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