Canisius vs. Lamar gameday 12/21/13

Canisius hosts Lamar at the Koessler Center in a Griff doubleheader this afternoon. The women tip off against Quinnipiac at 2 p.m., with the men to follow at about 4:15.

The teams: Canisius: 7-4, 2-0 MAAC, 3-0 home. RPI: 115. Streak: Won one and four of their last five.

Lamar Cardinals: 1-9, 0-0 Southland, 0-4 road. RPI: 344 (out of 351). Streak: Lost six straight.

Previous game: Billy Baron had a season-high 31 points and matched a career-best nine rebounds to lead an 83-73 victory over Holy Cross on Monday.

Lamar gave up a three-pointer with one second left and lost to LIU-Brooklyn, 82-79, on Wednesday. Guard Nimrod Hilliard and forward Rhon Mitchell scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, for the Cardinals.

About LamarLamar ranks near the bottom of the country in RPI and gives up, on average, 11.1 more points than it scores. The Cardinals’ only win this season was against Savannah State, which is 0-10 against Division I teams (coincidentally, I saw Savannah State play earlier this year against Robert Morris … not good). As a team, Lamar actually shoots a higher percentage than Canisius (.443 to .441), but score effects likely have a hand in that, with opponents relaxing on defense when they’re up by a bunch. Where the Cardinals really lack is defense (their opponents shoot 49.0 percent from the field) and rebounding (averaging only 31.2 per game).

Hillard leads the team at 15.8 points per game, with Amos Wilson (13.4 ppg), Donovan Ross (11.1) and Mitchell (9.8) chipping in. Lamar is coached by Pat Knight, son of legendary coach Bob Knight. Hopefully no chairs will be thrown.

Series history: Canisius and Lamar have met only once, with Canisius winning 78-72, nearly three years ago to the day (it was 12/22/10).

The takeaway: The Griffs really need to use this game to get their bigs back on track. Rebounding has been a huge issue this season, with Chris Manhertz leading the team at only 5.5 rebounds per game. Billy Baron was the leading rebounder in each of the last two games. That’s great for him, but the trend must stop. After today’s game, Canisius faces Notre Dame and then gets into conference play. If Manhertz and Jordan Heath can’t be forces on the glass against Lamar, that paints a bleak picture for the future, because it only gets harder from here.

I’ll have a live blog up at the Buffalo News around 4:15 p.m.