Extra points from Niagara’s 94-81 victory at Canisius Friday night at the Koessler Athletic Center:
HOME DISADVANTAGE: If you read The Buffalo News’ game story, you probably were stunned by the quotes of Canisius coach Reggie Witherspoon explaining his players don’t like playing at home. The link is here.
Here’s the transcript of part of Witherspoon’s post-game interview, which is almost comical, since the reporters couldn’t quite believe what they were hearing:
Question: Do you think you over-relied on the three?
Answer: You live by it, you die by it. We died by it.
Q: It seemed like the second half the possessions were a little rushed. Was that surprising, with how many veteran guys you have on this team?
A: No, we always do that at home. Every time we play in this building we do that. To be honest with you, the players told me before we started the season that they hate playing at home. Now I guess I believe them.
Q: They hate playing what?
A: At home. They don’t like playing in here.
Q: Your team?
Q: They told you that?
A: Yeah. I didn’t believe them then but I believe them now.
Q: What do you think that is? Niagara played more aggressive from the start, do you agree?
A: I definitely agree with that. I think they played more aggressive for the whole game. We had a spurt or two. Yeah, I didn’t believe them when they first told me but I believe them now because I see the difference at home and on the road.”
Q: Can you put your finger on it?
A: Not really.
HOME-ROAD STATS: Friday’s performance was surprising because the Griffs had just played two sensational games in beating top-five Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference teams on the road. Canisius won at Siena, 80-73, and at St. Peter’s, 72-70.
The Griffs are 4-3 at home in the MAAC and 4-4 on the road. The previous two home losses were against MAAC favorite Monmouth and a pretty good Rider team. Canisius played well in the Monmouth game (losing, 76-72), not well against Rider (a 72-66 loss).
Here’s the comparison of Canisius’ performance home and road, in conference, keeping in mind the sample size is small.
HOME: PPG 79.0. PTS ALLOWED 74.3. FG PCT. 45.1.
ROAD: PPG 82.2. PTS ALLOWED 82.8. FG PCT. 46.2.
RECORD OF HOME FOES: 46-54.
RECORD OF ROAD FOES: 62-53.
Asked about the fact the Griffs were coming off two outstanding road games, Witherspoon said:
“Home and road. That’s what they told me. I don’t know if it’s the MAAC but the guys told me that and that’s the way pretty much. Not that we haven’t won any games at home and that we’ve won all our games on the road. But I do sense a different vibe. It’s undeniable. I can’t say why, but I can certainly sense a difference.”
SHARP SHOOTERS: Niagara hit 11 of 19 three-pointers, and a lot of them were open shots. The Purple Eagles were last in the MAAC last season in three-point percentage, hitting 27.9 percent in conference. This year they’re second in the MAAC at 40.9 percent. They’re 29th in the nation in three-point percentage. Niagara doesn’t shoot a ton of threes. They’re eighth in the MAAC in attempts per game at 20.8. The addition of junior guard Kahlil Dukes, the transfer from Southern California, is the biggest reason. He’s second in the MAAC in three-point percentage at .441.
BARTON EN FUEGO: Niagara sophomore guard Chris Barton shot just 23.6 percent from three-point range as a freshman last season. He’s hitting 56.4 percent this season. He doesn’t shoot a lot. He’s 22 of 39 behind the arc. But that’s a remarkable improvement. Barton hit back-to-back wide open threes early in the second half as Niagara was building its lead.
Said Niagara coach Chris Casey: “It’s work. I’m not giving you coachspeak on that. It’s work. How often is he in the gym? Just like a bunch of our guys. Stuff like that doesn’t happen by accident. When you get a little success the easy thing to do is to stop doing it or not doing it as much. He hasn’t done that. He’s always in there shooting.”