|Jim Baron has orchestrated the turnaround at Canisius/ AP Photo|
Who: Canisius (12-7, 5-3) at Rider (11-9, 6-2).
When: 7 p.m., Friday, Alumni Gymnasium, 107.7 FM The Bronc.
Last time out: Rider def. Iona, 67-62; Canisius def. Siena,
Background: The Golden Griffins are one of the surprise
stories of the season.
After winning five games — just one in the MAAC — a year
ago, new coach Jim Baron has guided Canisius to an impressive turnaround.
“I did know that we had some talented guys,” said Baron,
referencing second team all-league selection Harold Washington, the lone bright
spot from a 5-25 season. “I think a lot of it is a wait and see attitude to see
how it gels.”
Baron recently picked up his 400th career coaching victory,
doing so at four less-fancied schools — St. Francis (Pa.), St. Bonaventure,
Rhode Island and Canisius.
He got a boost when his son, Billy, followed him to Buffalo
from Rhode Island and was granted a waiver to play immediately.
Billy leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.4 points per
“You have to focus on him,” said Rider coach Kevin Baggett,
before adding he’s not the only player that the Griffs can hurt you with. “They
have a couple guys on that team that can really shoot it. They shoot the 3
effectively. That’s a big concern for me in this game.”
The Broncs rank 10th nationally in 3-point defense with
opponents shooting just 27.7 percent against them (4.9 made 3s per game).
Canisius is connecting on 39 percent of its attempts from
behind the arc, averaging 9.2 makes per game.
Since joining the MAAC, Rider is 27-7 against the Griffs,
including 3-1 in postseason. The Broncs have also had their way at Alumni Gym,
winning 14 of 15 meetings here. Canisius’ lone win was during the 2010-11
Baggett is still weary of the visitors from upstate New
“This is a different Canisius team. This is a really
talented team,” Baggett said. “This is a complete team. I know they are better
at home, but this is still a dangerous team. They’re similar to Iona, maybe not
as many weapons, but we have our work cut out for us.”
Rider is in a three-way tie for second place with Iona and
Loyola at 6-2, one game behind Niagara. Canisius is in fifth at 5-3.
“I would have signed on for that anytime,” Baggett said. “We
went from five straight losses to five wins in a row. You have to take the
highs with the lows, but you have to stay out of losing streaks.”
With a victory, the Broncs can extend their winning streak
to six, a number they last hit in 2010-11 when they beat the Griffs in the
quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament.
Projected starting lineups: Rider: G-Jon Thompson (Sr. 11.2
ppg), G-Anthony Myles (Jr. 12.5 ppg), G-Tommy Pereira (Jr. 4.6 ppg), F-Danny
Stewart (Jr. 11.3 ppg), C-Dera Nd-Ezuma (Sr. 2.3 ppg).
Canisius: G-Harold Washington (Sr. 13.3 ppg), G-Billy Baron
(Jr. 16.4 ppg), G-Isaac Sosa (Sr. 12.7 ppg), F-Chris Manhertz (Jr. 6.9 ppg),
C-Jordan Heath (Jr. 9.6 ppg).