Extra points from Canisius' 99-78 loss to Siena Sunday at the Koessler Athletic Center:
x-SIENA COACH Jimmy Patsos was gracious in essentially saying Canisius was ambushed by the vagaries of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference schedule. Because there are 11 teams, one team has to be off when the rest of the conference is playing its Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday games. So you wind up with Sunday's situation: Canisius was coming off a hard-fought win over Niagara on Friday. Siena had off until Sunday's game.
Patsos: "We got lucky. The MAAC schedule has been an interesting thing with 11 teams. I really admire our league for playing everyone twice. We voted to play everyone twice. I know Jim Baron was right next to me. He thought it was a good thing, too, because it’s so hard to get games. But. There’s a but. For once we were the 11th team. We watched Niagara and Canisius play. That’s a blood war up here in Buffalo. That’s Steelers-Ravens, Red Sox-Yankees. They had to play on the road their most emotional game of the year and win. Then we’re sitting there having steak-and-cheeses from Jimmy’s on Chippewa, which is a wonderful place." (Patsos was referring to Jim's Steak Out.)
"I get pickles and ketchup on it. They know we’re coming. . . . We’re getting steak and cheeses, we’re shooting around and we’re waiting for them. Jim’s got them playing at a high level on the road. What a gutty win against Niagara. Niagara’s playing better. They’re probably going to kill us on Tuesday cuz they’ve been waiting for us. But 11 teams, there’s no way around it unless you don’t play everybody twice. I totally agreed. Baron was right next to me saying we’ve got to play everybody twice because how do you get game? Nobody wants to come into Koessler. We have the same issue. Thank God for St. Bonnies and Hofstra that want to play us that are good games. Nobody wants to come play the MAAC teams. So you have to play everybody twice. Unfortunately for them I think this is one of those days they got kind of Yahtzeed. We’re waiting and they’re playing their most emotional game on the road. I know it’s not a long road trip but that’s a war. We got lucky. On top of that we played very unselfishly and we played well. I don't expect that to ever happen again when we play Jim Baron’s team. I’ve been on the other end of that sometimes."
x-OK, WE BUY Patsos' argument that Siena caught Canisius on an off day. But that's no excuse for the Griffs allowing a team to shoot 66 percent from the field.
x-MEANWHILE, ex-Griffs coach JOHN BEILEIN did some interviews before the game and said this about the players on his great 1990s teams: "Last night I was apologizing for being so hard on them and somehow they were thanking me for being so hard on them. I can’t figure that out."
x-EX-GRIFF DAMONE JAMES then told a good story about Beilein being tough on him:
Said James: "One story that sticks out in my mind is that coach was ahead of his time in the sense that he was doing analytics before analytics was the popular thing to discuss. Binky Johnson and I were roommates on the road and there were many nights when we looked at the stat sheet and said I had five assists and six turnovers, what’s he so upset about? He’d always say your assist-to-turnover ratio needs to be this. You need to shoot a certain percentage, somewhere around 35 percent from the three-point line."
"We played Colgate Dec. 23. We’re on the bus and we get back and it’s Christmas Eve. Everyone’s going back. Craig’s going to Philly. Mike’s going to Canada. Everyone grabs their bags and we’ve got a couple days to lay off and see you guys when we get back. Coach gets off the bus and says, 'OK I’ll see everyone, Damone go get dressed.'
"I go, 'Coach, it’s Christmas Eve, I’m going home.' He said, 'No you’re not.' I remember the Koessler was freezing that day. I suited up. He sat there with Dave Niland, and this was the first time I ever experienced what’s called the big ball. He took this big ball and got on a ladder, and this changed my perception on why you should make more shots than you’re actually making. He took this ball which was huge and goes, 'Climb on the ladder Dave and put this ball in the rim.' And he put the ball in the rim. It was huge and there was still room. 'And you’re shooting 23 percent from the three-point line?' I remember shooting jump shots for about two hours on Christmas Eve. My mom’s going crazy because this is the pre-cell phone era so they didn’t know if something had happened to me or not. But I sat in the gym and the next day, Christmas, he gave me off. And the next day, the 26th, we shot again. From that point on, it made me realize and appreciate the value of hard work and someone that cared about me. Up until that point no one had ever talked to me about my shooting percentage. . . . It’s a testament to coach, when you look at the teams he has even today, he may not have the one-and-doners like Kentucky may have but he gets the most out of his players."
x-BEILEIN ON IF he still follows Canisius' scores: "Every game. I follow every game. Obviously when Mike MacDonald was still coaching, it was even closer. When they selected Jim Baron, that was the Darth Vader from when we were at Canisius. Having him back has re-connected me as well, because I have a lot of respect for him and the great teams he’s had at St. Francis, St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island."