---Canisius College placed as 4-6 week window to hire Tom Parrotta’s replacement and the process appears to be on schedule.
Canisius AD Bill Maher, with the help of Bill Carr Associates, is narrowing his list of candidates, which includes former St. Bonaventure coach Jim Baron, according to multiple sources. The list also includes Norfolk State’s Anthony Evans and Bob Walsh, the former San Diego and Iona assistant now at Division III Rhode Island College, according to sources. All have head coaching experience which Maher desires.
Baron, who coached at St. Bonaventure from 1992-01, had four consecutive 20-win seasons at Rhode Island before last season’s 7-24 finish and was fired a year after he agreed to a contract extension through the 2013-14 season. He has a career record of 390-367 (.515).
After leading Norfolk State to its first MEAC championship, Evans led the school to an upset win over Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. A native of Brooklyn, Norfolk State has seven New York natives on its roster.
Walsh just completed his seventh season at RIC where he’s made seven consecutive trips to the postseason and six straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
---The Bonnies appear loose and carefree, apparently because they've heaped all the pressure on Florida State.
“Florida State is supposed to win,’’ Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said. “They got the pressure on them. Going into the Atlantic 10 Tournament, we weren’t supposed to win that. I think when you go out there and play like it’s a pickup game, you have a better chance. You don’t have that monkey on your back. We’ve got some good players that play well together but when you play loose, you have a better chance. That’s not to say we’re going to win, but no one has expected us to be here.’’
---NASHVILLE, Tenn. -One of the main attractions to St. Bonaventure for guard Matthew Wright, in addition being close to his home in Toronto, was the presence of Andrew Nicholson.
Guards like to play with talented big men – they free up space to shoot, make them look better on assists, clog up the middle when they get beaten defensively, etc. – and Nicholson forced NBA scouts to come to Olean to watch practice, giving his teammates exposure as well.
“As a guard, you want to affiliate yourself with a good big man and me knowing that he’s getting a lot of looks by NBA team, he draws the NBA scouts to practice,’’ Wright said. “If you practice well, they also see you.’’
Point guard Charlon Kloof said it was one of the greatest moments when coach Mark Schmidt informed the team that scouts were in attendance.
“At first you’re nervous, but then that’s why I like my seniors that much and my coaches so they’ll walk you through it,’’ Kloof said. “Once you’re comfortable, then it’s over but it’s a great experience.’’
---Phil Valenti, a 6-7 senior forward from Aquinas High School in Rochester, has given a verbal commitment to attend Canisius College, according to a source.
Valenti averaged 17 points, 11 rebounds and four assists while helping Aquinas (23-2) reach the Class A state semifinals last season. Valenti was also offered scholarships to Boston University, Hofstra and Central Connecticut State.
Canisius had a scholarship available when incoming freshman Jose Agosto didn’t qualify academically. The 6-5, 215-pound Agosto signed with Canisius last spring.
Don't look for the University at Buffalo to become part of the frenetic conference shifts that recently saw Syracuse and Pitt gain acceptance to the ACC. The expenses of operating at a higher conference level, such as the Big East, would double or triple the university's athletic budget, AD Warde Manuel told me today. Plus there's the issue of how long it would take UB to be competitive in those conferences, especially given the long journey to competitiveness the school has endured in the Mid-American Conference.
On the surface a shift to a conference like the Big East seems ultra-attractive, especially if there's a football merger between the Big East and the remainder of the Big 12. And Manuel said the Bulls would listen if approached. But there's much to consider and what seems logical could in fact send the athletic program backwards. It's one thing to be in the Big East, another to be a perpetual Big East doormat. I like the slow, measured approach Manuel's taking here. He's a Michigan guy. No doubt that all things being equal he'd push UB to a higher level. But it's his job to do what's best for the university and chasing status at a prohibitive price and perhaps at the expense of competitiveness doesn't seem to make great sense.
Football is the fuel behind all these moves and one really has to wonder if games against the likes of Kansas, Iowa State, Louisville and Cincinnati would be any more attractive to Buffalo's college football fans than games against Kent State, Temple and the like. Ditto basketball. Yes, St. John's, G'town, Louisville have their appeal -- but at $40 a ticket. College sports have been a hard sell in Buffalo since the end of the Murphy-Lanier era 40 years ago.
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.
Rodney McKissic began his journalism career in 1989 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and has worked for The Buffalo News since 2001. A proud father of four children, he enjoys reading in his spare time.
Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, hhas 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.