Monthly Archives: December 2007

Gordon Fades in Crunch Time and Falls to Salem State (Game #8)

 By Peter McClelland

(Salem) “We were able to make plays when we needed to,” was the way Salem State Coach Chris Harvey explained his team’s, 75-65, win over Gordon Saturday afternoon in non-conference action.  And you had to agree because this was a 3-point game (66-63) with 1:19 left.

The Scots needed a stop but instead were victimized by Stevie Celestin.  It was bad enough that he clearly beat his defender but to make matters worse the rest of the Gordon defense was nowhere to be seen.  So the junior transfer from Lasell ended up with a pregame layup drill kind of layup. 

The easy basket put Gordon down by five (68-63) and instead of responding with points the Scots committed their 17th turnover.  A quick foul of Stevie Celestin followed.  He made the first, and to show you how downhill things got, missed the second and somehow, at 6’, was able to pull down the Vikings 20th offensive rebound.  The rest of the way Salem State nailed all six free throws while Gordon has just a layup from Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME)

By the way, the boxscore is incorrect.  The final score was 75-65 and Mike Schnackenberg actually had 18 points instead of 16. 

Gordon Coach Mike Schauer was steaming even before this game was done……….and as far as I could tell it wasn’t at the referees or his team.  Planted across from the Gordon bench was a spectator who rode the Gordon team relentlessly from beginning to end.  This unseemly representation of a Salem State student crossed the line verbally into poor taste any number of times. Why he was allowed to continue reflects poorly on whomever from Salem State was supervising the game because numerous complaints were given about him along the way.  Anyhow, this young man’s boorish behavior riled up Coach Schauer and, essentially, kept me from discussing the game with him afterwards.

I suspect that he was unhappy with the defensive lapse in crunch time but throughout most of the rest of the game, the Scots defensive effort was commendable.  Salem State (7-1) is strong, fast, and physical.  They came in averaging nearly 90 points a game.  With two minutes to go, they had 66 points.

“Gordon was the first team we have faced that played a completely different style than we wanted to allow them to play,” explained Coach Harvey.  “We were trying to make them play quicker and they wouldn’t do it.”  If time of possession had been kept, it is quite likely that Gordon had possession for several more minutes than the Vikings.

Time of possession is nice but Salem State’s excellence on the boards more than made up for less time with the ball.  Their 20 offensive rebounds extended possessions, in fact, the Vikings last four baskets each came after an offensive rebound.  The last one was the killer because a rebound for Gordon would have given them the ball down only three.  Instead, the Vikings got a rebound, a timeout, and a Stevie Celestine layup.

“On that play after the timeout we got him the ball and asked him to do something with it and he did,” said Coach Harvey.  “Stevie is normally a shooting guard but we’ve had him play the point because our point guard has a knee injury.  It has taken away his opportunities to score.” 

If either team had been able to shoot 3’s accurately, they would have won going away.  Consider that combined the teams were 3-for-29!  As you can see, it wasn’t for lack of attempts.   And it wasn’t for lack of open looks.  Therefore much of the scoring came from in close and there were plenty of easy ones missed in there as well.  There were shot-blockers lurking on both sides and that surely had something to do with some of the surprising misfires.

Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) carried the scoring load in the first half with 16 points on 16 shots.  The Vikings gave Jon’s defender little help and that allowed Jon to spin and weave his way into good shots.  He converted a rebound at 8:50 of the first half at the end of a seven-point run and gave Gordon an 18-15 lead.  The next four minutes Salem State shot free throws and layups and jumped back on top 26-20.  A layup just before the buzzer by Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH) assisted by Jon Marstaller cut the Viking lead to 35-31 at halftime.

Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) and Mike Schnackenberg shouldered most of the scoring load in the second half.  Mike had 14 points and seemed to thrive on the physical action around the basket.  Two of his free throws came at the end of a six-point run and put the Scots ahead, 51-49, with 11 ½ minutes to go.  That lead didn’t last because on the next six possessions Gordon missed the front end of a one-and-one, missed two 3’s, committed an offensive foul, and turned the ball over twice.  Ugly stuff and the home team capitalized to get in front for good (56-51) with eight minutes left.  The Scots closed to within two a couple of times (58-56 and 60-58) but were unable to rebound well enough or shoot well enough to pull this one out.

Gordon (6-2) has now lost to two very good teams (MIT and Salem State) on the road.  Considering that this was Gordon’s 4th game in eight days you have to marvel at their ability to control the tempo against a very athletic Viking team.

“Gordon runs a lot of great sets,” said Coach Harvey.  “They set great screens and they read screens and take what you give them.  Some of their shots didn’t fall that were open.  If some of them had we might have had a different ending.”

Ricky Ogboin was Salem State’s leading scorer getting all 12 of his points in the first half.  Jeremi Tate turned in a double/double with 12 rebounds and 11 points. 

Jon Marstaller led Gordon with 23 points, while Mike Schnackenberg added 18 and Aaron Trigg 17. 

In my opinion this was Mike Schnackenberg’s best game.  He played with an edge yet kept out of foul trouble. 

Aaron Trigg has been showing the tireless defending of Jerry Logan and the shooting form of Mike Herr in recent games.  In the past week he’s gone from a team member to a team leader.  It’s been nice to watch.

Gordon will finally get some rest before facing Husson College from Bangor next Thursday AFTERNOON at the Bennett Center.  Game time is 3PM so I’ll assume that the Blue Sea will be missing and close friends and relatives will occupy the seats. 

After the Husson game, it’s the Christmas break before a tournament in Schenectady (NY) on the first weekend in January. 

It was interesting for me to see first-year Salem State coach Chris Harvey again.  Last time I saw him was at Lasell when I think he was in his first year there as well.  I remembered that Troy Justice was coaching Gordon.  He remembered that Gordon beat Lasell twice that year.

Salem State Boxscore

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Superb Defense and Aaron Trigg’s Offense Pace Scots (Game #7)

 By Peter McClelland

(Wenham) The only thing from Eastern Nazarene that ran around loose at the Bennett Center was a chicken.  Everything else was closely guarded as Gordon (6-1) defeated the visiting Crusaders, 64-50, before chanting Seas (Blue and Red) on Thursday night in a non-conference game. The two teams will meet again in a conference game in January.

Gordon Coach Mike Schauer had plenty to say about the brand of defense his squad played.  “We’re a tough team to score on.  Six of seven opponents have scored in the 50’s.  We gave up 66 points once and that was roughly our average last year.”

That tenacious defense shut down one of ENC’s strong points (3-point shooting) completely.  “We’re shooting 36% from out there,” recalled ENC Coach Jon Yeh afterwards.  “They did a good job of taking Jeremy (Hueston) and Alex (Carr) away.  The pressure outside did open things up inside for JP Marcellus.”

JP (6’4” senior) put on quite a show.  He scored half of ENC’s points (25) and added 15 rebounds.  When was the last time an opponent put up numbers like that at the Bennett Center?

But in this game JP’s 19 points in the second half were offset by a 20-point second half from Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS).  We’re not talking 20 points for the game.  This was for the half! 

“Aaron was sensational,” said Coach Schauer.  “I thought he was the only guy who scored for us in the second half.”  Who was the last Gordon player to have 20 points in a half?

Coach Yeh told me that he thought the game was lost in the first half.  “You remember the big 3’s that (Aaron) Trigg hit and all those but the plays that really killed us were the ones in which we didn’t get rebounds in the first half.” There is evidence to support his contention.
Over a four minute stretch starting with 6:40 left in the half, the Scots took an 18-12 advantage and went on a 17-4 run and put ENC at a 35-16 deficit that they never recovered from.  Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) (2) and  Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME)(1) nailed 3’s but the other four baskets were on converted rebounds – two by Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH), and one each from Jon Marstaller and Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME)

ENC trailed 35-20 at the half and you had to wonder how they stayed that close when you combine their poor rebounding with 15 turnovers. 

