Postgame interviews: Canisius 67, Rider 61 – Baron’s brother ejected

By Nick Veronica

Only 792 people paid to watch Canisius and Rider play basketball on Super Bowl Sunday, making for an intimate atmosphere at the Koessler Athletic Center. Fans who voiced their displeasure could be heard from one end of the gym to the other, which led to referees taking the unusual step of asking security to remove particularly boisterous fans from the game.

One fan who was sent home early happened to be Ed Baron, the brother of Canisius head coach Jim Baron.

In his press conference, Jim Baron essentially said the insults fans yell at him everywhere Canisius plays are much worse than anything his brother said Sunday.

“It’s a game, what do you want? What do you expect?” Baron asked. “Go to a tennis match where you can be quiet. Go to golf, shhh, quiet. They got signs for quiet. This is a basketball game.

“You go to the other places, they’re screaming at me, they’re cursing at me,” Baron added. “They’re appalling to me. Monmouth, I was gonna punch somebody in the face sitting right behind me. I looked at the guy, guy was an idiot. I’m like, what are you talking about? We just beat your team up here. Who the hell are you? This guy sitting right over here, old guy, must’ve been about 75, I think when I stared him down, I think I made his heart, like, quiver.”

[Immediate reactions: Canisius 67, Rider 61]

The referees Sunday were Jeffrey Anderson, Ron Tyburski and Andrew Maira. Anderson came over to a fan before the second half started and reminded him he could be kicked out at any time. Ninety seconds into the half, Maira threw him out. Half an hour later, Ed Baron received the same fate.

Baron attends most, if not all, of Canisius’ games and sits in an aisle seat about ten rows behind the team’s bench. He isn’t shy about voicing his displeasure when calls go against Canisius but usually means well.

Skip to 8:06 on the video above for Jim Baron’s answer about the fans and refs. Here’s the full quote:

“Eh, I don’t wanna … it is what it is. We move forward. I don’t know. People are just, they’re into the game. You come here, this is what … what do you expect? You know? We go, you go to the other places, they’re screaming at me, they’re cursing at me. They’re appalling to me. Monmouth, I was gonna punch somebody in the face sitting right behind me. I looked at the guy, guy was an idiot. I’m like, what are you talking about? We just beat your team up here. Who the hell are you? This guy sitting right over here, old guy, must’ve been about 75, I think when I stared him down I think I made his heart, like, quiver. Because I looked at him like I was gonna … [he said] ‘You asshole!’ Like, come on. … It’s a game, what do you want? What do you expect? Go to a tennis match where you can be quiet. Go to golf, shhh, quiet. They got signs for quiet. This is a basketball game. Alright, thanks guys.”

Canisius players Keifer Douse and Kassius Robertson

The Griffs pressed Rider a lot Sunday, and that’s something Kassius Robertson wants to see a whole lot more of. Robertson and Keifer Douse also discussed his Douse’s new role starting for Jamal Reynolds and how that’s alleviating some of the burden from Reynolds’ shoulders.

Rider coach Kevin Baggett

The MAAC has an interesting schedule with 11 teams. It seems like every team gets rolled at least once when it’s their turn to play a lot of games in a row. Sunday was Rider’s turn. Baggett talked about that and more.


Immediate reactions: Rider 60, Canisius 59

Rider 28 32 –60
Canisius 36 23 — 59

By Nick Veronica

How it happened: Everything looked great for Canisius at halftime. The Griffs shot 68 percent in the first 20 minutes and outrebounded Rider 12-6. Josiah Heath had 14 points and Canisius looked poised to steal a win in its first game down Jermaine Crumpton and Phil Valenti.

But Canisius’ offense regressed to its short-handed expectancy in the second half and second-place Rider came back for a tight win. VCU transfer Teddy Okereafor led the Broncs with 15 points — including 13 in the second half — and had eight assists while Jimmy Taylor scored 13 points.

Josiah Heath finished with a career-high 20 points, beating his old high of 15 set earlier this year, and added six rebounds. Kevin Bleeker played 30 minutes in his first start of the year and scored nine points. Jan Grzelinski was held scoreless for the third straight game.

What it means: Canisius was competitive with a team near the top of the conference but has now lost four games in a row since losing Valenti. Rider goes to 17-9, 11-4 MAAC and Canisius sinks under .500 in MAAC play for the first time this year (12-12, 7-8).

