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Baron and Beyond

By Bob DiCesare

Sat next to a scout from the San Antonio Spurs Sunday but he didn't give up much when I asked about Billy Baron's NBA prospects. So postgame I turned to Marist first-year coach Jeff Bower, who spent 15 years with the Charlotte Hornets in such capacities as GM and coach. Here's what he had to say when I asked him about Baron:

"I think he's terrific as a player now. I think the way he plays the game are things that a lot of teams will really like. I never plot a guy at this time of year honestly because you don't know the draft and you don't know how many people are going to be involved in it.

"But I know this: He's a winner. He's got skills. He's got size. He's got deep shooting ability. He's got play-making ability. And he is a competitor. And I know those are all qualities that every NBA team would value and will do their research and see. When it's all said and done I would expect him to be rated or ranked ahead of a lot of guys. I think he's the type of kid that helps your team and is going to have the poise to compete and help a team.

"It's too early, honestly. The people that are talking now are usually guys that aren't involved in decision-making that are saying where people are going. But he would be a guy that a lot of people are excited about and would want to dig very deep to find out about in my opinion."

Canisius-Marist Game Wrap

Canisius 78, Marist 65

How Canisius Won: Griffs had trouble with the Marist press early on, committing five turnovers in a flash. And they stumbled against it a bit in the second half as well. But both times they stablized and in the end shot 47 percent from the floor once they were able to run some offense.

Player of the Game: If Billy Baron cared only about Billy Baron there's no telling how many ponts he could have scored in this one. He had 25 at the half. But he finish with "just" 38 because he's all about trying to win this conference and he knows that isn't happening unless Canisius continues to develop into a well-rounded team. So he scored "only" 13 after intermission to tie his career high of 38. He was 12 of 23 from the field, 5 of 11 from three and 9 of 10 from the line.

What It Means: The Griffs improved to 14-7 overall, 8-2 in the MAAC and retained a share of the conference lead. Marist is 6-14, 3-7.

Stat Check: Canisius went 24 of 28 from the line and has made over 80 percent of its foul shots each of the last three games.

Stat Check II: Chris Perez has scored in double figures four straight games after a 4 for 18 slump that saw him total 16 points in three games.

In the House: I've heard the stories of how they had overflow crowds at ECC for Calvin Murhpy's freshman games. Baron's playing close to that level but times have changed. There were 1,742 at the KAC Sunday, about 400 under capacity. 

What's Next: The Griffs visit conference newcomer Quinnipiac at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The Bobcats (7-3 MAAC) finished off a season-sweep of preseason favorite Manhattan with Sunday's OT win and lead the country in rebounding.

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Niagara-Marist Game Wrap

Niagara 80, Marist 74

How Niagara Won: 1) The nation's leading scorer caught fire with the game on the line. 2) By drastically turning the rebounding tables in the second half. 3) By scoring 11 second-chance points after intermission.

Turning Point: The game was sitting there waiting to be had when Antoine Mason shifted into gear and made 3s with 6:45 left, 3:46 left and 2:59 on the clock. And Niagara's leads went to 60-56, 67-60 and 70-61.

Player of the Game: Marist junior Chavaughn Lewis had the primary guard on Mason most of the night and held him to 6 of 18 shooting from the field. Meanwhile, Lewis also scored a game-high 25 points, shot 10 of 16 and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. That's a pretty good night's work right there.

Stat Check: Marist shot 52.8 percent from the field, 41.2 percent from behind the arc and just 50 percent (11 of 22) from the foul line. Go figure.

Stat Check II: Niagara guard Marvin Jordan (18 points) is 14 of 24 from the field the last two games after a three-game skid where he was 3 of 20.

Stat Check III: First half rebounding: Marist 21-9 and 7-1 at the offensive end. Second half rebounding: Niagara 18-10 and 8-4 on the offensive end. Niagara big man Marcus Ware had all three of his offensive boards in the second half and went to the line 13 times on the night, making 10.

What It Means: Niagara rid itself of a two-game losing streak and improved to 6-15 overall and 3-7 in the MAAC. Marist is 6-13, 3-6.

