Lamar coach Pat Knight:
Canisius hosts Lamar at the Koessler Center in a Griff doubleheader this afternoon. The women tip off against Quinnipiac at 2 p.m., with the men to follow at about 4:15.
The teams: Canisius: 7-4, 2-0 MAAC, 3-0 home. RPI: 115. Streak: Won one and four of their last five.
Lamar Cardinals: 1-9, 0-0 Southland, 0-4 road. RPI: 344 (out of 351). Streak: Lost six straight.
Previous game: Billy Baron had a season-high 31 points and matched a career-best nine rebounds to lead an 83-73 victory over Holy Cross on Monday.
Lamar gave up a three-pointer with one second left and lost to LIU-Brooklyn, 82-79, on Wednesday. Guard Nimrod Hilliard and forward Rhon Mitchell scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, for the Cardinals.
About Lamar: Lamar ranks near the bottom of the country in RPI and gives up, on average, 11.1 more points than it scores. The Cardinals’ only win this season was against Savannah State, which is 0-10 against Division I teams (coincidentally, I saw Savannah State play earlier this year against Robert Morris … not good). As a team, Lamar actually shoots a higher percentage than Canisius (.443 to .441), but score effects likely have a hand in that, with opponents relaxing on defense when they’re up by a bunch. Where the Cardinals really lack is defense (their opponents shoot 49.0 percent from the field) and rebounding (averaging only 31.2 per game).
Hillard leads the team at 15.8 points per game, with Amos Wilson (13.4 ppg), Donovan Ross (11.1) and Mitchell (9.8) chipping in. Lamar is coached by Pat Knight, son of legendary coach Bob Knight. Hopefully no chairs will be thrown.
Series history: Canisius and Lamar have met only once, with Canisius winning 78-72, nearly three years ago to the day (it was 12/22/10).
The takeaway: The Griffs really need to use this game to get their bigs back on track. Rebounding has been a huge issue this season, with Chris Manhertz leading the team at only 5.5 rebounds per game. Billy Baron was the leading rebounder in each of the last two games. That’s great for him, but the trend must stop. After today’s game, Canisius faces Notre Dame and then gets into conference play. If Manhertz and Jordan Heath can’t be forces on the glass against Lamar, that paints a bleak picture for the future, because it only gets harder from here.Follow @nickveronica
There will be plenty of new faces dressed in Blue and Gold next year at the Koessler Athletic Center.
Tom Parrotta and his staff have signed seven new players for Canisius, meaning less than half of the 13 on the roster are returning members from this year’s team.
Kansas State transfer Freddy Asprilla (6-10, 280) highlights the new signing class, although he will sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Once thought to have quit college basketball for a pro career in his native Colombia, Asprilla seems to have had a change of heart.
He will be joined on the bench by Issac Sosa (6-3, 190), who transferred to Canisius from Central Florida. Sosa is another player with ties to Art Alvarez, president and CEO of the Miami Tropics, one of the top AAU basketball programs in the country. Alvarez has a good relationship with Parrotta and Canisius and had a hand in getting other players in uniform for the Griffs, such as Gaby Belardo. Also notable, but likely unrelated to his decision, is the fact that Sosa majored in finance at UCF, a program Canisius is well-known for.
Both Asprilla and Sosa will have one year of eligibility left to play in the 2012-13 season.
The Griffs knew they’d be losing five seniors to graduation. Julius Coles, Greg Logins, Rob Goldsberry, Frazier and Vazquez-Simmons leave Canisius with their names scattered across the record book. Logins, Coles and Frazier have all expressed interest in playing professionally overseas. Logins will attend an overseas combine camp and has signed with the same agent as Turner.
Freshman Ashton Khan, who was suspended earlier this year for a dorm room theft, will not return to Canisius next year and is looking for an opportunity with another school. David Santiago, who was also suspended for the theft, will be on next year’s team.
Rokas Gricius, who was set to be one of two seniors on next year’s roster, has several internship and job offers and decided not to play basketball next season. He already began work on his master’s courses this spring semester.
It is also reported that Eric Kindler will not return for the Griffs next season. He is rumored to be transferring to a school closer to his hometown of Camp Hill, Pa. Kindler’s departure has not been officially announced but the Griffs do not have any scholarships left to give.
Next year’s schedule will be announced later in the summer but will include 18 MAAC games; a game in Harrisonburg, Va. against James Madison, as a return game for the 2010 BracketBuster; another meeting with Lamar University (Beaumont, Texas), who recently hired Pat Knight, son of Bob Knight who was fired by Texas Tech this season; as well as likely meetings with St. Bonaventure and UB, although a Big 4 tournament is still a few years off.
The last game in Canisius’ contract with Syracuse University was this year, but the Griffs are likely to pick up games with another top-tier school, which come with a large paycheck.