Gannon men wrap up season

After leading the team with 17.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, Darrell Blanton was named to the All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s Western Division’s first team

But the junior forward could care less considering the Gannon University men’s basketball went on an early break instead of the conference tournament.

“Honestly, it doesn’t mean that much to me,” said Blanton, who completed his first season at Gannon. “If I make it next year, and we make the playoffs, I’ll be happy.”

The Knights polished off the season just before break with a 14-12 overall record and 12-10 mark in the PSAC.

Gannon dealt with a myriad of injuries throughout the season.

“It’s a grind, and when it’s somebody’s first time through, going in they don’t know what to expect and I think that’s where experience helps,” Coach John Reilly said. “For a lot of them, it was the first time playing together, and I don’t know if they knew how competitive the league is, but that’s where experience comes in. Now they know it’s a very good league, so we have to get better, otherwise we can’t expect to have different results.”

Gannon won four of its last six, despite facing teams with winning records in all but one game.

A pair of two-game winning streaks bookended a 68-65 loss on Feb. 25 to Mercyhurst at home, in which the Knights nearly made up a 17-point deficit in the final 11 minutes. Blanton’s 3-point attempt that would have sent the game into overtime rattled in and out as time expired.

Gannon followed the loss up with an 85-35 romp over winless Lock Haven University on Feb. 18 in the final home game. The Knights then hit the road, where they defeated Slippery Rock University 80-73 on Feb. 22, before falling at the hands of then-13th-ranked IUP Feb. 25.

Reilly said the final week’s games represented polar opposites for the Knights

“That was the one game all year I don’t think we competed very well in all year, and I’m not sure exactly why, but that was the one game all year where we didn’t give ourselves a chance to win,” Reilly said of the IUP loss.

“I thought our win over Slippery Rock was probably the best win of the year. Earlier in the season, they were a team that kind of ou-toughed us at home.”

Gannon saw its share of pleasant surprises as well.

In addition to Blanton, freshman Adam Blazek was named to the all-PSAC West first and second teams, respectively. Blazek was also named the conference’s freshman of the year.

“The whole year I was trying to improve my game, and help my team as much as possible,” said Blazek, who was tops on the Knights in minutes played and averaged 3.6 assists. The Cathedral Prep graduate was second on the team in with 15.5 points per game.

Reilly said he expects to have all of this year’s underclassmen back for next season, and noted the need for more depth at point guard.

“Our number one concern is that we need to bring in another person that can play the point,” he said. “We really only have one point guard. Brandon Belt spelled Adam, and did a good job at it, but his best position is the off-guard spot.”

The Knights will lose only forward Shameel Carty and Steve Piotrowicz to graduation.

Reilly said he and his staff are evaluating players at all levels.

“A little bit of everywhere,” he said. “Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland. We’ve got a good idea of who we want, but it’s just a matter of can we get him, because there are a lot of other people recruiting him as well.”

As the Knights’ offseason program begins this week with weight-lifting and meetings, Gannon’s players will take any lessons they can from this season.

“We we’re definitely disappointed with our 14-12 record,” Blazek said. “But after putting together a full year, I think everyone will be excited to get ready for next season.”



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