Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wasted Week

The most optimistic Gannon fans entered this week hoping that the Knights, seemingly ranked #11 in the Atlantic Region, could position themselves to sneak into the NCAAs as an eight seed. More realistic fans thought that with Gannon already slotted as the PSAC West second place team, John Reilly should use this week's games like exhibitions, resting his starters and gaining experience for his bench. And everyone was in agreement that with Gannon facing struggling Edinboro and skidding Slippery Rock, the Knights should come away with at least one win no matter who earned minutes.

Instead, we got none of the above.

Gannon wasted double-digit leads both games, collapsing in the second half Wednesday at home to Edinboro, 78-77, before getting shoved around at Slippery Rock Saturday, 71-67. The bench scored only four points at SRU, two field goals by hustling freshman Hans Burwitz who hadn't scored since Jan. 6. But that was better than Wednesday's bench production: 10 combined minutes played with zero shots attempted. I mean Edinboro's Jaymon Mason scored four points on one possession during the Scots' surge Wednesday night. Sigh.

One thing about college basketball is that the season is so long you can't fake who you are. After 25 games, the Knights are neither good or bad; they're just fair. At times they're brilliant on offense, but too often they commit a flurry of turnovers or can't create a good shot. On defense, they'll clamp down on their opponent for spurts then other times (see Edinboro Wednesday) let their foe get comfortable and score in bunches.

I'd go as far to say Gannon is essentially a .500 team who willed/scrambled their way to an improbable eight-game win streak in the middle of the year. Think of where Gannon would be if there were ties instead of overtimes in PSAC play. Instead of being 16-9, the Knights would sport a record of 11-9-5 ... which is essentially a .500 team (and a soccer team at that).

My biggest fear now is that with Gannon losing four of its last seven, they Knights are off track heading into the season finale and postseason. Let's hope in a week they don't waste the opportunity to get well against Mercyhurst.


  1. Regional rankings just released -- Gannon not in top 10. My guess is that GU is #10 in "forumula," but head-to-head with #10 East Stroudsburg cost us the 10th spot.

    1. Fairmont 2. Ship 3. IUP, 4. West Lib 5. Kutztown, 6. Wheeling Jes, 7. V Union, 8. VA State, 9. Shepherd, 10. East Stroudsburg.

    Going to be tough to make the top 8 at this rate. Looks like lots of space between 8 and 9. Gotta win the PSAC.

  2. Lemoyne ranked #1 in the East Region. Former Gannon players have the inside track to have the regionals at Henninger Athletic Arena.

  3. PSAC West goes 4-deep in women's top 8.

    Cal 1, IUP 4, Boro 5, Mercyhurst 7.

  4. got a chuckle out of this... on the d2 homepage it talks about how northwest is the only unbeaten team in d2, however, it is worded "Northwest remains the only team in Division 2 basketball". Well looking at their record and scores, they kind of are playing as if they are the only team in Division 2 basketball :)

  5. Replies
    1. not at all. It's been like this all season. I would say Seton Hill, who did the same thing, is somewhat comparable to Edinboro... fitting they both did it.

  6. Another big lead blown !!! When will they stop "using clock" and run their offense????? Using the clock is great with a minute or two left but not almost the entire second half. Really frustrating to see the over and over and over !!!!

  7. Jaymon Mason sure loves playing on Gannon's court. Burned us last year too. Throw in some tired legs and it spells a big fat L! Couldn't get a picture but it sounded on the radio like the Boro wanted it more in the second half. Won't be any easier at the Rock, IMO.

  8. Not since the November election has such an overconfident participant lost to such an unlikely contender. More than one Gannon fan was heard calling for Reilly's firing on the way out of the Mill. That won't happen, ever, of course. But can't blame the fans for hoping. When Edinboro only has seven players why do you not take advantage of that mismatch instead of keeping your starting five on the floor for nearly the entire game? Why do you slow down your offense, one that scored at will against a defense the likes of which we haven't seen since the last NBA All-Star game? How do you not know Jaymon Mason is going to take every shot down the stretch? And if you do know, how do you have no defense set up to stop him? Or at least make it a challenge for him? Break a sweat? Mason looked like he was shooting around in somebody's driveway.

    Good knight, NCAA bid.

    1. That comeback was so impossible that I wouldn't be surprised if the Russians were involved.

  9. There's no sense blaming Reilly. He's never going to change his coaching style of playing his starters for nearly the whole game. Either you accept it or you don't. Those who accept it will continue to support his strategies on this blog and still buy a ticket to the games. Those who don't will stay home. I think there are plenty of people on both sides of the issue. Overall better than last year but still very frustrating.

