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Canisius, Dartmouth share some hardwood history

The late Dave Gavitt – who went on to coach Ernie DiGregorio and Providence to the Final Four, found the Big East and make the Basketball Hall of Fame – was the Dartmouth coach.

Tony Masiello, a future mayor of Buffalo, was a senior forward for Canisius.

It was December of 1968 when Dartmouth and Canisius met in the first round of the Queen City Tournament in Memorial Auditorium. Canisius won, 71-68.

That was the last time Canisius and Dartmouth faced each other on the basketball court. They will meet again Wednesday night at the Koessler Athletic Center (Radio 1230 AM, 7 p.m.) in a first-round game of The Postseason Tournament, the CIT.

It’s the third year in a row in which the Griffs have been invited to the CIT. Dartmouth has not been to a postseason tournament of any kind since 1959, the last time the Big Green won the Ivy league championship.

Dartmouth did not win the Ivy League this year, but was a key to its outcome. The Big Green rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to upset eventual champion Harvard on the road. Later, coach Paul Cormier’s team cost Yale the outright title, upsetting the Bulldogs, 59-58, on a basket by Gabas Maldunas with one second left. The outcome left Yale and Harvard tied for the league title. Harvard won a playoff for the NCAA Tournament berth with a 52-50 win last Saturday in Philadelphia.

Buffalo should be a special place for Cormier, the former coach at Fairfield. His teams were only 4-12 against Canisius in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. However, one of the highlights of his coaching career came when Fairfield won the MAAC Tournament title at what is now First Niagara Center in 1997.

Canisius (14-11, 11-9 MAAC) hasn’t played since a first-round loss to Monmouth on March 7 in the MAAC Tournament in Albany after the Griffs had won four of their last five regular season conference games.

Sophomore forward Phil Valenti, who had been out of action since suffering an ankle injury on Jan. 30, played for the Griffs in the MAAC Tournament. He had three points and one rebound in 14 minutes. He will be available again Wednesday night. His place in the starting lineup was taken by junior center Kevin Bleeker. Sophomore Zach Lewis leads the Griffs in scoring at 12.9 per game. Valenti averaged 10.7 before his injury.

Junior guard Alex Mitola leads Dartmouth at 12.4 points per game. Maldunas averages 11.1 and 6.8 rebounds.