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MEEKS DOESN'T SHY AWAY AFTER POOR OUTING

Canisius junior Micheal Meeks knew there was no denying the numbers. So the all-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference center stood tall after the worst big-game outing of his career.

"I had three points tonight. We lost by 11 (actually 12) and I'm averaging 16," Meeks said after the Griffs' 71-59 NIT semifinal loss to Virginia Tech in Madison Square Garden. "So you can do the math."

Meeks had scored 67 points in the Griffs' previous three NIT games and was averaging a team-high 16.6 points per game.

But he missed his first 11 shots from the field and didn't hit a basket until making a layup with 3:16 to go.

"I was just concentrating so much on getting it in the bucket instead of just shooting it," the 6-foot-8 Meeks said. "I never got into the flow."

The Hokies bothered Meeks early by collapsing to form double- and triple-teams in the low post.

He responded by firing up off-balance prayers from the pivot.

He found life equally difficult on the perimeter, as the Hokies wouldn't allow him the open jumpers with which he had burned previous opponents.

"I just couldn't get it going. I wasn't in rhythm all night and I was taking a lot of off-balance shots," Meeks said. "I give a lot of credit to V-Tech's defense. Those guys did a great job double- and triple-teaming me down in the block."

"Even the open shots I got I was still kind of rushing them. A couple went in and out and that kind of got to me."

Meeks had one two-point game this year, the 84-58 loss Feb. 19 at Iona.

But he was limited then by thigh and shoulder injuries.

"It's frustrating, but it's something I have to learn from," he said. "They did a great job against me and you have to give them credit."

The Griffs' 5-for-25 showing from three-point range marked the 11th time this season they have hit less than 25 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.

They were under 25 percent from long distance just three times last year, when they hit 36.7 percent. This season's figure is just 30.3 percent.

The Griffs did much of their Garden-gawking during their game-day workout, which began at 11 a.m. Brooklyn natives Javone Moore and Fred Dupree mugged for pictures on the New York Knicks logo at center court and the coaching staff took some shots while the players were getting dressed.

Even John Maddock, the school's assistant athletic director and media relations liaison, wasn't immune.

"I've got to make one shot at the Garden," Maddock said, grabbing a basketball off a nearby rack. "I better do it now because it might take me an hour."

It only took Maddock a second. His first shot swished through the net and he walked off the court quickly. "One for one. I'm out of here," he said. "I shot 1.000 in the Garden."

Canisius walk-on John Gorman, who hosted a segment on coach John Beilein's Empire Sports Network show, took time after practice to mug for cameras with ESPN analyst Bill Raftery.

At one point, Gorman was even handed a microphone to do a mock interview.

"It's something I've wanted to do the last three years at the MAAC final in Albany, but we didn't make it," Gorman said after the game. "We lost tonight, but at least the night was worth it for that reason. He was a great guy."

As it has for all games in the tournament, Virginia Tech took the floor for warm-ups wearing Atlantic 10 T-shirts.

The Hokies will become an A-10 neighbor of St. Bonaventure next season. . . . The circus is still in New York and its aroma was ever-present in the arena. "You've got to love the Garden," said one ESPN staffer. "It always smells like an elephant." . . . Faces in the crowd: Fordham coach Nick Macarchuk, the Griffs' boss from 1977-87, was in a courtside seat near the Canisius bench. So was Canisius grad Gene Jankowski, former president of CBS.

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