  10. At what point does the coaching staff shoulder any responsibility? Losing games down the stretch isn't a new trend.

  11. Gannon looked exactly the same both halves. They may have been tired, but they didn't appear any different than they did in the first half. The biggest thing I noticed different - Edinboro started making shots. I watched it on my TV and went back and watched different parts of the game... Gannon looked no different from half to half. One very obvious thing I did notice different was that in the 2nd half, Dogan ended up on Mason half the time. In the first half, Berger, Jackson & Miraud were the primary defenders on him - 2nd half most of the time was Dogan. I don't know if that was intentional or if they did it with the thought that Mason was going to keep making shots so defend the others more to keep it just on him, but that was a HUGE difference. 2 fouls on Dogan that, to me, helped change the game for Edinboro.. 1) fouled Mason on a made 3 pointer that led to a 4 point play and 2) Edinboro had 2 seconds left on the shot clock when Mason tried to get space from Dogan to attempt a prayer shot to avoid a clock violation... Dogan ended up grabbing Mason's jersey so instead of a shot clock violation and the ball to Gannon, Edinboro got the ball back and made a 3 pointer. I am not trying to knock Dogan by any means either... he played a great game as he has all season! I think it is common knowledge that he is not the strongest defender Gannon has, though, and I feel that played a part in the 2nd half demise.

  12. just saw PSAC scores from last night...

    West Chester thumped Ship, 93-70
    Clarion beat Rock

  13. Former Knight notes

    LeMoyne - #1 in East
    Byrd & Eisendorf started all 24 games, Kaigler played all w/ no starts
    Min per game: Eisendorf 3rd (25), Byrd 4th (23.9), Kaigler 8th (18)
    Points: Byrd 2nd (10.9), Eisendorf 4th (9.8), Kaigler 6th (7.8)
    Rebounds: Eisendorf 1st (4.9), Kaigler 4th (4.0), Byrd 5th (3.0)
    Blocks: Kaigler 1st (29), Eisendorf 2nd (24), Byrd 5th (5)
    Steals: Byrd 2nd (22), Eisendorf 4th (17), Kaigler 9th (10)
    FT %: Eisendorf 3rd (80.5), Byrd 7th (69.4), Kaigler 7th (64.6)

    Chowan 17-8 overall
    Kuteyi: played all games, started 15 (started first 13 games, came off bench and started last 2)
    14.5 PPG (1st), 51 steals (1st), 58 asts (3rd), 3.2 rpg (5th), 27.4 mpg (4th), 45% 3FG (1st)

    John Carroll Univ
    Sean Flannery: 0.8ppg, 0.2rpg, 2-2 FT, 1-3 3FG, 3-7 FG, 4.0 mpg, 12 games played

    Bethesda Univ
    Gabriel Adersteg 11 starts, 18 games played
    22.8 mpg (3rd), 9.2 ppg (6th), 3.4 rpg (5th), 1.3 apg (4th)

  14. Interesting how Eisendorf and Byrd are both starters on the best team in the East, yet only average under 25 minutes per game. But all five Gannon starters average over 30 minutes per game. Wonder if that could have anything to do with Gannon fading down the stretch of games.....

    1. I noticed this, too. And Kaigler is eighth on the team in minutes per game with 18!

    2. oh the difference a bench makes!

    3. None of those guys on the Gannon bench would be serviceable for more minutes per game?

    4. I didn't say that... I said oh the different a bench makes. LeMoyne uses their bench, Gannon does not.

  15. OK ... I've had 24 hours to mull this over ...

    How does a team with just seven players (and I use that term loosely for a few of them) wear down a team with 12 active players? How can a 6-16 team with a starter who looks like he was pulled off the football team (oh wait, he WAS pulled off the football team) overcome a 16-point deficit to beat a 16-7 team on its home court? And said football player BANKS IN TWO FREE THROWS to provide what would be the winning margin? That was one of the more surreal comebacks in Hammermill Center history. Edinboro looked like a beaten, disinterested team in the first half. Never thought that they could even make it interesting, let alone win the thing.

    I don't think that Gannon started playing "not to lose" until Boro cut the lead down to 6 or so. It was a slow-paced game throughout; Gannon was much more efficient on offense in the first half compared to the second. It didn't seem like GU changed up much on defense once Mason started heating up. Edinboro was opportunistic ... turning 13 Gannon turnovers into 20 points; Gannon forced only six TO's with just eight points off TO's.

    This is now the EIGHTH time that Gannon has given up a double-digit lead in the second half in which the opposition either won (4 times) or sent the game into overtime (4 times, all of them somehow wins). Hold onto all eight of those leads and we're 20-4 and on our way to the NCAAs. Even if you want to say we got robbed at WJU we'd still be a fine 19-5. This year is turning into the one that got away.

