulls this off? All five starts with 17+ points? The opponent making 18(!!) threes of 32 attempts and LOSING? Gannon hadn't played four overtime games in one season and they play four in two weeks? And win them all?

    This team is must-see TV. What will the Knights do next?

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  15. Stand corrected. Gannon TIED the schoolrecord for most OT's in a season with four. Still, to pull it off in two weeks is absurd.

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  16. The one thing I LOVED about this game was seeing the players learn from mistakes and adjust on their own. For instance, Dogam drove a few times and turned it over or got blocked because he ran into a forest of arms and all he needed to do was recognize the open man. On the one play he shook his head and tapped his chest (stating it was his fault) and pointed to Phoenix (who was wide open). Few plays later.. dogan did the same drive and when he got in he pump faked and bounced it to Evan for the open layin. That's just one os the more obvious examples but Berger and even Phoenix showed adjustments after errors. If this team continues to recognize that they made a mistake and there was an easier option not utilized... this team could really be deadly! It's one thing to have a good coach that can coach the adjustments and one thing for players to be coachable and understand the coaches adjustment instructions.... it's a whole different thing for the team to start adjusting on their own. Go Knights!!!

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    1. Jimmy Berger SMILES after a (rare) errant pass.
      A true gamer.

      --------------------
      This team deserves more fans. Period.

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    2. Yes sadly it's extremely pathetic that at a game that is free to all.... the crowd was announced at what? A little less than 1000??? Less than 1000 for a FREE game??!?!?!?!?!?! And there definitely were not 900 and some people there. Sad. Maybe someday it'll get back up there...

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  17. according to verbal commits Cyril Ogbuagu from riverdale Baptist Md has commited

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    1. Here is some video of Cyril Ogbuagu
      http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Cyril+Ogbuagu&&view=detail&mid=DF02B2E9F73EBC2E2E5BDF02B2E9F73EBC2E2E5B&FORM=VRDGAR

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    2. and another.....Alley-oop dunk
      http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Cyril+Ogbuagu&&view=detail&mid=E038F327168594624D99E038F327168594624D99&FORM=VRDGAR

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  18. My tweet about Manny Powell's backwards 3 on his shooting shirt was picked up by the UniWatch blog today in their daily Ticker:
    http://www.uni-watch.com/2017/01/16/chargers-say-never-mind-scrap-new-marketing-logo/

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    1. Manny picked up my photo on Twitter and let me know that he has a warmup shirt with the 3 facing the right way, but he chooses to wear the backwards one.

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    2. Glad we got that cleared up. :-)

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  19. Some updates on former GU ballers:

    LeMoyne (13-3, 8-2)
    - Isaiah Eisendorf - started all 16 games
    11.1ppg (1st), 16 blocks (2nd), 13 steals (T3), 4.8rpg (1st), 25.9 mins pg (3rd), 53.7% FG (1st), .400 3FG (10-25), 79.3% FT

    - CJ Asuncion-Byrd - started all 16 games
    9.6ppg (4th), 15 stls (2nd), 80% FT, 37.5% 3FG (24-64), 23 mpg (4th)

    - Daniel Kaigler - played all 16 (no starts)
    8.3ppg (5th), 22 blocks (1st), 4.5rpg (2nd), 60.8% FT (31-51), 63% FG (1st), 18.7 mpg

    Chowan University (10-4, 4-2)
    - Kevin Kutyei - started 12 of 14 games (came off bench last 2 games)
    15.4ppg (1st), 37 steals (1st, by 15), 43 asts (2nd), 80% FT (30-40), 40.9% 3FG (38-93; 1st), 29.4mpg (2nd)

    Bethesda University (7-8, 3-0)
    - Gabriel Adersteg - started 2 of 15 games
    8.7ppg (7th), 65.9% FT (8th), 18.8% 3FG, 44.6% FG, 22.1mpg (3rd), 4.5rpg (5th)

    John Carroll Univ (9-5, 6-2)
    - Sean Flannery (played in 4 games, 0 starts)
    0.5ppg, 2-2 FT, 0-1 3FG, 0-2 FG, 2.3 mpg (9 total mins)

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