Griffs schedule exhibitions with Ryerson, Buff State

By Nick Veronica

CCLogobigThe first chance to get a glimpse of the 2015-16 Canisius men’s basketball team will come in an Oct. 30 exhibition against Ryerson University.

The team’s exhibition schedule, released on Wednesday, wraps up with a Nov. 6 meeting with Buffalo State. Both Friday night contests are set for 7 p.m. at the Koessler Athletic Center.

Canisius faced Ryerson, the Toronto university, in an exhibition last season, squeaking out 79-76 win. The Griffs last had an exhibition against Buff State in 2010, when Tom Parrotta was the coach, and won 84-72.

[Griffs complete roster with PG Atkinson]

Daemen College, the Division II school led by former Canisius coach Mike MacDonald that handed Canisius an 83-81 OT loss in an exhibition game last season, was not invited back for a rematch.

Canisius has played two exhibition games in every season since Jim Baron became the coach in 2012.

Canisius roster

*new for 2015-16

Guards (8)

Malcolm McMillan*, redshirt senior
Jamal Reynolds, senior
Kiefer Douse*, junior
Kassius Robertson, sophomore
Adam Weir, sophomore
Raven Owen, redshirt freshman
Isaiah Gurley, redshirt freshman
Chris Atkinson*, freshman

Forwards (5)

Kevin Bleeker, senior
Phil Valenti, junior
Jermaine Crumpton, sophomore
Cassidy Ryan, sophomore
Ronald Gombe*, freshman


Postgame interviews: Daemen 83, Canisius 81 (OT)

[Gameday + Immediate reactions]

By Nick Veronica

Interviews from the Griffs’ exhibition loss to Daemen…

Canisius coach Jim Baron

Baron owned up to this one more than usual.

“It’s not as much about the opponent as it is about yourself. We gotta get better,” Baron said. “We threw the ball away, we made some… we did a lot. Defensively, we got to do a much better job of guarding people, jumping to the ball. Now we’re in it (the regular season). It’s gonna be growing pains for us, I think.

“You can’t turn it over 20 times,” he added. “You can’t. Not against any team. Guys gotta step up and they gotta grow up quick. We got a young team. We got inexperience. We knew that. It’s gonna be a challenge. No excuses, it’s fact. It’s fact.”

Daemen coach Mike MacDonald

MacDonald was an assistant at Canisius from 1989-97 and the head coach from 1998-2006. He was fired 8 1/2 years ago.

“It really wasn’t about me,” MacDonald said repeatedly when asked how special it was to beat his former school.

“[My players] should enjoy it. They worked very hard, they played a very good game, they played together, they battled. The beginning of that game, what’d he have, eight turnovers in nine possessions or something like that? I wanted to crawl under the bench and hide. It was embarrassing. But we battled and hung in there.”

MacDonald said he thinks forward Gerald Beverly would be successful at Division I. I think he’d start for Canisius. Scouts from the Cavs, Blazers and Spurs have been watching him. He originally didn’t make his freshman team in high school! MacDonald told an interesting story about Beverly: He was really Daemen’s second choice during recruiting. The guy they really wanted? Josiah Heath. (Question starts at 3:24)

By my count, MacDonald is now 4-1 against Baron. MacDonald’s Canisius teams beat Baron’s St. Bonaventure squads in 1997-98, 1998-99 and 2000-01, with Baron winning in 1999-00.

Canisius guard Zach Lewis

“We just got to stay together,” Lewis said. “We expect lumps in the road with so many young guys. You gotta expect it. We just tell [the new guys], trust Coach.”

I asked him if the last shot was his to take.

“Definitely,” he said. “Everyone in the gym knew I was gonna take that shot.”

Gameday: Canisius vs. Daemen (exhibition) 11/11/14

Daemen at Canisius (exhibition), 7 p.m., Koessler Athletic Center

By Nick Veronica

Canisius Golden Griffins: 0-0 overall, 1-0 exhibitions.
Daemen Wildcats: 0-0.

Keep an eye on: Continue to monitor who plays point guard for the Griffs. True freshman Jan Grzelinski started at the point in the first exhibition earlier this month and did decent. Kassius Robertson and Jeremiah Williams should also see time there. For Grzelinski, showing that he can distribute and effectively run the offense is more important Tuesday than showing his three-point touch or ability to drive the lane. Clean up the defense and prove you belong first, worry about lighting up the scoreboard later.

Valenti status: Projected starting forward Phil Valenti missed the first exhibition game due to an ankle sprain. The Griffin reported that he returned to practice last Thursday and should see some minutes in tonight’s game. “If it were up to me, I would be out there,” Valenti said.

I’m less optimistic we’ll see Raven Owen, who suffered a stress fracture in his foot earlier this preseason. This should be the final game of Jermaine Crumpton’s suspension.

Daemen coach Mike MacDonald

New Daemen coach Mike MacDonald

Familiar face: Mike MacDonald makes his return to the Koessler Athletic Center tonight in his first game as Daemen coach. MacDonald was an assistant at Canisius from 1989-97 and the head coach from 1998-2006, winning 20 games in the 2000-01 season. He then coached at Medaille before being hired away by Daemen, which is making the jump from NAIA to Division II this year. His son Matt plays Division I for Fairleigh Dickinson.

Player to watch: Daemen’s 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward Gerald Beverly was an all-conference selection for the Wildcats last year and was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged a double-double at 18.9 points and 10.0 rebounds per game and blocked 111 shots. The Gates-Chili High School product led all players with 24 points and 10 rebounds in last year’s exhibition against Canisius (a 102-84 Griffs win). If Beverly is in Beast Mode again tonight, Jim Baron might ask him to switch teams at halftime.

Sooo, Canisius should win, right?: Right. This is a tune-up. Canisius should win by double-figures. Anything less is cause for concern, just like giving up a game-tying attempt the buzzer should have been in the first exhibition. Jim Baron is going to say Daemen is a “great team” that “has some players” no matter what happens, but a tight game against a D-II team with a new coach is a red flag for any Division I team. (Come to think of it, Baron has already said “Daemen’s gonna be a good team. They got all their players back.”)

Wild card: Check out this dunk Cassidy Ryan posted on Instagram:

How to follow the game: I’ll have updates on Twitter and a blog after the game, and you should probably follow Big 4 Talk’s Jonathan Snyder, too. will have live stats, but no word yet on a radio broadcast. Tweet with #Griffs to join the discussion.