Billy Baron to play for Detroit Pistons in NBA Summer League

By Nick Veronica

Former Canisius star Billy Baron will play in the NBA Summer League for the second year in a row, this season suiting up with the Detroit Pistons squad.

The news was first reported by Lithuanian site lrytas.lt, an outlet that covers Baron’s European team Lietuvos Rytas.

The Canisius-Pistons connections are deep. Head coach Stan Van Gundy is former Canisius assistant. Assistant general manager Jeff Nix played at Canisius from 1976-79 and was later an assistant coach. Perhaps most importantly, Pistons general manager Jeff Bower coached one season at Marist and was impressed with Baron’s game.

Here’s what Bower told me about Baron’s NBA outlook in January 2014 during Baron’s senior season:

I think he’s terrific as a player now. I think the way he plays the game are things that a lot of teams will really like. I never slot a guy at this time of the year, honestly, because you don’t know the draft and how many people are going to be involved in it.

But I know this: He’s a winner. He’s got skills, he’s got size, he’s got deep shooting ability, he’s got playmaking ability, and he is a competitor. And I know those are all qualities that every NBA team would value and do their research and see. When it’s all said and done, I would expect him to be rated or ranked ahead of a lot of guys. I think he’s the type of kid that helps your team and is gonna have the poise to compete and help a team.

It’s too early, honestly. The people that are talking now are usually guys that aren’t involved in decision making, [guys] that are saying where people are going. But he would be a guy that a lot of people are excited about and want to dig very deep to find out about, in my opinion.

Summer League games begin next month. Here’s a game-by-game look at how Baron did last summer with the Chicago Bulls.

Marist names Mike Maker basketball coach, replacing Jeff Bower

By Nick Veronica

Mike Maker

Mike Maker

Mike Maker was named the new basketball coach at Marist today, filling the void created when Jeff Bower left earlier this month to become the general manager of the Detroit Pistons.

Maker comes from Division III Williams College, where he put up an impressive 147-32 record in six years as head coach while reaching two national championship games.

Maker has 26 years of head coaching experience, including 17 as a Division I assistant. He worked under former Canisius coach John Beilein at West Virginia from 2005-07. This is Maker’s first Division I head coaching job.

Marist’s Executive Vice President, Dr. Geoffrey Brackett, said in the school’s press release that Maker was “unanimously endorsed” by the search committee.

“We will implement a team first approach and unique style of play that highlights character, intelligence and skill, a direct reflection of our student body as a whole,” Maker said in the release. He will be introduced in an 11 a.m press conference at Marist’s McCann Arena on Wednesday.

Maker is the 11th head coach in Marist history and the third in the last three seasons. Bower spent only one season at Marist after replacing Chuck Martin, who was 48-118 in five seasons.

Marist’s best player, Chavaughn Lewis (17.3 ppg, second-team all-conference), must decide if he’ll play for his third coach or transfer. The Red Foxes are looking to build on their performance from last season, when they earned the 6-seed in the conference tournament and boasted the MAAC Rookie of the Year, Khallid Hart (14.7 ppg).


Marist basketball coach resigns, likely headed back to pros

By Nick Veronica

Former Marist coach Jeff Bower.

Former Marist coach Jeff Bower.

Marist men’s basketball coach Jeff Bower resigned after one season on the job, the school announced Monday.

Bower, a former NBA head coach and general manager, is reportedly leaving to become the general manger of the Detroit Pistons.

Marist went 12-19 overall and 9-11 in the MAAC last season, finishing sixth in the conference before being upset by 11th-seeded Niagara in the play-in round of the conference tournament.

Marist returns swingman Chavaughn Lewis (17.3 ppg), who was second-team all-conference, and Khallid Hart (14.7 ppg), who was the MAAC Rookie of the Year. Center Adam Kemp is the only loss to graduation.

Bower, for what it’s worth, is a fan of Billy Baron’s game. That could be worth keeping an eye on as Baron hopes to land on an NBA roster. He has already worked out for three NBA teams in advance of this month’s draft.

Pistons coach and president Stan Van Gundy is a former Canisius assistant.

Related: Baron has third pre-draft workout

Billy Baron’s NBA outlook, from Marist coach Jeff Bower

[Live blogImmediate reactions + Postgame interviews]

By Nick Veronica

Before becoming the head coach at Marist this past offseason, Jeff Bower spent 15 years working in the NBA. His resume is extensive.

Jeff_bower_marist

Marist coach Jeff Bower

Working for the Hornets organization in both Charlotte and New Orleans (now the Pelicans) until 2010, Bower’s titles included general manger, head coach, director of player personnel, assistant general manager, assistant coach, director of scouting and advance scout.

Of all people around the MAAC, Bower may be most qualified to assess Billy Baron’s potential in the NBA. He spent a minute and a half answering the question during Sunday’s postgame.

Here’s what he had to say:

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Canisius at Marist gameday 1/6/14

Canisius looks for a sweep tonight as it closes its first conference road trip of the season. Tip is set for 7 p.m. at Marist’s McCann Arena.

The teams: Canisius: 9-5, 3-0 MAAC, 3-4 road. RPI: 98. Streak: Won one, three of four.

Marist Red Foxes: 4-9, 1-2 MAAC, 3-2 home. RPI: 267. Streak: Won four.

Previous game: Canisius led by 21 at halftime but just held on to beat Saint Peter’s on Saturday, 67-63.

Marist pounded Fairfield last Thursday, 75-56. Four Red Foxes were in double figures as the Stags went scoreless for the first 8 minutes and 30 seconds of the game.

About Marist: The team lost its first nine games under new head coach Jeff Bower, but something seems to have clicked since. Marist has ripped off four straight wins and enters the game as the second-hottest team in the conference. It’s been a month since Marist last lost, and its defense is holding opponents to 57.75 points per game over the winning streak.

Chavaughn Lewis leads to team on offense with 16.5 ppg and freshman guard Khallid Hart has played well lately, bumping his average up to 11.7 ppg. Big man Adam Kemp (6-10, 235) leads the team with 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.

Former coach Chuck Martin was fired last spring after winning just 41 games in five seasons. He is now an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Series history: Canisius swept Marist last season and has won nine of the last 12, including a game in the play-in round of the 2010 MAAC tournament.

The takeaway: Second-year coach Jim Baron would probably prefer a little less Jekyll & Hyde out of his team, but if it amounts to another conference win on the road, he’ll probably take it. Is today the day Canisius figures out its rebounding? The Griffs are tied for 328th nationally in defensive rebounds per game (20.9) and only three teams in the conference grab fewer offensive rebounds than Marist. A win would keep Canisius even with Manhattan atop of the MAAC standings. 

How to follow the game: It looks like MAAC.TV is the only video today. Canisius will have a radio broadcast up and Marist has live stats. This Twitter list should be active during the game.