Billy Baron has a knack for the heroics and relishes the big shot.
Tonight against Rider, Baron drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Canisius a 94-91 win over Rider in double overtime. The win pushes the Golden Griffins to 4-1 in the MAAC, and in a four-way tie with Manhattan, Iona, and Quinnipiac.
Players of Baron’s ability don’t often come through the MAAC and, while he is only in his second year at Canisius after transferring from Rhode Island, he’s certainly made his presence felt around the league.
Baron dropped in a career-high 38 points tonight, and also pulled town seven rebounds and dished out seven assists.
It was more than just the game-winner. Baron also hit two jumpers in the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime. In the first overtime, with Canisius trailing 76-73, he converted on an old-fashioned three-point play to push the game to a second overtime. Then, of course, he won it with the three at the end.
In consecutive days the Division II program located in Denver defeated Elon, one of the favorites in the Southern Conference, and on Tuesday the Roadrunners knocked off Canisius, a contender in the MAAC this year.
Metro State is the top-ranked team in Division II, ending last season with a heartbreaking 74-73 loss to Drury in the national championship game. Earlier NIT Season Tip-Off, the Roadrunners took Rhode Island to the wire, and also defeated Fairleigh Dickinson.
Mitch McCarron, the Brisbane, Australia native, has been the standout in both upsets this week. On Monday, the 6-foot-3 sophomore guard dropped 29 points and nine boards in the Roadrunners’ 75-74 win over the Phoenix. He followed on Tuesday with 28 points and six rebounds agains the Golden Griffins in a 14-point win.
In the first two games of the NIT Season Tip-Off, played in at the University of Arizona, McCarron posted back-to-back double-doubles. He went for 19 points and 12 boards in a 66-63 loss to URI. The next night he erupted for a career-high 34 points to go along with 10 boards in an 11-point win over Fairleigh Dickinson. In four games against Division I opponents this season, McCarron is averaging 27.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.
Metro State is the first D2 team to win multiple games at the NIT Season Tip-Off.
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
When the realignment dominoes began tumbling the general consensus was that it would take a lot to impact the leagues that don’t sponsor FBS football. That assumption ended up being misguided, and the Southern Conference is an example of this. The College of Charleston is now in the CAA and four more schools, including Davidson, will leave at the end of the 2013-14 academic year.
But that won’t have an impact on the conference race this season, one that should be hotly contested. When discussing the SoCon, Bob McKillop’s Davidson squad has to be mentioned, but the Wildcats do have some key personnel losses to address. De’Mon Brooks, the team’s lone returning double-digit scorer, will be asked to lead the way and Miami-Ohio transfer Brian Sullivan should also have an impact after sitting out last season.
Even with the standard of excellence established by Davidson, the Wildcats aren’t seen as the favorites in the SoCon this season. Why? Because an Elon squad that won 21 games last season returns all five starters, including senior guard Jack Isenbarger. Add in forwards Ryley Beaumont (11.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Lucas Troutman (15.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and head coach Matt Matheny has a team more than ready to grab the league’s top spot.
Another program with the pieces needed to challenge for SoCon supremacy is Western Carolina, which returns its top five scorers from a season ago including the prolific Trey Sumler. But whether or not the Catamounts make a run at the title will depend upon their front court, with WCU finishing last season 11th in the SoCon in defensive rebounding percentage. Other teams with the potential to factor into the equation are Appalachian State, Samford and Wofford, with all three returning at least four starters from last season.
In: None Out: College of Charleston (CAA)
PRESEASON SOUTHERN CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: G Trey Sumler (Western Carolina)
Sumler averaged 18.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game as a redshirt junior, posting a solid offensive rating of 111.0. Sumler failed to reach double figures in points just three times last season, scoring a season-high 32 in a loss at Elon in late-January. Given his ability to put points on the board, look for the fifth-year season to take home SoCon Player of the Year honors.
FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
F De’Mon Brooks (Davidson): With Jake Cohen gone the Wildcats will need even more from Brooks (13.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg).
G Jack Isenbarger (Elon): The versatile Isenbarger (13.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.6 apg) leads the way for the preseason favorites.
F Kyle Cain (UNC Greensboro): The Arizona State transfer possesses the tools needed to have an immediate impact after sitting out last season.
G Raijon Kelly (Samford): Kelly (14.1 ppg, 4.7 apg) is one reason why the Bulldogs should be much-improved in 2013-14.
3. Western Carolina
4. Appalachian State
8. UNC Greensboro
10. Georgia Southern
11. The Citadel