Canisius Golden Griffins

MAAC announces change to conference tournament format

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For conferences in which at-large bids to the NCAA tournament are tough to come by, the conference tournament is an incredibly important event. With that being the case, some leagues have looked give their top teams in the regular season an advantage when it comes to the conference tournament setup.

For some that advantage comes in the form of home court advantage, while others may do things such as advance their top seeds to the semifinals of the event. Thursday afternoon the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which in the past rewarded its top two seeds with a bye into the semifinals, announced that it has changed the format for its men’s and women’s conference tournaments.

Both tournaments, which are held at the same site (the Times Union Center, Siena’s home court in Albany, New York), will begin on Thursday, March 2 with three first round games in the women’s tournament followed by three games in the men’s bracket. The biggest change comes on Friday, with the top two seeds in both brackets taking the court against the winners of the 8/9 and 7/10 games respectively.

“The vote for the revised format was 9-1-1, with Manhattan opposed and Quinnipiac abstaining,” MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor said in the release.  “The format change has been accepted by the Times Union Center (Albany, NY) which is hosting the 2016 & 2017 championships under a current three-year contract.”

And the winners of those games get a day off ahead of Sunday’s semifinals, which could especially pay dividends for teams that aren’t especially deep. News of a format change was first reported by the Asbury Park Press on Tuesday, and the paper got some comments from Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello.

And it’s safe to say that he isn’t all too thrilled with the timing of this change.

“I can’t recall a time when some changes happen within eight, nine months. Why not wait until the next contract?,” Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello told the Asbury Park Press via phone on Thursday afternoon.

“Basically, to have this changed, I have yet to get an answer why, which is what I find very puzzling. I think maybe people are tired of Manhattan and they don’t want to talk about that elephant in the room, our style and our depth. We’ve been to three title games in three years, back-to-back winners in two. I have a feeling that people didn’t like that because maybe we weren’t supposed to be there.”

The MAAC’s contract with the Times Union Center runs through the 2017 MAAC tournaments. Next year’s MAAC tournament schedule breaks down as follows:

Thursday, March 
Women’s First Round
9:30 a.m. 8 seed vs. 9 seed
11:30 a.m. 7 seed vs. 10 seed
1:30 p.m. 6 seed vs. 11 seed

Men’s First Round
5:00 p.m. 8 seed vs. 9 seed
7:00 p.m. 7 seed vs. 10 seed
9:00 p.m. 6 seed vs. 11 seed

Friday, March 4
Women’s Quarterfinals
12:00 p.m. 1 seed vs. 8/9 winner
2:30 p.m. 2 seed vs. 7/10 winner

Men’s Quarterfinals
7:00 p.m. 1 seed vs. 8/9 winner
9:30 p.m. 2 seed vs. 7/10 winner

Saturday, March 5
Women’s Quarterfinals
12:00 p.m. 3 seed vs. 6/11 winner
2:30 p.m. 4 seed vs. 5 seed

Men’s Quarterfinals
7:00 p.m. 3 seed vs. 6/11 winner
9:30 p.m. 4 seed vs. 5 seed

Sunday, March 6
Women’s Semifinals
11:00 a.m. 1/8/9 winner vs. 4/5 winner
1:30 p.m. 2/7/10 winner vs. 3/6/11 winner

Men’s Semifinals
4:30 p.m. 1/8/9 winner vs. 4/5 winner
7:00 p.m. 2/7/10 winner vs. 3/6/11 winner

Monday, March 7
Women’s Championship 
Semifinal winners, Time TBD

Men’s Championship
Semifinal winners, Time TBD

UMass gets commitment from transfer guard

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UMass received a commitment from a volume-shooting transfer guard on Tuesday as Canisius sophomore Zach Lewis pledged to the Minutemen. The transfer was first reported by Adam Finklestein of

While the 6-foot-3 guard will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer restrictions, he will replace some guards who are leaving the year he’s allowed to set foot on the floor for two more years of eligibility.

Lewis led the Golden Griffins in scoring last season at 12.5 points per game and saw his field-goal percentage drop to 33 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range. He was also a third-team All-MAAC selection. With a season of being able to redshirt, Lewis could become a nice rotation member to the UMass backcourt after he further develops and has some more scoring help.

Trey Davis and Jabarie Hinds will both be gone from the Minutemen backcourt by the time Lewis is eligible, so he’ll take one of those spots in the rotation.

Former Canisius forward working out with Buffalo Bills in mini-camp

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Former Canisius forward Chris Manhertz is working through mini-camps with the Buffalo Bills at tight end, according to a report from Jay Skurski of The 6-foot-6 Manhertz played four seasons for the Golden Griffins and led the team in rebounding his last three seasons.

Now, like many college basketball players before him, Manhertz is trying to work his way onto an NFL roster and not playing the sport until after college. Manhertz actually signed with the Bills two days after the 2014 season ended and went through a mini-camp for rookies and first-year players this weekend.

The Bills gave Manhertz an unexpected shot and he’s hoping to ride it out for as long as possible.

“Once the opportunity presented itself, I had to sit down and think about it,” Manhertz said to Skurski. “My logic was, if all else fails, I could go back to basketball. Thankfully, I did well enough for them to give me an opportunity, so I’m here now. … Not many people get this, so I’m just trying to make the most of it.”

