Canisius to face former Niagara coach Mihalich

By Nick Veronica

Canisius basketball will open the 2015-16 season against former Niagara coach Joe Mihalich at Hofstra on Nov. 13, the Griffs announced Friday in their nonconference schedule release.

CCLogobigThe Griffs get return games against Lehigh and Cornell at the Koessler Athletic Center in November before going to St. Bonaventure on Nov. 24 on UB on Nov. 28. Boston University comes to the KAC on Dec. 19. The Griffs close the nonconference schedule with a Jan. 12 return game at Dartmouth, which Canisius beat in last year’s CIT, 87-72.

Opponents for the Las Vegas Classic were announced last week.

Full Canisius nonconference schedule

Friday, Nov. 13 at Hofstra, TBA
Monday, Nov. 16 vs. Lehigh, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 21 vs. Cornell, TBA
Tuesday, Nov. 24 vs. St. Bonaventure
Saturday, Nov. 28 at Buffalo, TBA
Thursday, Dec. 10 at Penn State*, TBA
Saturday, Dec. 12 at Kent State*, TBA
Saturday, Dec. 19 vs. Boston University, 2 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 22 vs. Louisiana-Monroe*, 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 23 vs. Nicholls State or Hampton, TBA*
Tuesday, Jan 12 at Dartmouth, TBA

*Las Vegas Classic games

More to come.


Postgame video: Canisius 87, Dartmouth 72 (CIT)

By Nick Veronica

People said some words after Wednesday’s basketball game and I filmed them for you.

Canisius coach Jim Baron

If we had Jim Baron Press Conference Bingo, “we were picked 10th” would be given a prominent square. (“We knew it was gonna be a battle” would probably serve as the free space.)

Sorry about the guy next to me clacking his keyboard.

Canisius guards Zach Lewis and Jamal Reynolds

Wednesday was the first time this season that two Griffs scored 20 or more points. Reynolds had a career-best 22 and Lewis had 20.

The players went out of their way to thank Canisius athletic director Bill Maher for letting them play in the tournament. Interesting.

Dartmouth’s Paul Cormier and Alex Mitola

Wednesday’s game was Dartmouth’s first post-season appearance since the 1959 NCAA Tournament.

Immediate reactions: Canisius 87, Dartmouth 72 (CIT first round)

Dartmouth 26 46 — 72
Canisius 38 49 — 87

By Nick Veronica

What it means: With the victory, Canisius advanced to the second round of the Tournament. The Griffs will go on the road for the next round, facing Bowling Green at 1 p.m. Saturday. Canisius could possibly host another game if it advances further; bracket play begins in the third round.

Canisius is now 3-2 in postseason play in the last three years under Jim Baron (all in the CIT).

How it happened: Jamal Reynolds scored a career-high 22 points and Zach Lewis had 20, marking the first time all year two Griffs scored 20 points or more (it last happened in the 111-100 CIT loss to VMI a year ago). Wednesday was also the first time this year five Griffs scored in double figures, with Josiah Heath scoring 14, Kassius Robertson scoring 13 and Jeremiah Williams adding 10.

Lewis played one of his best games of the season Wednesday, scoring his 20 points on 7 of 13 field goals (53.8%) and 4 of 7 three-pointers (57.1%), both of which were his highest percentages of the season.

The game was tied 23-23 at the final media timeout of the first half before Canisius closed the half on a 15-3 run to lead 38-26 at the break. Canisius opened a 54-33 lead early in the second half before an 11-0 Dartmouth run helped cut the lead to 10 points with about 12 minutes to go. The Big Green hung around and got the deficit to single digits in the final minute but were never within striking distance.

[Tournament loss shouldn’t overshadow Griffs’ progress]

30-second shot clock: The NIT, CIT and CBI are all testing 30-second shot clocks, down from the usual 35 seconds. The Griffs are in favor of the change, though Dartmouth had a much easier time with the shorter timespan Wednesday. By my count, Canisius committed three shot clock violations and forced up four desperation shots while Dartmouth was only called for a shot clock violation once. The faster pace of the game did help Canisius score a season-high 83 points.

