The longest season in Canisius basketball history has given Craig Wise, Darrell Barley and Micheal Meeks extra time to put dents in the school record book.
When that trio takes the Madison Square Garden floor for tonight's National Invitation Tournament semifinal against VirginiaTech, it will represent the only time in school history that three players on the same team have more than 1,000 career points and at least 500 in a season.
Meeks has 547 points and is 11th in single-season scoring. He needs 41 points in these two games to have the fifth-best scoring season by a Griff. Wise has 532 while Barley has 517 after cracking the 500 mark with 20 points in Thursday's 89-80 quarterfinal win over Washington State.
Wise's career total is up to 1,758, second in school history. Only a junior, Meeks has 1,328 points and has a chance to become Canisius' second 2,000-point man next season. Barley, also a junior, has 1,092 points despite missing three-fourths of his freshman year due to injury.
Wise needs three rebounds to become the only Griff ever to collect 500 points, 250 rebounds and 100 assists in a season.
The Griffs' semifinal matchup has prompted a family crisis for Dave Schofield, a Canisius graduate who serves as radio analyst for road games on WECK-AM.
Schofield's 20-year-old son Denis is a junior architecture major at, of all places, Virginia Tech.
"You better believe there's a big-time bet on this game," Schofield said.
Specifically, if the Griffs win Denis and two or three friends will wear Canisius T-shirts to class for three straight days. If Tech wins, Schofield owes the group a meal in Blacksburg.
Canisius played just 12 of its 33 games at home this year, while Virginia Tech played only 14 of its 33 on campus in Blacksburg.
"You and I might lead the world in road games," Hokies coach Bill Foster said to Griffs coach John Beilein during Sunday's coaches news conference at the Marriott Marquis. "A lot of people are not booking flights into Blacksburg. It's not the end of the world but you can see it from there. It's just not an easy place to get to."
Beilein pointed out how luck plays a part in the tourney.
"We've had some very fortuitous bounces in the last three games," Beilein said. "I've done probably less coaching in these wins. Some years you win those games, other years you don't and it doesn't have a lot to do with coaching or the way your guys are playing."
Later in the day, Beilein was conducting interviews with a small group of reporters and Marquette coach Mike Deane, who spent the last eight years at Siena, couldn't help but take a friendly jab at his former rival in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
"All I have to say is when Beilein was in the league, the word 'fortuitous' was not in his vocabulary," Deane said in interrupting the interview. "I know he's been talking to the sports information director and getting some words because he used to think that was something you build with snow during the winter."
Canisius will wear its road gold jerseys tonight. The Griffs will wear home whites Wednesday regardless of whether they are playing in the championship or consolation. . . . Brad Nessler and Bill Raftery will call the games for ESPN. . . . Canisius has only played one game against Virginia Tech, an 85-70 loss at Blacksburg on Jan. 14, 1978.