    1. Since going to Gannon games at the Audi since 1966, I honestly can't remember a player BANKING in two free throws in a row like that.

      It may have happened, but, I don't remember see such an event.

    2. I don't remember anyone in the Parochial League ever banking in two free throws.

  16. One historic note on the women's 69-40 loss to Pitt Johnstown. Before yesterday, Gannon scored 40 or fewer points at home just once in the past 40 years -- a 46-37 loss to Pitt Johnstown in February 1993. I was at that game, too.

  17. with golden's point about how many times this has happened... this isn't a usual second half of season demise. They've done this all season. They just got lucky enough to be on the winning side of it earlier in the season and now have the misfortune of being on the losing end of it. I am not saying tiredness is not to blame, I'm sure it is. But this can't be summed up in the "well they lose a lot of games in the second half of the season" category like other years. Actually, this might be the most consistent Gannon team we've seen in a long time! They've consistently built leads and then blew them making the game decided in the waning seconds or in OT. OR They are down or tied at half and dominate the second half. Pretty consistent.

  18. Check out this video posted by Mike Gallagher: Gannon vs. Philadelphia Textile at the Hammermill Center 24 years ago. Truly filled to the rafters that evening.


    1. And a much younger crowd as well. Now the younger generation is at the Bayhawks game.

  19. Well said, Jim. Pretty much sums it up. Maybe we can salvage a win over the Hurst to avenge that terrible blowout last year. It will be tough like all the other games.

    The fat lady isn't singing yet about this season, but she's clearing her throat.

  20. NBA All Star game is 97-92 at the HALF. I wonder if Reilly is watching. :-)

    1. They are playing that game with a basketball but they are not playing basketball.

  21. I like that they've at least referred to it as NBA Entertainment a few times. Its definitely not basketball, but it is entertaining.

  22. To look deeper at the issue of playing time, I pulled the statistics from all of the teams in the Reilly era; then I looked at the number of players each year who averaged double figures in minutes per game, and the number of players each year who averaged over 30 minutes per game. See below for the chart.
    Year Double Figs Over 30
    2016-2017 6 4
    2015-2016 11 1
    2014-2015 8 3
    2013-2014 10 3
    2012-2013 9 4
    2011-2012 10 3
    2010-2011 8 3
    2009-2010 14 1
    2008-2009 9 2
    2007-2008 8 3
    2006-2007 8 3
    2005-2006 8 3

    This year’s team has the least number of players averaging double figures in minutes per game (6), and tied for the most averaging over 30 minutes (4) of any team in the Reilly era. That 4 comes with somewhat of an asterisk, as up until Saturday’s game, Evan Phoenix also averaged over 30 minutes a game. He is now at 29.8, after Hans Burwitz played heavier minutes in the second half.
    My takeaway from this is that Gannon has to find a sweet spot in balancing the playing time. In the years Gannon has had success (2014-2015, 2008-2009, 2007-2008), they used 8-9 players for double figure minutes, and a maximum of 3 for over 30 minutes. In rough years for Gannon (2015-2016, 2009-2010), they used a large number of players for a large number of minutes (11 and 14 respectively). It seems the ideal situation would be if a few more players played a few more minutes per game than they are this year, to balance out the playing time.
    This year’s team has blown many, large second half leads. In fact, they have been outscored in the second half 949 to 904. The three other times they have been outscored in the second half like this were three very down years (2015-2016, 2009-2010, 2006-2007). Could the heavy minutes by a select group of players be a factor in this?
    I can’t pretend to know the answer on finding the perfect player rotation, but I do believe that statistics like these merit a closer examination by the coaching staff in order to best maximize the available players.

    1. Interesting data. Thanks for taking the time to research it and thanks for sharing.

  23. Great effort with the research. It will be interesting to see if the Gannon coaches do anything with it.

  24. Just as a quick followup, here is the breakdown for the Top 10 D2 Men's teams (as of 2/14)
    Team Double Figs Over 30
    NW MO St 8 2
    Fairmont St 11 0
    IUP 8 2
    Bellarmine 9 0
    Cal Baptist 9 3
    Kutztown 7 3
    West Liberty 9 3
    Hawai'I Pacific 10 1
    Tarleton St 11 1
    Queens NC 8 0

  25. LeMoyne cracked the Top 25 for the first time this season debuting at #24 this week.

    1. More importantly, they remain ranked #1 in their region and have the inside track to host the East Regional.

  26. Another vintage Gannon video compliments of Mike Gallagher. This is from 1988 and is considered by some the greatest 30 seconds in Gannon basketball history. It was certainly among the loudest!

  27. And a bonus shot of official Mike "Tony Orlando" Lonski!