Still Missing: Niagara point guard Tahjere McCall sat out a second straight game with that tongue laceration suffered in practice Tuesday. He remains day to day. 

In the House: Taps welcomed 1,250 into its warm confines on a night when basketball went head-to-head with hockey on Monteagle Ridge.

Next Up: Niagara hits the road for games at Siena on Thursday and a rematch with Marist on Saturday. The Red Foxes play at Canisius at 2 p.m. Sunday before heading back to Poughkeepsie.

Bob DiCesare

Canisius-Niagara Game Wrap

Canisius 87, Niagara 74

How Canisius Won: Depth. Precision offense. And by building a big lead and making it hold up for a change. Niagara's chances were basicallly shot when point guard Tajhere McCall was held out after suffering a severe tongue laceration in practice Tuesday. That meant freshman guards Wesley Myers played seconds shy of 40 minutes, while guards Antoine Mason and Marvin Jordan did play all 40 minutes. That's a grind in a rivalry game on the road, especially when Canisius players are filling their roles as well as they did in this one. Very solid game for the Griffs, who held Niagara at bay after seeing double-digit leads evaporate the last two times out.

Player of the Game: As I've said before, Billy Baron would dominate this category for the Griffs (and Mason for Niagara). Outside of those two, it's hard not to love what Chris Manhertz brought in this one. He had 14 points and 11 boards in 30 minutes, was perfect on eight free throws and tied his career high with four assists. But get this: Zero fouls. Manhertz managed that once before in his career, against Niagara, in a game in which he played just three minutes.

Best Supporting Roles: Have to go with Chris Perez (17 points) on the Canisius end and Marvin Jordan (19) on the Niagara side. Jordan went 4 of 10 from three and ended his career averaging better than 20 points in games at the KAC.

Elite Matchup: Baron had it going early for Canisius while Mason seemed to bide his time before exploding late. But what's with that 3-for-7 performance at the foul line? But from the field: Mason was 11 of 19, Baron 10 of 17. Quality stuff.

Security Check: Given the rivalry stakes and the oft-times frenetic tempo the turnover numbers astounded. Niagara committed nine, Canisius a season-low five.

What It Means: Canisius (13-7, 7-2) moved into sole possession of first in the MAAC by a half-game and owns back-to-back victories over Niagara for the first time since 2000-01. The Purple Eagles (5-15, 2-7) have lost six of their last seven.

In the House: The game sold out Monday (2,196) and tickets were going $10 over face value outside the doors.

Home Cooking: Canisus remained unbeaten at home, where it's averaging better than 85 points a game.

What's Next: Marist. The Red Foxes visit Niagara Friday night and Canisius Sunday afternoon. McCall is listed as day-to-day for Niagara.

###

Hart hits game-winner for Hamilton

by Jerry Sullivan

Matt Hart, a sophomore guard from Canisius High, grabbed an offensive rebound and nailed a shot from the baseline at the overtime buzzer Tuesday night to give Hamilton an 85-83 victory over Elmira College. Hart, who is 6-2, scored a season-high 30 points in the non-league game.

Hart was 11 of 15 from the floor  and 4-for-5 from three-point range. He is now averaging 20.8 points  a game, second in the NESCAC and 40th in the nation in Division III.

Last year, Hart was among the top 10 freshman players in the country in Division III scoring.

 

 

 

 

VIDEO: Monmouth stuns Canisius men at the buzzer, 83-82

By Keith McShea

After notching a great win Friday night, the Canisius men's basketball team was stunned in an 83-82 loss at Monmouth Sunday afternoon. 

Monmouth's Andrew Nicholas hit two three-pointers in the final 8.1 seconds to beat the Golden Griffins (who beat Monmouth by 20 at home last week). 

Here they are:

Postgame reaction from Nicholas and Monmouth coach King Rice: 

Longer video of highlights from the game (but poorly edited ones -- this doesn't include the penultimate three-pointer): 

Canisius-Rider Game Wrap

Canisius 94, Rider 91 2OT

How Canisius Won: By finding an incredible offensive chemistry and making threes at a rate that matched the competition. The Griffs shot 54.7 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc against a Rider team that's eighth nationally in three-point shooting percentage and cashed of 10 of 24 (41.7 percent) from afar. And it helped that Billy Baron forced the second OT with a conventional three-point play with 10.6 seconds left and nailed the decisive three just before the buzzer.

