Jim Baron brought Canisius College basketball back to life this season. Now we’ll see if the revival continues into the post season.
The Griffs are the fifth seed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament and will meet fourth seed Iona in a quarterfinal matchup Saturday at 4:30 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Canisius is 18-12 overall, the most wins for the program since the 2000-2001 season.
The Griffs went 11-7 in MAAC equaling the most league wins for Canisius since the conference went to an 18 game schedule 15 years ago.
But this group hasn’t experienced any success in the MAAC tournament and that is a concern of Baron’s.
Canisius is led by Billy Baron(son of the coach), who earlier this week became the first Griff to be named First Team All MAAC since Darren Fenn in 2000. Baron leads the team in scoring and is fifth in the MAAC, averaging 16 points a game. The junior guard leads the league in assists.
Senior guard Harold Washington, who was named Third Team All MAAC, is second in scoring at 13 points a game and is second in the conference in three point shooting, hitting on 41% of his shots beyond the arc.
The Gaels are 17-13 overall and like Canisius, recorded an 11-7 league finish. Iona is one of the most explosive teams in the country. The Gaels average 81 points a game, third best in division one.
Their star player is senior guard Lamont Jones, who began his career at the University of Arizona and transferred to Iona two two years ago. Jones’ 23 points a game tops the MAAC and is third best in the nation.
The teams split the season series with Iona prevailing 97-87 back on January 13th in New Rochelle. Canisius came out on top 77-74 at the Koessler Center on February 2nd.
The winner of the Canisius-Iona game will play in the semifinals on Sunday afternoon against either Niagara, Marist or Siena. Niagara is the top seed and awaits the winner of the Marist-Siena pre-quarterfinal game.
The Purple Eagles, who were picked to finish fifth in the pre-season poll, won the league for the first time since 2005, with a 13-5 record.
Niagara is led by a pair of super sophomores and both Juan’ya Green and Antoine Mason were named First Team ALL-MAAC earlier this week. Green was third in the MAAC in scoring, averaging 17 points a game. The Philadelphia native was second in the league in assists, and third in steals. Green rarely left the court as he averaged 37.8 minutes a game, fourth most in the country.
Mason was second in the MAAC in scoring with an average of 18 points a game. He and Green were the only sophomores on the first team and they’re just the second duo at NU to make first team in the same season.
Niagara hasn’t advanced all the way to the championship game since 2009 and they last won the tournament in 2007.
The Purple Eagles swept the season series from both possible quarterfinal opponents. Niagara beat Marist at home 94-72 and in Poughkeepsie 57-54 in a game where Mason was sidelined by an injury.
NU trounced Siena at the Gallagher Center 87-64 and were victorious in Albany 78-69.
You can listen to Niagara’s quarterfinal matchup Saturday at 2:30 on WGR.