Baron loves Griffs’ willpower – Postgame interviews: Canisius 98, Lehigh 89

By Nick Veronica

Canisius is only two games into the 2015-16 season, but Jim Baron already thinks this year’s Griffs have “more will” than any team he’s coached in his 29-year career.

“We got will. That’s the one thing I think: this team has more will than any team I’ve ever had,” Baron said after Canisius’ 98-89 comeback win over Lehigh Monday night at the Koessler Athletic Center.

“We play with a lot of intensity and a lot of grit. To be honest, that’s the type of team I love to coach. Because you do it on heart, soul, grit, all the dirty points.”

Baron doesn’t throw compliments like that around lightly, but there was plenty for him to be proud of Monday.

Kevin Bleeker drew a charge in the final minute that forced Lehigh’s best player out of the game. Jamal Reynolds had 10 offensive rebounds. Malcolm McMillan got hammered twice on the way to the basket in key situations, but got the shot to fall both times before taking on the free throws.

The end result was a nine-point victory over Patriot League favorite Lehigh, which stayed within 10 points of Syracuse in their game Friday.

“We made shots when we needed to make shots and we got rebounds when we needed to get rebounds,” Baron said. “This was an excellent win for us.”

Here’s Baron’s full press conference. (Sorry in advance for Baron reclining behind the mic cube midway through the video 🙂 )

On forward Cassidy Ryan, whose father died last Thursday, Baron said: “We did it for Mr. Ryan. I told our guys, we’re doing it for Cassidy’s dad.”

Baron also talked about coaching the father of Lehigh center Tim Kempton (Tim Kempton Sr.), when he was at Notre Dame.

Canisius’ Phil Valenti, Malcolm McMillan

Canisius guard Malcolm McMillan said he’d never had back-to-back 30-point games before.

“All season I just worked extremely hard on my jump shot, and it’s showing. Even tonight … I was 2 for 7 (on 3-pointers), but I put a lot of work on it and it’s paying off.”

Asked about Ryan, Valenti and McMillan both said: “That game was for him.”

“We played our hearts and soul out for him,” Valenti said. “He’s a tough kid. It’s … too bad. I mean, not much to say about that. He’s great for coming back and being with us. I can’t say much more about that. God bless him.”

Lehigh coach Brett Reed

“When they came up empty with there possessions, Reynolds was there to grab an extra rebound,” Reed said.


Chris Manhertz signs with Saints practice squad

By Nick Veronica

The New Orleans Saints signed tight end Chris Manhertz to their practice squad Sunday, Manhertz confirmed to IAGS.

Manhertz, the former Canisius basketball player, opened training camp with the Buffalo Bills but was cut Aug. 19. He cleared waivers and was picked up by New Orleans the following week.

The Saints kept two tight ends on their 53-man roster, veteran Ben Watson and third-year man Josh Hill.

Practice squad players this season will earn $6,600 per week, as determined by the collective bargaining agreement, which equals out to $112,200 if the player remains on practice squad for all 17 weeks.

Manhertz, 23, did not appear on the stat sheet in any preseason games.

Point guard Grzelinski leaves Canisius; looking at D-II or overseas

By Nick Veronica

Canisius point guard Jan Grzelinski has left the program after one season, team sources confirmed to IAGS.



The Polish national is expected to try to land at a Division II school so he won’t have to sit out this season, but is also open the possibility of playing professionally in Poland.

A source said Grzelinski is looking at schools in Florida and California.

The 5-foot-10 guard was facing limited playing time this year after coach Jim Baron brought in veteran transfers Malcolm McMillan and Kiefer Douse.

Grzelinski opened last season as the Griffs’ starting point guard, but struggled with consistency and offensive production as a true freshman. His play time dropped as a result, and he was replaced in the starting lineup late in the year.

Appearing in 32 games, Grzelinski scored just 2.0 points per game, but was second on the team with 60 assists. He added 11 steals and committed 42 turnovers.

Grzelinski’s departure gives coach Jim Baron one more scholarship to use for 2015-16. Since Baron has already pulled in two experienced guards, I would expect him to target a forward with this opening. Here’s the Griffs current roster:


Kassius Robertson
Malcolm McMillan
Kiefer Douse
Jamal Reynolds
Adam Weir
Raven Owen
Isaiah Gurley


Phil Valenti
Kevin Bleeker
Jermaine Crumpton
Cassidy Ryan
Ronald Gombe

Shannon Evans commits to Arizona State, reuniting with Hurley

By Nick Veronica



Former UB guard Shannon Evans will follow Bobby Hurley to Arizona State, committing to be a Sun Devil on Friday afternoon. CBS first reported the news.

Evans is in Arizona this weekend visiting the school. (Hurley would never hear the end of it if he let Evans leave without committing.)

Evans seemed to be enjoying himself in Arizona.

UB initially told Evans it would block him from transferring to Arizona State, but changed course after a meeting between Evans and athletic director Danny White.

Evans will have to sit out next season but has two years of eligibility remaining.

Manhattan’s Andujar suspended vs. Canisius

By Nick Veronica



Manhattan’s leading scorer Emmy Andujar (13.2 points per game) will serve a one-game suspension Sunday against Canisius, Manhattan’s athletic department confirmed to IAGS.

Andujar picked up a flagrant-2 foul Friday at Niagara, which carries a suspension. He will be back in the lineup Wednesday when Manhattan takes on Saint Peter’s.

Andujar, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, was a Preseason Second Team All-MAAC selection.

Manhattan started Shane Richards, Ashton Pankey, RaShawn Stores, Rich Williams and Donovan Kates.