It was over when: Zach Lewis finished Heath’s miss to cut Rider’s lead to 58-56 with 9.3 seconds left, but Okereafor hit two free throws with 6.7 seconds left to put it away. Kassius Robertson hit a 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds remaining, but it was too late for Canisius.

Lineup shifts again: Crumpton had been filling in for Valenti in the starting lineup, but with his foot injury, Bleeker picked up his seventh career start and his first since 2012. Bleeker had nine points on 3-of-6 shooting (2-2 on 2-pointers, 1-4 on 3-pointers) with four rebounds, three assists and four turnovers. Heath played a season-high 36 minutes, but Cassidy Ryan still only played three minutes off the bench.

Stats that were good: Josiah Heath’s shooting — 8 of 11 from the field, 4 for 5 at the line — and his defense, which helped hold Rider’s 7-footer Matt Lopez to just seven points, well below his 12.8 average.

Stats that were bad: Zach Lewis’ shooting — 3 of 12 from the field and 1 from 5 from three-point range. When I asked Jim Baron after the game if Lewis still has free range to shoot given how hard defenses shade toward him, Baron basically said Lewis has to keep trying to score because the team doesn’t have many other options.

Happy Valentine’s Day: Rider’s Shawn Valentine wears No. 14 and has pink shoes. This is his weekend! (At least in theory.) He finished with three points in 17 minutes off the bench.

Vegas line: Vegas Insider had Canisius as a 2.5-point favorite over Rider, which was curious given Rider’s place in the standings and Canisius’ injuries. Over/under was 121.5. Rider covered, total was 119.

Next: Canisius hosts Saint Peter’s at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Niagara upsets Marist, Saint Peter’s wins in OT, Rider advances

By Nick Veronica

Antoine Mason scored 38 points to lead 11th-seeded Niagara to a 78-76 upset of 6-Marist late Thursday night in the play-in round of the MAAC Tournament.

The Purple Eagles led by as many as 24 points in the second half but had to hold on as Chavuaghn Lewis led a rally to get Marist back within two points on several occasions in the final 90 seconds. Lewis finished with 26 points and Khallid Hart had 20. Marcus Ware chipped in with 14 points for the Purps (7-25).

Niagara will face third-seeded Quinnipiac at 9 p.m. Saturday.

In other play-in round action, Saint Peter’s needed overtime to dispatch No. 10 Fairfield, 65-62. Desi Washington hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the game. He led the Peacocks with 14 points while Maurice Barrow came off the bench to lead Fairfield with 14 points.

Danny Stewart had 25 points and 9 rebounds to lead Rider past Monmouth, 71-60.

Here’s what the bracket looks like for Saturday’s quarterfinals (click to expand):



  • Canisius meets Siena at 2:30 Saturday. Saints freshman Lavon Long: “Stop Baron, and we’re most likely going to win.”
  • Billy Baron: “Canisius is home now. It’s a small school with a big heart.”
  • Canisius is last in the conference in rebounding. What does that mean for the tournament?
  • Looks like the Niagara women were on the wrong end of some bad officiating. The Canisius women open at 2:30 p.m. Friday against Quinnipiac.
  • MAAC awards are announced Friday night. My picks:
    • Player of the Year: Billy Baron, Canisius. It’s between Baron and Manhattan’s George Beamon, but Baron’s the guy.
    • Rookie of the Year: Khallid Hart, Marist.
    • Coach of the Year: Tom Moore, Quinnipiac.
    • Sixth Player of the Year: Maurice Barrow, Marist (close between him and Siena’s Evan Hymes).
    • Defensive Player of the Year: It’s a crapshoot, really. I’d guess Chris Perez is in the mix but I don’t know. Manhattan’s Rhamel Brown is third nationally in blocks so lets go with him.

I’m heading down for the tournament this weekend. Check back for live blogs and coverage of all the action here and on Twitter. 

Canisius’ MAAC seeding options and tiebreak results – FLOWCHART

By Nick Veronica | @NickVeroinca

With only tonight’s contest against Rider (9 p.m., ESPNU) and Sunday’s showdown with Manhattan (4:30, ESPN3) remaining in the regular season, Canisius appears to be in a logjam near the top of the conference standings.

