The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Gannon receives invitation to dance

The Gannon University men’s basketball team received word Sunday evening that it would be dancing all the way to East Stroudsburg, Pa. to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II tournament.

Adam Blazek, the junior guard and co-captain, said he was relieved, excited, happy and proud of his team when he heard the news.

“We have a special group of guys and an at-large bid to the tournament,” Blazek said. “That gives us a second chance and we feel that we can be a problem in the tournament.”

The fifth-seeded Knights’ NCAA tournament action begins when they take on the fourth-seed University of Charleston at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in East Stroudsburg.

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The Knights were relieved to acquire an at-large bid after coming up short of their goal to win the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament.

Gannon kicked off the PSAC tournament March 4 with a 73-69 double overtime victory over Slippery Rock University. Blazek led the way for the Knights with 50 minutes logged while tallying 25 points.

Blazek said he credited his team’s fundamentals for the victory over Slippery Rock.

“We played well together, like a brotherhood,” Blazek said. “Different guys stepped up and made big plays – a rebound, deflection or a clutch free throw.”

Gannon’s emotional high was short-lived when the Knights were bounced out of the PSAC tournament Saturday by West Chester University of Pennsylvania in a 77-76 overtime loss in East Stroudsburg.

Gannon coach John Reilly said the game was a tremendous matchup that displayed a great deal of intensity. Blazek said his team needed to regain its identity that led to so much success.

“We didn’t play our style of basketball,” Blazek said. “Giving up 20 offensive rebounds against the second-leading scoring team in the PSAC will get you beat.

“With all that said, we were a lucky bounce or a missed field goal away from the PSAC championship game.”

Reilly said there are some aspects of this team’s game that he would like to tweak, but noted that the Knights were in a position to win when the game was on the line.

Blazek said he learned from the loss and added that his teammates are hungry to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament.

“We rely on all the hard work since September’s preseason up to now,” Blazek said. “We will practice hard this week and have a scout for the University of Charleston.

“We will fix aspects like defensive rebounding and taking care of the ball.”

Reilly said despite the loss to West Chester, his team has momentum going into March madness. He said the Knights started to earn this prestigious privilege in the preseason.

“They gave themselves this opportunity through their hard work and dedication,” Reilly said.

Gannon finds itself heading into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009 when it reached the Elite Eight. Reilly said he can draw many comparisons between both of the teams he coached.

“The common denominator is having really good chemistry and work ethic,” Reilly said. “This team rivals that team in those areas.

“We are not as big but we are a power team.”

The University of Charleston Golden Eagles currently hold a 21-8 record overall and won three straight contests to capture the Mountain East Conference championship Sunday. Blazek said his team respects Charleston for that kind of performance.

“Beating West Liberty is an accomplishment because not too many teams have done that in the past three or four years,” Blazek said. “But we aren’t worried because we have been playing some great basketball.”

The West Liberty Hilltoppers have a 26-3 record overall and were a formidable test for Charleston. Charleston was able to edge the Hilltoppers 63-60. Reilly said Charleston is going to be a good matchup because both teams have a similar makeup.

Blazek said the Knights will leave all of their hard work and dedication out on the floor Saturday.

“We feel we can beat anyone in the country when we play Gannon basketball, together,” he said.


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