The Gannon University men’s basketball season seemed to turn around after a rough start when the Knights beat Indiana University of Pennsylvania on the road in mid-January.
IUP currently sports a 9-2 record in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West and a 19-2 mark overall.
Now Gannon (9-3, 14-8) will be taking the Hammermill Center floor Wednesday with the conference lead within reach against the Edinboro University Fighting Scots whom they also defeated earlier this year.
In their last outing, Gannon beat Mercyhurst University Saturday in a game that came down to the wire.
A scramble for a loose ball late in the game resulted in Gannon’s favor and Coach John Reilly was relieved to have luck on his side and a time out. He’s been much happier with the strong play of his team in the latter portion of the year.
Gannon defeated the then- fifth-ranked Crimson Hawks in the midst of a five-game win streak.
Gannon’s current winning streak is three and the Knights have already clinched a spot in the PSAC tournament, but they’re eyeing a bigger prize.
“I think our guys’ work ethic has a lot to do with why we are winning games right now,” Reilly said. “Basically, this is a brand new team.
“Some of these guys have played for us a lot in the past but they haven’t been as counted on before as they are this year. I think we’ve played one of the toughest schedules in the country and we learned a lot from doing so.”
Gannon would be leading the division with a win Wednesday over Edinboro, with more parity sure to be afoot.
Reilly will look to his captains C.J. Oldham and Adam Blazek to continue to lead the team through a tough remaining schedule.
“I think C.J. and Adam have done a wonderful job but all of our seniors have really stepped up,” Reilly said. “Not all of them played as much as they’d probably like but they’ve done a nice job of demonstrating work ethic.”
Blazek explained his role as the vocal leader one the court.
“I talk a lot,” Blazek said. “CJ is great one-on-one with the guys, he can relate to some of them a little better. I, on the other hand, just get so hyped up that I can’t help but yell at guys and get on them in practice and on the court.”
The Fighting Scots will head into the Hammermill Center with a 2-9 record in the PSAC West and are 9-12 overall.
Reilly and the Knights know better than to look past a veteran Edinboro team.
“They’re a very talented team,” Reilly said. “They had a big win against Cal the other day.”
Reilly said they have as good of a post player as you’ll see in Bryan Theriot. He added that their guard play is excellent, and said you’ll see a lot of scoring out of Johnny Marsh and Henri Wade-Chatman.
“They’re as good as anybody on our side,” Reilly said.
Blazek, too, stressed the importance of playing tough against Edinboro.
We have to limit their guard play,” Blazek said. “Marsh and Wade-Chatman both can score.
“Ever since I played them the year before, their guard can get to the rim and score. Then you can couple that with Theriot inside, he’s a heck of a player putting up 20 points and 10 rebounds since I’ve been in the league.”
Edinboro suffered a loss at the hands of the hands of the Knights at McComb Fieldhouse in mid-January by the score of 71-59.