The Crusaders cut the lead to ten (38-28 after three minutes) but Aaron Trigg successfully dialed long distance twice in a row and up the lead went to 44-28.  With the sizable Red Sea and the chicken egging them on, ENC got within nine (52-43) with eight unanswered points.  Again it was JP Marcellus repeatedly getting to the basket against a collection of Gordon defenders.  “He was a tough matchup for us,” understated Coach Schauer afterwards.

Only up nine with five minutes to go someone needed to step up.  Surprisingly, the run-stopper this time wasn’t Aaron.  It was Mike Schnackenberg.  He banked in a turnaround jumper from about 10 feet and followed that basket with a couple of free throws, the bleeding was stopped, and the Scots finished off the Crusaders, 64-50. 

ENC (3-5) was led in scoring by JP Marcellus (25), Andrew Brown (11), and Dan Shaw (10).

For Gordon the leaders were Aaron Trigg (25), Brady Bajema (14) and Mike Schnackenberg (13).

“If you told me at the beginning of the season that we would beat anybody with Jon Marstaller and Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) going 2-for-17 I would have certainly doubted it,” said Coach Schauer.  But with the Gordon defense holding ENC to 50 points it happened and the Scots still won.

Gordon faces Salem State on Saturday afternoon over there at 4PM.  The women’s game is afterwards.  “We need to play better to beat a team like Salem State,” said Coach Schauer.  That game will be Gordon’s 4th game in eight days.  Next Thursday the Scots finish their December schedule with a home game with Husson College.

ENC brought an excellent crowd with them and they made plenty of noise.  When Gordon went up 31-14 in the first half the Blue Sea started chanting, “Scoreboard, Scoreboard.”  It didn’t phase the Red Sea in the least.  They were highly supportive throughout and made me think that the game was closer than it actually was.

The Blue Sea was down a few members from the Endicott game but they were the equal of the visitors.  Both coaches appreciated the crowd.  “It was a great atmosphere,” said Coach Yeh.  “It was the first time our guys had played in front of anything like that and it took a while to settle in.”

“I thought that the crowd was great,” added Coach Schauer.  “It was really why we played this game.  It’s a fun environment and we might as well play in it two times a year.”

The Crusaders have been without 6’7” senior Luc Jasmin all season with a stress fracture.  He averaged 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season.  You would think that he could be a factor in the rematch on January 19th at ENC.  That should be a trip the Blue Sea makes.

I’ll be remembering that chicken running around the gym for a long time.  And his head wasn’t even cut off although it looked as if Gordon AD Joe Hakes was prepared to consider such an action if it happened again. 

Boxscore ENC 12-6-07

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Gordon Shoots Past Endicott in Closing Minutes (Game #6)

By Peter McClelland 

 (Wenham) Gordon avoided a last-minute, anyone’s-game scenario by putting together a run of efficient offense over the final 3:25 and ran away from Endicott, 66-57, before a boisterous home crowd in a non-conference game on Tuesday evening.

Neither team played particularly well on offense for any length of time up until the final three minutes.  “I think that some of our poor play had to do with the way Endicott played us,” explained Gordon Coach Mike Schauer.  That meant tight man-to-man defense with shot-blockers inside – 6’8” freshman Justin Martin had four blocks.

“We were good defensively for most of the game and it showed at the end,” said Coach Schauer.  Specifically in the last minute we saw Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH) force Sam Evans into a tough shot followed by Scots forcing a couple of Gull turnovers.

“Every time it was necessary to make a play they did and we didn’t,” said Endicott Coach Chris Millette afterwards.  And while the Gulls were getting those three unproductive possessions with the game on the line, Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) was hitting four straight free throws and forcing the second turnover that he converted into a breakaway layup.

