By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) You would have to have an advanced case of pessimism to find anything wrong with the way Gordon drubbed the visiting Mitchell Pequots, 92-54, on Thursday evening at the Bennett Center.
We got a good look at everyone on the roster including five for the first time. One late-comer (that’s you, Emily Sydow) decided that she needed to be on time to see the veterans play. Those of us on hand from the outset saw the veterans have their way with the undersized visitors.
Gordon (4-0) switches to Commonwealth Coast Conference play on Saturday afternoon (3PM) against Wentworth followed by a 2nd CCC opponent on Tuesday night (7:30PM) on the road at Henniker, New Hampshire versus New England College.
“Now the gauntlet gets thrown down,” said Mike Schauer afterwards. “Now it starts for real and I’m looking forward to it.”
Both of the next two opponents play the Scots twice a year. There will be few surprises or gimmicks. It’s about talent and performance. After seeing this year’s edition against four non-league opponents you can’t help but agree with the CCC coaches’ poll that singles out Gordon as the team to beat. Gordon has not been “The Target” before in the CCC so it will be interesting to see how they handle the pressure. Not hearing the chant, “Over-rated,” will be a good thing.
Mitchell never led in this game. The best they got was a 5-5 tie after a fall away three from Kendall Lanham (soph-5’8”) early. During the next five minutes the Pequots committed six turnovers while Gordon ran 13 straight points. Even with nearly 14 minutes left that 18-5 lead told you all you needed to know about how this game would go.
During the spurt Mitchell tried a zone and several timeouts but they found no answers. “Once we attacked the rim I thought we were fine,” explained Coach Schauer.
“Attacking the rim,” meant finding 1st team All-CCC Jon Marstaller (6’5” junior). Jon collected 15 points in the first half and another 8 points in just four minutes in the second half on his way to a game-high 23 points. He picked up six of those points on two long-range shots – his first two of the season.
The Scots left with a, 44-28, lead at halftime when Jon put in a rebound at the buzzer.
“I was riled up at halftime because we missed so many shots that we normally make,” said Coach Schauer. “When we scrimmage in practice Ben Gaskill (6’9” freshman) and Nick Marino (6’7” junior) are so long and block so many shots that in a real game when we get around the basket we assume they’re going to be there.” The Pequots were seldom in any sort of shot-blocking position so the easy shots turned into easy baskets in the second half.
The Pequots hung around for two minutes in the second half (48-33) before the Scots led by Aaron Trigg (6’2” freshman) and Tim DeLuca (6’2” sophomore) went on a 32-8 rampage over the next 10+ minutes to put this one away, 80-41. Both Aaron and Tim had personal runs of eight points in the big surge. That left nearly 7 ½ minutes for the spectators to get a good look at the new recruits and some returnees that they haven’t seen much of.
The final score was, 92-54, and for once the score was indicative of how things went.
Aaron Trigg was moved into the starting lineup against Mitchell. Coach Schauer explained the switch this way: “We made the change yesterday after seeing some of the teams ahead on the schedule play. We’re going to stay that way because we think it helps our rotation. It was no reflection on Mike Schnackenberg’s play at all. It was a strategic move. Mike handled it with such class that it is a non-issue and I’m thrilled with that.”
The most remarkable stat in this game was rebounding. The Scots are usually out-rebounded. In this one they out-rebound a team by 22 rebounds on their way to getting 51! The best they had last year was 40 rebounds against Johnson State. Of course a cynic might add that a lot of those rebounds in this game were on missed layups and they might not be entirely wrong.
Another stat that needs to be mentioned is the one that point guard Justin Kaufman (5’11” junior) has going. After four games he has 18 assists and just 3 turnovers. Handling the ball so much and in some games against full-court pressure make his early-season numbers quite remarkable. Can he maintain numbers like that in CCC play?
I liked what I saw of Gordon’s rookie big men – Ben Gaskill (6’9” freshman) & Jeff Derr (6’8” freshman). Neither one of these kids seemed shy about getting to the basket on offense. Defense is a work in progress. Watching the development of Jon Marstaller and Mike Schnackenberg on the defensive end has me hoping that the newcomers will take the same path.
Mitchell (1-6) arrived a bit late and played on Tuesday. “They gave Connecticut College a good game on Tuesday and Connecticut College had beaten MIT by 18 points,” said Coach Schauer. “The score tonight didn’t truly indicate the quality of team Mitchell has.”
Besides CCC opponents Wentworth and New England, Gordon also gets rugged Salem State and faraway Husson (Bangor, Maine) in December. I feel safe in predicting that there will be no Mitchell-type blowouts in December.
“I’m really pleased with our younger players,” said Coach Schauer. “I put them in and they just extended the game and didn’t make me put veterans back in.”
The Blue Sea (student cheering section) seemed to be missing a few waves. They need a full turnout for Saturday’s CCC opener.