By Nick Veronica
Canisius doesn’t rebound very well but wins games anyway. That puts the team in an interesting spot heading into this weekend’s conference tournament.
Will their rebounding woes finally catch up with them? Are they talented enough to give up that advantage? Or have they adapted their game to survive without an important resource?
Jim Baron said in December that his team’s inability to rebound was “going to haunt us if we don’t take care of it.” Now it’s March and the Griffs have finished the season with the worst average in the conference, collecting just 33.35 rebounds per game.
Looking at the last dozen MAAC seasons, not one conference tournament winner was also the league’s worst rebounding team. The MAAC champion over that time has never finished lower than eighth in rebounding. In seven of the last 12 years, the champion was a top-three rebounding team.
Over that same time period, no team that finished last in the conference in rebounding even made it to the semifinals. Most didn’t even make it out of the play-in game, so in this sense the Griffs are lucky to be seeded as high as they are.
Looking deeper into those eighth-place rebounding finishes from past champions, their per-game rebounding averages are similar to Canisius’, but not quite as low. The 2008 Siena team that won the championship averaged 33.9 rebounds per game. Manhattan averaged 34.6 per game when it won the title in 2003 and only improved to 34.9 when it repeated in 2004.
None of that bodes well for the Griffs — but then again, no team that finished last in rebounding in this timespan has earned as seed as high as they did, either.
Canisius opens the tournament Saturday as a 4-seed, taking on Siena.
Canisius was 10-3 this season when tied or ahead on rebounds, but 10-8 when the opponent had more rebounds. Both Chris Manhertz and Jordan Heath are averaging fewer rebounds per game as seniors compared to their junior seasons. They’ll need to step up against Siena, which has used a collective team effort to become the MAAC’s second-best rebounding team. Brett Bisping leads the Saints at only 6.3 rebounds per game while Imoh Silas and Rob Poole both average 5.2.
Other notes and links
- Siena got the better of these two teams the last time they met in the tournament, a 77-52 victory in 2009. But Canisius owns the record for largest margin of victory in a MAAC Tournament game, thanks to an 84-44 win over Siena on March 1, 1997.
- This year’s Iona team, in all likelihood, is going to set the MAAC record for three-pointers per game. The Gaels are averaging 10.4 treys a night, almost one per game better than conference record-holder La Salle, which made 9.48 per game in 1992. Last year’s Canisius team is second on that list at 9.21 three-pointers per game.
- The guys over at NYC Buckets ran 10,000 simulations for the MAAC Tournament, and their most-likely outcome was Manhattan beating Iona for the title. Canisius won the championship about 14 percent of the time.
- Play-in games are Thursday night at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Give me Rider over Monmouth, Marist over Niagara, and why not, Fairfield over Saint Peter’s.
I’m heading down for the tournament this weekend. Check back for live blogs and coverage of all the action here and on Twitter. Follow @nickveronica
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