“I thought that our two seniors, Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) and Justin who did not have great games, really stepped up toward the end and made some plays,” said Coach Schauer.  Jon earned the compliment for his late-game play by hitting a long one from in front of the Gordon bench to give the Scots the lead for good, 51-48.

The Gulls graduated their two top scorers: Nemanja Marinkovic (13.7) and Mike Sullivan (12.2).  Marinkovic, especially, brutalized the Scots rebounding, passing, and scoring in all eight games he played against them.  Not having him available as the go-to guy on offense really hurt the Gulls.

The Blue Sea was out in force filling an entire 13-row section of the bleachers.  They made their presence known early and throughout and probably got into the heads of some of Endicott’s seven newcomers.  I’d like to think that their biggest impact is on free throw shooters.  The Gulls ended up at a weak 50% (7 for 14) from the line. 

“We were 50% from the free throw line for the 6th straight game,” said a frustrated Coach Millette.  “You just can’t do stuff like that and win games.”

Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) gave Gordon its first lead, 5-4, after getting a pass from Justin Kaufman.  Endicott quickly moved back in front with 5’10” Bobby Montrond converting a rebound into a layup.  The Gulls held onto the lead for the rest of the half pushing it as high as 23-16 with five minutes to go on a couple of fastbreak baskets by Todd Burton and Tom Connor.  The Scots cut six points off that lead during the rest of the half and ended the half with Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL) draining a last-second three on a feed from Justin Kaufman.  Endicott was ahead, 29-28, at the half.

“At halftime I noticed that we’d been outrebounded 25-14,” said Coach Schauer.  “To me that meant that they had competed harder than we had.”

Gordon shot a whole lot better in the second half (55.6%) and were only outrebounded by three rebounds. 

A couple of highlight plays from Aaron Trigg enabled the Scots to finally pull ahead.  The former track/football star from Kansas turned on the jets after a steal for a breakaway layup and then threw an accurate ¾ court pass to a breaking Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) for a second layup.  These two exciting plays gave the Scots a, 42-38, advantage with 13 minutes left. 

The Gulls answered with a nice run of seven points featuring a three from Bobby Montrond, and inside work from Todd Burton and Tom Connor and put Endicott in front, 47-44, with 7 ½ left.  The rest of the way it was the home team that made most of the shots (outscoring the Gulls 22-10) and as a result coming away with a, 66-57, win.

Next for Gordon (5-1) is an extra game with another Commonwealth Coast Conference foe, Eastern Nazarene, on Thursday evening at the Bennett Center. 

Endicott (1-5) plays a couple of games this weekend on the road in New York City. 

The Gulls started last season 1- 4 before turning things around.  “We tried to schedule some tough out-of-conference games and we haven’t done well,” said Coach Millette.  “We’ve got some questions that need to be answered.” 

SID Pat Brynes estimated the crowd at over 1000.  Surprising to me was how few Endicott fans were on hand.  Their numbers are sure to swell when Gordon visits Endicott on February 2nd.  I wonder what part of the Blue Sea will make the trip over there.

There were a couple of Presidents on hand although one of them arrived late and could well have missed my reminder of the early start in the last article. 

The top scorers for Endicott were; Tom Connors and Sam Evans with 12, and Bobby Montrond, Graham Whitelaw, and Todd Burton with 10 each.

Jon Marstaller paced the Scots with 16 including 12 in the second half.  Aaron Trigg added 15 and Justin Kaufman had 13.

It didn’t escape me that Todd Burton hit the first basket of the game.  Who among the Gordon faithful will ever forget that killer three he drilled in the last second at Endicott the last time the two teams met? And then to calmly sink the winning free throw.  That’s the stuff of legends!

Endicott boxscore 12-4-07

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Justin Kaufman’s Defense Keys 4th Win (Game #5)

(Wenham) Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) excelled on defense and led Gordon past non-conference Newbury, 65-53, on Saturday afternoon at the Bennett Center.

The Scots (4-1) took the lead early (7-6 at four minutes in) and never trailed the rest of the way.  Because Gordon avoided lengthy dry spells they moved to sizable leads in both the first half (32-17) and second half (61-43).  The Nighthawks (2-3)  got to within seven (48-41) with ten minutes remaining but were far too inconsistent offensively to get any closer.

The biggest problem for the visitors was that top-scorer Arch Mitchell could not get untracked.  “They did a great job on Archie,” explained Newbury Coach LJ Harrington afterwards.

Gordon Coach Mike Schauer added more details.  “The most dominant player on the floor tonight ended up with six points and four assists.  That was Justin (Kaufman).  He dominated the game because Arch Mitchell did not score in the half-court.  He had two breakaway baskets and that was it.  I don’t always think that young guys understand what it means to take a guy averaging 20 points and have him score four.  I was thrilled with his effort.”

The Scots were extremely deliberate on offense and that spelled trouble for Newbury.  “They’re a bad matchup for us,” said Coach Harrington.  “They require you to defend for 30 seconds and we’re not always ready to do that and it leads to breakdowns.  I don’t think Gordon ever took a bad shot.”

Coach Schauer had an explanation for the shot selection as well.  “I finally figured out at halftime that we ought to get Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) more touches around the basket – he only had four shots in the first half.  We also needed to get Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) and Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) more open looks.  And we did.”

It is one thing to get the ball into the hands of your top scorers and quite another to have them shoot well.  In this one, the shots were falling.  Note the 60.9% shooting in the second half and 52% for the game.

This was one of Aaron Trigg’s best games.  He matched his highest scoring total with 20 points.   He also had 20 points against Nichols last January.  Defensively he did a nice job on point-guard Steven Morris holding the speedy playmaker to just one long one in the second half.

“Sometimes Aaron gets compared to Jerry (Logan),” said Coach Schauer.  “It is an unfair comparison because Aaron is every bit the player that Jerry was as a sophomore.”  What sort of player will Aaron develop into over the rest of this season and the next two seasons?  Jerry was Defensive Player of the Year in the CCC for the 2006-07 season. 

The Scots used the long ball in the first half to push a 19-15 lead to 32-17.  Connecting long-range were Brady Bajema, Tim MacDonnell (sophomore-6′2″-Jericho VT), and Aaron Trigg. 

The game-sealing surge in the second half followed an awesome display by Newbury newcomer Albie Watson.  If they were going to show only one highlight from this game it would be Albie blowing by a defender from the Midwest for a slam dunk.  Two more normal layups for Albie moved Newbury closer at 48-41 but then the game sealer occurred.

 Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) was the catalyst in this surge.  He maneuvered his way for three layups while Jon Marstaller put in a rebound and Aaron Trigg nailed a three over a Nighthawk zone.  This burst of scoring increased Gordon’s advantage to, 61-43, with six minutes left and stuck this one into the win column for the home team.

Top scorers for Newbury were Albie Watson (14) and Steven Morris (12).  Kevin Cleveland collected 11 rebounds.

Next up for the Nighthawks will be Salem State at home.  Gordon faces Salem State on the road on December 8th.

For the Scots the next game is the one you circle on the calendar when the schedule comes out – Endicott at home on Tuesday night.  This game is always a happening.  You could well see a college president or two.  The noise is significant and that’s good because occasionally unkind things are shouted but never heard except by those within five feet of the shouter.  In addition, year after year the games are usually very competitive.

“I am pleased that Coach Millette and the Endicott administration were willing to play this non-conference game,” said Coach Schauer.  “For most of us it is the most enjoyable home game we have.  They have played a tougher schedule than we have and their record (1-4) is misleading.  It should be another right-to-the-wire one.”

The game starts at 7PM with no women’s game before hand.  I absolutely guarantee you that some folks will show up at halftime because they’re thinking it’s the usual 8PM starting time.  Will you be one of them?

Boxscore Newbury Game

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