Player of the Game: At least for now Baron's 50th game as a Griff stands as his signature performance and the most compelling reason why he'll gain induction to the Canisius Hall of Fame with just two seasons of work. It wasn't just that he scored a career-high 38 points with 32 coming after halftime and 11 coming in the second overtime. He wasn't just that he tied the game at the end of the first OT with one of his trademark drives good for a three-point play. It wasn't just that he either scored or assisted on 23 of the final 25 Griff points in regulation. It was all those things and the fact he was 11 of 19 from the field, 12 of 13 from the line, and went for seven rebounds and seven assists. Might as well also mention he played 48 of the 50 minutes. 

Best Supporting Role: Someone tweeted that Jordan Heath's playing like UB's Mitchell Watt did late in his senior season. I can see it. The Griffs center has added a nastiness to his inside game. The 17 points were big. The school-record nine blocks were out of this world.

Best Player Losing Effort: In most any game in the MAAC Anthony Myles would have been the best player on the floor. He had a career-high 30 points and hit the corner three that appeared destined to force a third OT before Baron struck. And he works both ends. Really nice player.

And They're Just Rookies: Freshman Zach Lewis made his first career start and scored 12 points while playing 46 minutes. His two threes were integral to the comeback after Canisius fell behind nine with 10:20 remaining. Meanwhile, freshman Phil Valenti came off the bench for a foul-plagued Chris Manhertz and went for 12 points and a game-high nine points in 34 minutes. They were huge contributors.

The Last Time: Canisius last played a double overtime game on Dec. 16, 2009 at Duquesne.

Stat Check:Rider shot 60 percent from the floor in the OTs -- and lost. Because Canisius shot 72.7 percent.

Just Wondering: If this is the lowest combined rebounding total for a double OT game in the shot clock era. There were just 57, 31 of them by Canisius.

Moving On Up: This was career win No. 419 for Canisius coach Jim Baron, tying him with former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps on the all-time list. Baron was an assistant under Phelps.

What It Means: The Griffs improved to 10-5 overall and retained a share of the conference lead at 4-1. Rider slipped to 7-7, 3-2.

In the House: The question is, How many will say they were there the night Baron poured in 38? Only 1,226 can be believed.

Next Up: The Griffs host Monmouth at 2 Sunday afternoon while Rider heads over the bridge to Niagara for a 2 o'clock start at Taps.

-- Bob DiCesare

 

 

 

UB-NIU Game Wrap

UB 67, Northern Illinois 46

How UB Won: By recruiting better players. This shouldn't have been much of a game and it wasn't. But the Huskies are tougher at home and the Bulls pay DeKalb a visit on Jan. 25.

Turning Point: No one figured a secondary turning point would be forthcoming once UB jumped out to a 16-0 lead through six minutes. But who would have figured that Northern Illinois, a team that's won all of 16 games since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, would draw within four by halftime? When the Huskies did just that the onus was on UB to reestablish command. The Bulls answered with a 16-7 burst to start the second half. Josh Freelove and Javon McCrea keyed it.

Player of the Game: Consider it a positive for the Bulls that there are too many to chose from. Will Regan scored the night's first six points and finished with a game-high 15. Freelove made two big threes early in the second half to settle down the offense. McCrea attempted just five field goals but scored 14 points and set a career high with eight blocks. They all played integral roles.

What It Means: Mark Bobby Hurley down as a winner in his first conference game as a head coach. The Bulls are in a four-way tie for first in the East, improved to 7-4 overall and have won three straight.

Stat Check: Shannon Evans went on a tear during the game-opening run and totaled 11 points. He also had seven of UB's 16 turnovers in 23 minutes. The freshman will come to appreciate that it's not a negative  reflection on his ability to make the simple play. And that there's much better guard play in the MAC than what NIU brings to the floor.

