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CANISIUS' CAMMAERT HAS NATION'S TOP PERCENTAGE FROM BEYOND THE ARC

Canisius has loved to fire three-pointers the last five years, so it's no shock to see a Griff leading the nation in percentage from beyond the arc.

But it's not Kevin Thompson, Mike McCarthy or even newly installed point guard Kevin Worley.

It's junior forward Jamie Cammaert, whose 11 three-pointers in 15 attempts already equal the number he made all last season.

At 73.3 percent, Cammaert is just one of two Division I players over 70 heading into the Griffs' game tonight against Providence in Marine Midland Arena (7:30, Radio 1520).

"Sure, I'm enjoying it but I don't know how long it will last," Cammaert said Friday. "Some guys in that list have taken a lot more shots. I've made a good percentage with a low number of shots, but it still adds to my confidence seeing that."

Cammaert will be trying to stay hot during a Canisius-Providence matchup that is just part of a major weekend for the Big 4.

Niagara (2-4) hosts Youngstown State (5-2) today at 4 in the Gallagher Center, while the University at Buffalo (5-4, 3-0) hosts Northeastern Illinois (3-6, 0-1) in a Mid-Continent Conference game Sunday at 1 in Alumni Arena (Radio 1520). St. Bonaventure (6-2) meets Furman (1-7) in the first round of the Puerto Rico Christmas Shootout in Cagaus at noon Sunday (Radio 95.7 FM).

The big women's game of the weekend is tonight at 7 in Alumni Arena as UB (5-3) meets Syracuse (7-1), a team it has beaten the last two years. The Canisius and Niagara women play prior to the men's game today at 5:15 in the arena.

Canisius coach Mike MacDonald has no magic explanation for Cammaert's success. He just hopes it continues.

"What I really wish is you guys (the media) wouldn't talk about it," MacDonald cracked. "We've tried a couple different things tinkering with his shot as far as how he holds the ball and hand placement. He's worked so hard at it to become a better shooter and a better scorer."

MacDonald said Cammaert was a lot like former Canisius star Darrell Barley, who began taking more threes later in his career when he began spotting behind the arc instead of on it.

"Jamie had a number of shots last year that looked like threes and his toes were right on the line," MacDonald said. "I've talked about it in shooting drills that he should be behind the line to get us the credit."

Cammaert, who was 11 for 34 from three-point range last year, moved into the national lead by hitting all four of his treys in last Saturday's 71-61 win over Niagara.

"I was never like, 'All right guys, I'm hot. Here we go. Let's roll,' " he said. I thought I picked my spots well and their guys were worried about me driving too."

Cammaert leads the Griffs in scoring, averaging 15.6 points. He hit for 9.3 last year.

"I'm a little more confident and relaxed with my shot because last year was more of a feeling out year," he said. "This year, I've built a nice comfortable motion and let the ball go when I reach the top of my jump."

The Griffs hope to find more of a comfort zone tonight against a Providence team that has handed them 28- and 27-point drubbings in Rhode Island the last two years. The Friars (2-3) lost five of their top seven players from last year's 24-10 team that took national champion Arizona to overtime in the Southeast Regional final. They own wins over Vermont and Brown, and losses to Boston College, Utah and Rhode Island.

"We know a lot of people who don't normally watch us came out to see the Kentucky game," Cammaert said, referring to an 81-54 Canisius loss Dec. 10. "We're hoping we can play with them (Providence) a little more and maybe take this game down to the wire."

Niagara is 13th in the nation in three-point percentage (43.3) and 14th in overall shooting (51.7) but a 49-of-86 showing at the line in its four losses has been a key handicap. Coach Jack Armstrong pulled no punches this week on a MAAC coaches teleconference when talking about that problem.

"We've tried to approach it in the beginning by saying the law of averages will work itself out, but my approach is getting to the point where I'm starting to say, 'Hey, I'm starting to question your mental toughness,' " Armstrong said. "We started 5 of 14 against Canisius, then made every one (nine in a row) after that. It's like being up, 28-0, in football and now you're coming back against a prevent defense.

"Those statistics are meaningless. When you need to make them, that's when it matters. . . . We've got to get tougher as a basketball team."

Youngstown State has been one of the early-season surprises in the Mid-Con, with one of its wins coming on the road against Duquesne.

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