Heath, Bleeker banged up: Josiah Heath started the game wearing a face mask to protect a broken nose. I’m told he sustained the injury in the MAAC Tournament loss to Monmouth when Kevin Bleeker took a charge and fell back into him, and then he re-injured the nose in practice this week when Reynolds bumped into him. Heath wore the mask for about 10 minutes before deciding to play without it.

Bleeker hurt his left ankle Wednesday, landing funny in the first half but having to limp off in the second half. He would return to action but was obviously in pain and sat out once the lead was safe.

Long time no see: Wednesday’s game ended Dartmouth’s 56-year postseason drought. The Big Green’s last postseason appearance was the 1959 NCAA Tournament. Dartmouth ended the year 14-15.

Gurley out: Isaiah Gurley was not on the bench Wednesday because he returned home due to a death in the family. Gurley will be a redshirt freshman next season.

[RELATED: Obama picks UB to upset WVU]

Random fact: In 857 games as a head coach, Wednesday was Jim Baron’s first game against Dartmouth.

Vegas line: At tip, Vegas Insder has Canisius -3, over/under 131.5. Canisius covered, total was 159.

Next: Canisius goes to Bowling Green for a 1 p.m. Saturday game.

Griffs looking forward to 30-second shot clock in CIT

By Nick Veronica

Where Zach Lewis grew up in Connecticut, there was no shot clock in high school basketball. A rival school was known for going into a four-corners offense in close games to help time tick away. College ball provided Lewis with a 35-second shot clock, but even that can feel too slow.

In Wednesday’s CIT game against Dartmouth, Lewis and his Canisius teammates will be one of the first teams to experiment with a 30-second shot clock, which will be tested this month in the NIT, CIT and CBI tournaments. Data from these games will be presented to the men’s basketball rules committee in May for a possible change across the entire NCAA.

CCLogobigLewis says a shorter shot clock can’t come soon enough.

“More shots, more shots for everybody,” the sophomore said. “I think [five seconds] will definitely make a difference. Hopefully the NCAA will make that change and put it to 30 seconds.

“It’s more exciting,” Lewis added. “Definitely more up-and-down. That’s something we definitely want to do.”

Canisius coach Jim Baron has the words “Runnin’ Griffs” written on his office window. This year’s team may not have the players to run as much as Baron would like — Canisius ranks 265th in KenPom’s adjusted tempo — but that’s the style Baron strives to play.

“I think it’s great,” Baron said of the 30-second clock. “It doesn’t bother us much at all. I think it’s exciting. You gotta get the ball down and you gotta be ready to score the ball.”

Baron would be in favor of reducing the 35-second shot clock next season.

“I think 30 is good,” he said. “I think 30 makes sense. Most teams have really gravitated to playing fast. I like it just because I think kids enjoy it and it helps scoring. I’m a scoring coach. I like to score points.

“It’s evolving more into a spectators’ game,” Baron added. “I think spectators want to see more scoring, and they want to see high-scoring players. So I think it’s going to happen more and more as we move forward.”

As for Wednesday’s game, Lewis said picking up the pace has been “a big emphasis” this week.

Zach Lewis

Zach Lewis

“We’re out here in practice just running around, trying to play fast but also play smart as well,” Lewis said. “It’s definitely going to be exciting.”

Both Baron and Lewis pointed to rebounding as the key to a good transition game.

“Defensive rebounds,” Lewis said. “That’s been our motto really all year. We gotta continue to be gritty, we gotta play together on defense and we gotta rebound. We’re not the biggest team but if all five guys try to crash the glass I think we’ll be all right.”

Canisius and Dartmouth tip off at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Should Canisius win, the Griffs will go on the road for the CIT’s second round.