Gameday: Canisius vs. Daemen (exhibition) 11/11/14

Daemen at Canisius (exhibition), 7 p.m., Koessler Athletic Center

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By Nick Veronica

Canisius Golden Griffins: 0-0 overall, 1-0 exhibitions.
Daemen Wildcats: 0-0.

Keep an eye on: Continue to monitor who plays point guard for the Griffs. True freshman Jan Grzelinski started at the point in the first exhibition earlier this month and did decent. Kassius Robertson and Jeremiah Williams should also see time there. For Grzelinski, showing that he can distribute and effectively run the offense is more important Tuesday than showing his three-point touch or ability to drive the lane. Clean up the defense and prove you belong first, worry about lighting up the scoreboard later.

Valenti status: Projected starting forward Phil Valenti missed the first exhibition game due to an ankle sprain. The Griffin reported that he returned to practice last Thursday and should see some minutes in tonight’s game. “If it were up to me, I would be out there,” Valenti said.

I’m less optimistic we’ll see Raven Owen, who suffered a stress fracture in his foot earlier this preseason. This should be the final game of Jermaine Crumpton’s suspension.

Daemen coach Mike MacDonald

New Daemen coach Mike MacDonald

Familiar face: Mike MacDonald makes his return to the Koessler Athletic Center tonight in his first game as Daemen coach. MacDonald was an assistant at Canisius from 1989-97 and the head coach from 1998-2006, winning 20 games in the 2000-01 season. He then coached at Medaille before being hired away by Daemen, which is making the jump from NAIA to Division II this year. His son Matt plays Division I for Fairleigh Dickinson.

Player to watch: Daemen’s 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward Gerald Beverly was an all-conference selection for the Wildcats last year and was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged a double-double at 18.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game and blocked 111 shots. The Gates-Chili High School product led all players with 24 points and 10 rebounds in last year’s exhibition against Canisius (a 102-84 Griffs win). If Beverly is in Beast Mode again tonight, Jim Baron might ask him to switch teams at halftime.

Sooo, Canisius should win, right?: Right. This is a tune-up. Canisius should win by double-figures. Anything less is cause for concern, just like giving up a game-tying attempt the buzzer should have been in the first exhibition. Jim Baron is going to say Daemen is a “great team” that “has some players” no matter what happens, but a tight game against a D-II team with a new coach is a red flag for any Division I team. (Come to think of it, Baron has already said “Daemen’s gonna be a good team. They got all their players back.”)

Wild card: Check out this dunk Cassidy Ryan posted on Instagram:

How to follow the game: I’ll have updates on Twitter and a blog after the game, and you should probably follow Big 4 Talk’s Jonathan Snyder, too. GoGriffs.com will have live stats, but no word yet on a radio broadcast. Tweet with #Griffs to join the discussion.

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