Reilly, Blazek, Smith honored Monday


John Reilly, the Gannon University men’s basketball coach, was named the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region coach of the year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and seniors Adam Blazek   and Girbran Smith were honored as all-region selections Monday.

Reilly received the honor for the second time in his career after guiding the Golden Knights to their second consecutive PSAC West regular-season title and second PSAC Tournament championship since joining the conference.

Blazek said his coach knows how to get the most out of his players.

“He was the guy who believed I could succeed at this level and helped push me to achieve my goals throughout my career,” Blazek said.

The Knights finished the season 23-9, which marked the program’s third consecutive 20-win season. The 11-year coaching veteran’s defense finished the season as the country’s top-ranked unit – holding opponents to 56.6 points per game.

Blazek was selected to the NABC All-Atlantic Region first team, becoming a four-time all-region selection. The senior guard ranked No. 1 in the PSAC with 2.3 steals per game and finished second in minutes logged per game with an average of 37 minutes, 41 seconds.

Blazek said that he will most likely appreciate the awards he has been bestowed throughout his career at Gannon in years to come when he has more perspective.

“I am grateful to everyone who has trained, coached, played with and competed against me,” Blazek said.

The two-time All American ended his career at Gannon as the Knights’ all-time steals leader with 243, fourth in 3-pointers (190), seventh in assists (373) and seventh in points (1,150).

Blazek’s impressive 2014-15 campaign led him to be selected to compete in the NCAA Division II All-Star Game Friday at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.

He said the All-Star game selection was truly an honor, but added that he didn’t get here by himself.

“Being recognized individually is due to the great teammates I have,” Blazek said. “The honor really is a testament to the hard work on my craft and the high level we play as a team, from top to bottom, every day.”

Smith was named to the NABC All-Atlantic Region second team. The senior guard was the Knights’ leading scorer with 14.4 points per game this season and sported a team-best 43.4 percent shooting mark from behind the arc.

Smith cemented his spot as an all-region selection when he hit the game-winning 3-point shot with 2.4 seconds remaining in Gannon’s 69-66 win over Indiana (Pa.) in the PSAC championship game.

Blazek said that he was very happy his teammate was named to the second team. “The guy is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” Blazek said about Smith. “He puts in hard and detailed work on his game.

“From sitting the first few games of his Gannon career to now being one of the best players in the conference and region is awesome.”

The seniors’ careers have been remarkable on the court, but they are even more impressive off it.

I have had classes with both and they have each excelled while bringing their unique personalities into the classroom. Blazek’s humorous and positive persona has been infectious throughout the journalism program at Gannon, and it has been a pleasure to become his friend over the years.

Both of these athletes will succeed, whether they take their basketball careers overseas or get jobs in the communication field.

It has also been a pleasure getting to know Reilly while following and covering the basketball team during my time at Gannon. He is one of the most personable coaches I have met, and makes you feel educated and important every time you leave his office.

He’s a general on the court and a great man away from the game. It’s been a pleasure watching his team grow together and become a family.


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