Stat Check II: NIU hammered UB for 17 offensive rebounds and managed 14 more field goal attempts. UB has to clean that up. Like by Saturday.

Tech-nicalities: McCrea and Hurley both were hit with T's late in the first half. McCrea was booked for a dead-ball push. It was legit. Officials are cracking down on that kind of gamesmanship, subtle as it was.  Hurley was nailed for vehement argument after both coaches were previously warned to zip it. Yes, Hurley had a real beef or two. Evans it appeared was fouled launching a three but instead shot one-and-one because the foul was curiously deemed after the play. But Hurley will catch on that, for a MAC game, the crew did a pretty solid job. 

In the House: With students on break and tipoff pushed back to 9 p.m., a crowd of 1,520 on a Wednesday night isn't all that bad, relatively speaking. NIU left home Tuesday, over-nighted in Cleveland and then came into Buffalo. They asked to have the game moved to Thursday. UB resisted. So the game was moved to 9 p.m. for the Huskies even though they had a 6:45 a.m. flight home.

Next Up: Eastern Michigan (9-5) took its trademark zone to Bowling Green Wednesday night and knocked off the Falcons, 56-51. BG shot just 30 percent from the field and 18 percent from three. The Eagles visit Alumni at 2 Saturday and they're anything but an easy out. Four of their five losses are to ranked teams. The other was to Purdue. And EMU has size.

-- Bob DiCesare

UB-NIU Hoops Moved to 9 p.m.

By Bob DiCesare

Tonight's Mid-American Conference opener between UB and Northern Illinois at Alumni Arena has been moved back two hours to 9 p.m. The change was made by the conference in part as a concession to the Huskies, who left via bus yesterday from their campus west of Chicago, spent Tuesday night in the Cleveland area and were to arrive here today.

 

Canisius-UB Game Wrap

Canisius 69, UB 55

How Canisius Won: UB captured the first 28 minutes, 49-40. Canisius captured the last 12, 29-6, by pulverizing the Bulls in every facet of the game. UB made 3 of its last 17 shots trying to attack the Griffs zone from the perimeter. At the other end, Canisius went to the basket with a vengeance and made 55.6 percent of its second-half field goals. It was like watching Popeye after he downs his spinach.

Player of the Game: Billy Baron was his usual self, scoring a game-high 23 points. And because that's so typical of Baron the honor is free to go elsewhere, in this case to co-players of the game guard Chris Perez and forward Phil Valenti. It wasn't just that the two combined for 27 points and nine boards. It's that no one on UB could match their energy level. They were all over the court.

Leap Backward: UB has lost to both Canisius and Niagara in the same season for the first since since 2000-01. That was Reggie Witherspoon's first full year as coach and the program was in its MAC infancy.

Live By It, Die By It: UB pulled out Saturday's game against St. Bonaventure by nailing four straight threes late. This time they went just 2 of 16 from downtown in the second half while trying to solve the Canisius zone. UB is now shooting less than 30 percent from beyond the arc this season. And a long season it will be if that doesn't change because . . .

What Ever Happened To: Javon McCrea. One of the best players ever to wear a UB uniform has totaled three second-half field goal attempts over the last two games. Three. UB had better find ways to utilize him away from the basket or free up passing lanes underneath before his senior year goes to waste.

Noteworthy: Chris Manhertz's game-high nine rebounds were a season high. Four of them were on the offensive glass.

Convincingly: The Griffs have spanked opponents by 14 points or more during their three-game winning streak.

Stat Check: Canisius outscored UB 32-24 in the paint andattempted 25 free throws compared to just eight for UB. How times have changed.

What It Means:Canisius improved to 6-3 while UB fell to 4-3.

In the House: The paid attendance at First Niagara was 4,703. Or about what they'd get for a Little Three jv game back in the old days.

What's Next: Canisius heads to the big city Saturday to face St. Francis Brooklyn. UB is off until it hits the Barclays Center on Dec. 21 for a meeting with Manhattan, the preseason favorite in the MAAC.

-- Bob DiCesare

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare | bdicesare@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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