I'm going to stick my neck out right from the start and declare that Canisius, winner of one conference game last season, should contend for the MAAC title. It's by no means a certainty. Team chemistry will bear close watching early on. But it was evident during Friday night's 77-54 exhibition win over Ryerson at the KAC that talent is not an issue in Jim Baron's first year as coach.
Billy Baron, a fringe benefit to the hiring of his father, solidifies the point guard spot and can flat-out shoot it. His presence and ability to penetrate allows the likes of Isaac Sosa, Harold Washington and Alshwan Hymes to work and fire off the wings. Jordan Heath, the 6-10 transfer from Roberts Wesleyan, isn't as offensively skilled as former Bona star Andrew Nicholson but can have the same kind of impact at the defensive end.
The Griffs rolled nine deep most of the way, built a 48-18 halftime lead and then played a sloppy final 15 minutes. There's work to do but the pieces are there. The challenge is in continuing to nuture team chemistry.
"There's no question it's very, very difficult," Jim Baron said. "You're putting all the pieces together. You're taking the guys that have been here and you're trying to give them confidence of what it takes to win and understanding the equation of what it takes to win. It's not only making shots, but you got to defend, you got to rebound the basketball, you got to get to the free throw line and make plays."
"We knew it was going to be a little bit of a challenge because we hadn't played a game together before," Billy Baron said. "But I think we showed what we've been working on."
The Griffs started Baron, Washington, Sosa, Heath and Chris Manhertz. Freddy Asprilla, Reggie Groves and Hymes all played at least 19 minutes while Josiah Heath got 13.
-- Bob DiCesare
"It was a good first game for us," Jim Baron said.
taggedCanisius | College basketball | Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference