Jim Baron’s Canisius College debut was a little more unsettling than planned, but the Golden Griffins showed off some of the finer points of Baron’s guard-friendly offense.
If Canisius’ 83-75 season-opening victory over Boston University proved anything, it’s that the Golden Griffins will be difficult to defend. That’s particularly true in the backcourt, where Harold Washington, Billy Baron and Alshwan Hymes scored 58 of the team’s points.
“These are three of our leaders, three of our captains," Jim Baron said. “It’s important that they have consistency in their approach the whole time."
But the Terriers (0-2) made it close by connecting on 12 of 25 three-pointers including 10 of 16 in the second half as Canisius was a step slow on its rotations.
Contributing to the late drama for the Golden Griffins (1-0) was their 14-of-26 shooting from the free-throw line on the night.
But considering the 5-25 disaster of a year ago, the 1,422 in attendance at the Koessler Center left more than pleased with the end result. It’s definitely a different look with a new coach, three transfers in the starting lineup and another, Freddy Asprilla, due back after serving a three-game suspension.
“We want to score buckets, we want to push the ball down, we want to get down there and we want to be aggressive," said Baron, the former St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island coach who became Canisius’ 25th coach last April.
“I thought we did a good job of doing that. We got to the foul line, we got them in foul trouble early. We missed a lot of free-throw opportunities and that’s going to be important for us to step up and make those."
Canisius will likely go as far as its backcourt takes them.
Washington scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting while adding six rebounds and three steals. He was a blistering 6 of 7 from the field in the first half, including 3 of 3 from long range. His three-pointer and steal and layup was part of an 8-0 run in the first half that gave Canisius some breathing room at 33-21 with just over four minutes remaining.
Billy Baron was in total control of the team in his debut on Monday night. Baron, who followed his father from Rhode Island, had 21 points, eight assists, six boards and two steals.
Then there was Hymes, who started 30 games a year ago, who came off the bench with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 3 of 4 from three-point range.
“It’s huge when you have someone coming off the bench, and the level doesn’t drop, it picks up," Billy Baron said. “It’s so huge. When he came in he gave us that extra boost hitting shots. He kept us going and the momentum didn’t drop."
Said Jim Baron: “It’s important that we get guys like that and Alshwan stepped up bringing that high energy. James Harden did that for Oklahoma City, and that’s why they went to the championship game. Ray Allen is doing that for the Miami Heat right now. It’s those intangibles.’’
Canisius led by as many as 15 points in the second half following a jumper by Hymes with 11:27 left, but BU’s three-point shooting led a thunderous comeback.
After Hymes missed a three, John Papale, who scored a career-high 17 points, nailed a trey and the Golden Griffins’ lead was trimmed to 73-70. Washington made 1 of 2 free throws on the next possession then after Billy Baron missed a floater, Jordan Heath followed with a layup as he was fouled and the lead was back up to six points at 76-70. The Terriers couldn’t close the margin any further.
The Golden Griffins’ next game is against Big 4 rival St. Bonaventure on Saturday at the Koessler Center.