Griffs rebound from loss to Siena with largest MAAC win in 16 years

The Canisius bench cheers on a three-pointer.

The Canisius bench cheers on a three-pointer.

Eight days after trudging through 40 minutes of basketball and losing to last-place Siena on a shot at the buzzer, Canisius responded with the type of game you’d expect from a conference favorite against a depleted cellar-dweller.

The Griffs hit three-pointers against the Saints’ zone defense and scored in transition repeatedly. They passed well and shot well and did a phenomenal job of securing the ball, with a season-low four turnovers. The defense responded after a few sloppy performances by limiting Siena’s offensive threats and coming up with 13 steals.

The numbers say Canisius’ 76-44 dismantling of Siena was its largest conference win since 1997, but the eye test shows more: After a string of sloppy games, the Griffs put the pedal to the floor right from the start and never slowed down. They were prepared.

“Absolutely,” Isaac Sosa agreed. “We did a really good job today especially defensively against this team and understanding the scouting report. … We understood that today and we took pride in our defense.”

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Sosa bounces back to lead Griffs over Marist; Hymes suspended

Alshwan Hymes was suspended for Saturday's game and possibly longer. He is second all-time in three-pointers made by a Griffs.

Alshwan Hymes was suspended for Saturday’s game and possibly longer. He is second all-time in three-pointers made by a Griff. More below.

After an 0-fer night Thursday, Isaac Sosa rebounded with five three-pointers to lead Canisius past Marist, 73-64, Saturday in the Koessler Athletic Center to break the Griffs’ first losing streak under Jim Baron.

The win, Baron’s 399th as a Division I coach, kept Canisius on par with Niagara atop the MAAC standings and doubled its win total from last season.

“I was just ready,” Sosa said. “To be honest, I didn’t worry about [last game]. It’s not like any of us had a good game; we really struggled on Thursday. I was just being myself, being aggressive and letting my shots fly.”

Sosa led the Griffs with 22 points and jump-started the offense in the second half with four three-pointers in a two-minute stretch. Billy Baron had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Chris Manhertz nearly matched the feat, collecting 14 rebounds and adding nine points. Canisius never trailed in the game.

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Are we there yet? Griffs’ ninth win has signs things are moving in right direction

griffsalcorntipBilly Baron stood with the ball near midcourt Thursday night at the Koessler Athletic Center as the final eight seconds ticked off Canisius’ 87-74 defeat of Alcorn State when something unusual happened.

For the first time in a long time, fans stood up before the final horn sounded the end of a Canisius basketball game and applauded their team.

They cheered for Isaac Sosa, who couldn’t have been smoother on his way to 21 points. They cheered for Billy Baron, the first true quarterbacking point guard the Griffs have had in recent memory, who controls the tempo of the entire game.

They cheered for a team that could coast to victory on a night when second-leading scorer Harold Washington, bothered by a heel injury, didn’t even have to attempt a shot in his 20 minutes of play. They cheered for a coach who used timeouts to switch his defense not out of desperation but for strategy – and for how magnificently it worked, moving Jim Baron two wins shy of 400 on his career. Continue reading

Griffs vs. Longwood notebook: Balanced play, Chris Manhertz and ‘matador defense’

This story was originally written for The Griffin

This year’s Canisius team has great depth for a mid-major school. Not depth like Syracuse has, but depth that it will reap the rewards of come MAAC play. Monday night’s 82-54 win over Longwood was a great example of how many players can step up for the Griffs.

Harold Washington scored 30 points against Longwood last year and came into Monday’s game tied with Billy Baron for the team lead in scoring at 17.4 points per game.

Washington and Baron finished with only eight points Monday, and third-leading scorer Jordan Heath missed the game due to injury.

And the Griffs won by 28 points.

Here’s how:

— Three-point shooting

Isaac Sosa finished one shot off the school record for three-pointers made in a game (nine), set two years ago by Alshwan Hymes.

Sosa was 6 of 8 shooting for a game-high 24 points, a new career best for him in threes made (but not in scoring – he had 26 on Nov. 13, 2009 with UCF). Sosa had 12 points just 4½ minutes into the game and would’ve had a shot at the record if he didn’t sit for nine minutes straight in the first half (with no fouls).

Hymes added four three-pointers for the Griffs, who shot 46.4 percent from behind the arc (and 50 percent – 30 of 60 – from the field).

— Bench play

Even with Jordan Heath out, no Griff logged 30 minutes of game time. Powered by Hymes’ 18, Canisius’ bench outscored Longwood’s 35-4, with nice contributions from Reggie Groves (3 of 5 shooting and five assists) and FreddyAsprilla (4 of 5 shooting, five rebounds, a block and a steal), who played his best game of the season.

“He’s getting better,” Jim Baron said of Asprilla. “We talked today and I challenged him. Were gonna need him, especially his body and his physical-ness and his presence. Because as we play against these teams, everyone has a physical presence. We went in the league and Fairfield had a monster, Marist had [one], and it just takes the pressure off of Chris sometimes.”

— Chris Manhertz

Manhertz continues to be the unsung (and sometimes sung) hero of the team thus far, doing the dirty work on the glass and routinely outrebounding teammates that have several inches (and pounds) on him.

Manhertz was 6 of 8 from the field Monday, the most field goals he’s made since Jan. 7 last season. Most of his opportunities came from his five offensive rebounds, giving him higher-percentage shots. He just missed a double-double with 13 points and 9 rebounds.

On Jordan Heath’s injury:

Heath nursed a sore ankle against Syracuse Saturday and took a rest day Monday in advance of Wednesday’s contest against Temple (8-1; only loss to No. 2 Duke).

“I don’t know,” Coach Baron replied quickly when asked if Heath will be ready for Wednesday. “He didn’t play tonight, we’ll ice him up tomorrow and take it one game at a time.”

They said it:

The Griffs have drawn 19 charges this season, already passing last year’s mark. Here’s part of Baron’s quote when asked about his big men giving up the body for the team.

“…When our guards play matador defense – you know what matador defense is? When the guy goes like this, ole, and the guy goes right by him – we have to cover down and our bigs have to step in and take charges. So our guards have to do a better job of keeping guys in front so we don’t have to have 300-pound guys taking charges.”

Milestones and notes:

–Jim Baron won his 397th career game, though his chase for 400 is dwarfed by Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim reaching 900 wins Monday.

–Canisius’ 7-2 start is the best to open the season for Canisius since the 1966-67 team went 8-1.

Other thoughts:

–Canisius got new jerseys this season, keeping road blues and switching from gold to white at home. Monday the Griffssported an alternate white jersey, which got mostly good reviews.

Kevin Sylvester called the game for Time Warner. Lockout problems…

–Saturday’s loss against Syracuse wasn’t all bad, as the strength-of-schedule bump actually moved Canisius up in theRPI rankings – all the way the No. 30.

–Chris Manhertz needs a nickname.

–Announced attendance for the game, against Longwood (who?), with students on break, was 1,205. How bout that?

Follow on Twitter: @NickVeronica