Siena coach Patsos: ‘Baron’s got a chance to play in the league’

Billy Baron in the NBA? That’s what Siena coach Jimmy Patsos had to say after Canisius’ 93-78 win in the Koessler Athletic Center.

“I told these guys Baron’s a great player. Baron’s got a chance to play in the league,” Patsos said. “Baron has a chance to play in the NBA. I think Billy Baron could be a backup point guard in the NBA because he really knows how to play.”

Baron had a career-high 13 assists and led all players with 21 points. Patsos heaped on more praise when discussing the defensive dilemma Baron presented because he was just as willing to pass the ball as he was to take it to the hoop.

“If you can’t stop [someone] from getting in the lane, then you’re not going to stop shooters because [your defenders] have to eventually help or they’ll be a layup line,” Patsos said. “When they go driving by us, that’s why I think Billy Baron is better than people think. I think he’s really got a lot of talent, because he can shoot and really knows the game.

“I like guys that … are saying if the defense is there, I’ll pass it. That’s a unique guy,” Patsos added. “That’s when you can play at the next level. He did a great job of that today I thought.”

Baron passed off the praise when asked about it during his interview session.

“I appreciate the compliment. But my teammates made me look really good today,” Baron said. “Yeah, I got them the ball, but those guys were hitting shots. They made me look really good today.”

But Patsos was sold.

“Being a willing passer is underrated, especially when you’re the best player on the team,” he said. “My hats off, they beat us badly. … He’s on the verge of becoming a great player, and I’ve seen great players in this league.”

The last Canisius player to play in the NBA was Mike Smrek (Class of ’85), who won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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