It’s not likely that Manhertz makes the Bills this season, but with some solid performances and flashes of potential during mini-camp, he could stick around and make the training camp roster or maybe even the practice squad.

Canisius sophomore guard and leading scorer will transfer

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Canisius took a big hit to its future plans on Monday as the school announced that sophomore guard Zach Lewis plans on transferring.

The 6-foot-3 Lewis was an All-MAAC third-team selection and he led the team with 12.5 points per game on the season.

“We are disappointed to learn that Zach wants to transfer from Canisius,” Baron said. “He has been a hard worker and a good teammate, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Lewis also averaged 3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game for the Golden Griffins. While Lewis put up decent numbers across the board, he was a high-volume shooter with poor percentages from the field. Lewis shot 33 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range — both numbers down from his freshman year — as a sophomore.

A native of Windor, CT, Lewis did a postgrad year at Fishburne Military School before committing to Canisius.

MAAC Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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With the Gaels and the Jaspers lined up on opposite sides of the bracket, are we in for a Iona-Manhattan MAAC Tournament championship game for the third straight March?

The rivals have split the last two tournament titles with Iona reaching a second-consecutive NCAA tournament in 2013 and Manhattan punching its ticket for the Big Dance for the first in a decade last year. Rider, the No. 2 seed, is without star big man Matt Lopez for the rest of the season while Monmouth and Canisius look to replicate success against the MAAC’s elite again this season.

If we do see Manhattan and Iona for the third time this season, you won’t hear any complaints from me. The teams have met twice with Iona winning both games by a combined seven points.

READ MORE: NBC Sports’ latest Bracketology | The updated top 25



When: March 5, 7-9

Where: Times Union Center (Albany, New York)

Final: March 9, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

READ MORE:’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

Favorite: Iona

The Gaels have two guys in line for the MAAC Player of Year in A.J. English and David Laury, Schadrac Casimir, who should be the unanimous choice for MAAC Rookie of the Year and last week got back Isaiah Williams, who is also averaging double figures.

And if they lose?: Manhattan

Like mentioned above, the Jaspers play their rival tight, including a three-point win in last year’s MAAC Tournament championship game. The Jaspers can’t look ahead to March 14 because they’ll likely get Quinnipiac, which has been a torn in their side, in the quarterfinals.


  • Rider: Odd that the Broncs are being referred to as a sleeper as the No. 2 seed, but they might be written off heading into postseason play after Matt Lopez tore his ACL last week. He was leading the team in scoring and rebounding.
  • Monmouth: The Mountain Hawks have already defeated Iona once this season — losing by one-point in the rematch. It’s worth noting, the No. 4 seed has reached the MAAC Tournament title game in three of the last four years.

Player of the Year: A.J. English, Iona

He’s not even his team’s leading scorer, but he’s the conference’s best player who is luring NBA scouts to New Rochelle. The 6-foot-4 junior scoring guard is top-3 in the MAAC in scoring at 19.5 points per game, grabbed 5.2 rebounds and dished out a conference-best 5.2 assists per game.

Coach of the Year: Kevin Baggett, Rider

The Broncs were picked to finish seventh in the MAAC preseason poll and enter’s the MAAC Tournament in March as the No. 2 seed. Rider led the conference in defensive efficiency, per, and head to Albany winners of seven of its last eight.

All-MAAC team:

  • English
  • David Laury, Iona: The leading scorer for the Gaels averaged 20.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
  • Emmy Andujar, Manhattan: One the more versatile mid-major wings led the Jaspers in points (16.5), rebounds (7.5), assists (3.5) and steals (2.1).
  • Zaid Hearst, Quinnipiac: Top-4 in the conference in scoring at 18.4 points per game. The 6-foot-4 guard also corralled 6.2 boards per game.
  • Ousmane Drame, Quinnipiac: Averaged a double-double this season — 14.4 points and 10.8 rebounds — to go along a conference-leading 3.0 blocks per game. Registered double-doubles in 12 MAAC games.

CBT Prediction: Iona over Manhattan

Canisius to be without two forwards due to ankle injury, suspension

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Despite the fact that they fell short of their goal of reaching the NCAA tournament, the 2013-14 season was a successful one for the Canisius Golden Griffins as they won 21 games and put together a 14-6 record in MAAC play. Unfortunately for head coach Jim Baron he has to account for the loss of four starters from that team, most notably prolific scoring guard Billy Baron, and that could make for a difficult year in Buffalo.

Two players who will have the opportunity to earn significant opportunities in 2014-15 are forwards Phil Valenti and Jermaine Crumpton, with the latter entering his first season of play after redshirting last season. And on Thursday, Jim Baron announced some important news regarding both players.

Valenti, a redshirt sophomore who averaged 5.0 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season, injured his right ankle in practice on Tuesday and is expected to be sidelined “for a few weeks” according to the school release. As for Crumpton, a redshirt freshman, he’s been suspended for both exhibition games for a violation of team rules.

Missing exhibition games may not seem like much, since the games don’t count against a team’s official record. But for a team like Canisius that has to replace so much production from last season, the exhibitions can help the players establish greater chemistry in game situations. Senior Josiah Heath (2.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg) joins Valenti as Canisius’ most experienced front court players heading into this season, with junior center Kevin Bleeker (6.0 mpg) and freshman forward Cassidy Ryan rounding out the interior rotation.