Knights win four of last five games, look to next season

The Gannon University men’s basketball team concluded the 2010-11 season with a 81-68 win over Clarion University Feb. 26 at the Hammermill Center.

The win was the fourth Knight victory in their last five games and gave Gannon a final record of 15-11 overall and 6-8 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West.

Deadria Clarke
(Deadria Clarke) Junior guard Steve Piotrowicz shoots the ball against Slippery Rock University. Gannon won the game 62-59.

Gannon coach John T. Reilly said he saw a lot of promise that could carry into next season.

“We won four out of our last five, and beat some really good teams in the process,” Reilly said. “I’m proud of how our guys stuck with it and hung together, and I think they learned that it’s the little things. Now we’ve got a year’s experience under our belt and hopefully we’ll improve on that.”

In its win over Clarion, Gannon took a commanding 50-33 lead at halftime after shooting a scorching 66 percent from the field. The Knights finished the game having shot 60 percent while converting 9-of-16 3-point attempts.

Gannon benefited from excellent production from senior forward Travis Brannen, who scored 24 points to go along with career-highs of 14 rebounds and five blocks.

In his last four games, Brannen averaged 18.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game and earned PSAC West player of the week for Feb. 28.

Brannen was one of three seniors playing in their collegiate finale, as guards Danard Crouch and Kareem Brown were also honored before the game.

Reilly said the void left by the seniors is a substantial one that will be addressed in the offseason.

“We lost three solid seniors,” he said. “We definitely need one, possibly two low post scorers, so we’ll hopefully get a couple of forwards as well as a guard to check out.”

Reilly said Gannon will look to fill the spots by locking up recruits on national signing day in April.

“We’re still evaluating at this point,” he said. “We’re going out of town for some workouts but we won’t know until signing day.”

Reilly and his staff will also try to retain Gannon’s core group of players after the Knights lost several high-profile players following last season, headlined by leading scorer George Johnson.

“Every year and situation is different.” he said. “We’ve got our core nucleus coming back next year, so I expect a solid season.”

Among those returning will be top-scorer Kelvin Agee. The redshirt freshman guard said he and a few teammates plan to spend part of their summer at Gannon honing their skills.

Agee, who sat out the final regular season game due to a minor ankle injury, averaged 14.9 points per game to lead Gannon after transferring from St. Bonaventure.

“We could’ve been in the mix for an NCAA bid if we would’ve done some of the little things,” Agee said of his first season for the Knights. “We plan to get together here and take advantage of the resources available to us.”

After a taking the mid-term break off, the Knights met Monday to discuss their plans going forward. Reilly said the team will start a weight-lifting program this week before holding several practice sessions a week until the end of the school year.

Reilly said he hopes to accomplish a lot before the next season.

“This will give us a chance to get everybody’s skill level up to where it should be.”

JOE CUNEO

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