By Nick Veronica
What it means: Both of Canisius’ opponents on this road trip were able to limit Billy Baron’s effectiveness — and both lost by double digits. Baron had his second down game in a row Saturday at Fairifeld but Canisius showed it can win without him pouring in points. Zach Lewis was effective at times and Canisius’ inside game flexed its muscles while the outside shooting went cold (29.4 percent), with Chris Manhertz and Jordan Heath combining for 23 points. Baron still came back to lead the team with 17 points while every Griff scored at least two points in an easy win.
Solid homecoming for Lewis: Canisius freshman Zach Lewis, a native of Windsor, Conn., had two productive games in a row near his hometown, scoring 17 points Thursday at Quinnipiac in Hamden, Conn. and 11 Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn. He could’ve scored even more in this game if he didn’t pick up his third foul with 6:41 left in the first half. Canisius is now 7-1 since Lewis joined the starting lineup.
He’s not wrong.
What happened to Fairfield? The Stags have been one of the top teams in the conference over the last few years, before slipping to 9-9 last season. But this year the Stags are sweeping out the cellar with a 1-10 record (although the win was against Manhattan). Coach Sydney Johnson attributed it a little to “The Derek Needham Effect,” the slump after graduating one of the best players in school history (and noted Canisius killer), but Fairfield is also a very young team with just one senior and two juniors. As they say, it’s all cyclic in college sports.
Manhertz heating up: When I joined the Canisius radio halftime show a few weeks back, we talked about team rebounding being an area of concern for the team. I said Chris Manhertz usually gets hot later in the season and I expected his stats to crank up over the next few weeks. He had his 12th career double-double Saturday with 14 points and 10 rebounds and only picked up two fouls. Over the last four games, Manhertz is averaging 12 points and 9.25 rebounds, and he has been to the free-throw line 25 times, the most in a four-game stretch in his career (and he’s made 23 of them).
Scoring list: Baron’s 17 points bring his average down to 23.7 points per game, which will keep him in fourth place nationally, just ahead of Texas Southern’s Aaric Murray (23.6). Baron had been third nationally but was jumped by BYU’s Tyler Haws, who scored 38 points on Thursday.
Stock up: Dominique Raney. Raney’s play had dropped since coming out of the starting lineup about four weeks ago, but the sophomore scored 9 and 15 points in two games this weekend, making 9 of 14 shots (.643). Canisius coach Jim Baron has mentioned Raney’s improved play recently and it seems to finally be showing on the scoresheet.
Stock down: Chris Perez. The senior was ice cold Saturday, taking a season-high 16 shots but making only two. Passing seemed like it would’ve been a better option in this game, but he finished with only two assists. (Speaking of cold, the Canisius radio broadcast noted several times that it was exceptionally cold at the Webster Bank Arena, with players sometimes blowing on their hands before free throws and people in the stands keeping hats and jackets on. The arena does double as a hockey rink.)
Upcoming: Canisius has a huge homestand next weekend, hosting Manhattan on Friday (ESPNU) and Iona Sunday. The radio broadcast said there were only 30 reserve tickets remaining for Sunday’s game.
Noteworthy: Canisius is now on a four-game winning streak, its longest of the season, and has a half-game lead in the MAAC.Follow @nickveronica