The MAAC’s tiebreaking procedures can be complicated, but after sifting through each scenario, Canisius’ outlook actually winds up being fairly straightforward.

The Griffs can still pass Quinnipiac and finish second in the conference if they wins both games this weekend and get help from Marist, but what really ends up mattering the most is Sunday’s game at Manhattan.

If the Griffs lose Sunday, they will finish fourth. That means opening against the fifth-seeded team in the MAAC Tournament.

A win Sunday gets Canisius no less than third place, a seed that sets them up with a play-in game opponent in the quarterfinals.

Here’s a flowchart to break it down.

(Remaining games: Canisius: at Rider Friday, at Manhattan Sunday. Manhattan: vs. Iona Friday, vs. Canisius Sunday. Quinnipiac: at Marist Sunday.)

Nifty Canisius tiebreak results flowchart

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Canisius basketball throws away passes, victory

All Gaby Belardo could do was sit and watch as his team let an upset of the Rider Broncs slip through its fingers last night at the Koessler Athletic Center.

Harold Washington scored 15 points and even pulled down 10 rebounds last night for his first career double-double.

The junior guard has battled through a back injury all season to try to give some quality minutes to a team struggling to remain competitive. But after receiving an injection Wednesday that hadn’t taken full effect, coaches decided Thursday morning to hold him out and get him ready for Saturday’s matchup with Siena.

Belardo watched his team control the first half and walked to the locker room with them at halftime leading 34-29. He watched his team continue to outscore Rider deep into the second half, going up as many as 10 points with 7:19 to play.

But when the Broncs went to a full-court press, Belardo wished he could have been out there, giving his team a veteran presence it desperately needed. Instead, he could only watch as the Griffs turned the ball over on five straight possessions while Rider ripped off a 13-0 run, taking its first lead of the night with 1:38 left and securing 71-66 the win, sinking the Griffs to 4-20 overall and 1-13 in MAAC play.

“It was hard at the end because we needed a ball handler and I wasn’t there,” Belardo said. “Those last two minutes I think the team needed me and I feel bad I wasn’t with my teammates.

“I hate sitting down, even when my back is feeling bad I still want to play. Coach [Tom Parrotta] told me to take the day off and be ready for Siena but it hurts a lot just watching my teammates giving 110 percent and not winning. I feel bad. I kind of feel like I let my team down but we’re definitely going to get this win on Saturday.”

On a night when it looked like the Griffs would pick up their second win of the calendar year, the end result was instead a collapse that extended the team’s losing streak to eight games. The Broncs’ Novar Gadson led all players with 19 points.

“We kind of went into a lull,” said junior Harold Washington, who had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds but also was charged with the first two turnovers during the Griffs’ collapse. “Nobody could find their scoring touch. We were kind of desperate for a basket so sometimes we find ourselves forcing the issue a little bit. Once they began to full-court press us, I think we kind of broke down a little mentally and started playing to their hands and started to panic, and that’s what led to the back-to-back turnovers.”

The Griffs were two guards down last night without Belardo and Reggie Groves, who had his suspension lifted by Parrotta earlier this week but did not get into the game. Lack of depth has been an issue for Canisius all season, bust last night, the opponent was shorthanded as well.

The mysterious gastrointestinal virus afflicting students at Princeton and Rider universities hit the Rider basketball team, Broncs coach Tommy Dempsey said, as bench players Eddie Mitchell and Junior Fortunat were “struck ill” on the bus ride to Buffalo. The players combine to score over eight points per game but will remain secluded from the team until cleared to play by doctors. Dempsey hopes they will able to play in the second game of the trip against Niagara.

The low point of the game came with 18 seconds left after Rider’s Novar Gadson hit a free throw to put his team up two possessions, 67-63. Parrotta took his last timeout to draw up a play and sent freshman Tyler Funk to inbound the ball. When Funk couldn’t find a man, he tried to call a timeout, but was assessed a technical foul because Canisius didn’t have any left to take.

Parrotta took responsibility for the play after the game, saying he shouldn’t have put a player in that situation who wasn’t ready for it, but when Jeff Jones hit both ensuing free throws the game was essentially out of reach.

Belardo gets back to action Saturday afternoon when the Siena Saints come to the KAC. He may be hoping for a repeat of the last time Siena visited Canisius – Belardo hit the game-winning shot with 11 seconds left to knock off the three-time defending champs.