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Belardo, two others bolt Canisius

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

A coaching change is often accompanied by personnel moves, as the personality or vision of the new coach clashes with returning players recruited under a different regime. When former Rhode Island boss Jim Baron returned to Western New York to take over the Canisius men’s basketball program, it was a fair assumption to think that not every Canisius Griffin would buy in.

Returning starter Gaby Belardo, reserve guard David Santiago and rotation player Franklin Milian have all left the Canisius program, the Griffin Athletics Department announced in a press release.

In a sense, these departures are not particularly surprising or damaging to the program. All three were part of the Latino contingent that former coach Tom Parrotta did well to assimilate and develop relationships with, but the bitter taste left in their mouths after Parrotta was dismissed may have forced their hand.

Belardo, who sustained a nagging back injury in late November, wasn’t himself the rest of the season. He wound up only missing four full games, but he was limited significantly during conference play, and for a player so reliant on driving hard in the lane and twisting for acrobatic layups, a back injury rendered him a one-dimensional jump shooter.

Still, Belardo’s junior season paled in comparison to his sophomore year, where the electric guard showed a flair for the dramatic and became a fan favorite for his unbridled emotion and energy. The strong player-to-coach bond between Belardo and Parrotta was evident, solidified by Belardo’s designation as captain last season. Then, the 5-25 season, Belardo’s injury and Parrotta’s dismissal happened, and Baron receives a rather blank canvas.

Because he’s in pursuit of a graduate degree, Belardo can file an eligibility waiver to play immediately at his new school instead of sitting out another transfer year. His intended graduate degree, however, must not be one available at Canisius College.

Belardo’s transfer—back to FIU, message board rumors suggest—actually brings clarity to Baron’s rotation for his first year on the bench. Harold Washington, Alshwan Hymes and Isaac Sosa now have breathing room in the backcourt, while the Heath brothers, Freddy Asprilla and Chris Manhertz fill out a formidable frontcourt. While there’s still no “true” point guard or small forward, at least there’s not a logjam for guard minutes now. 

With a few more open scholarships in tow, it’ll be interesting to see how Baron begins to put his stamp on the Griffin program.

(Photo courtesy: Tom Wolf Imaging on GoGriffs.com).

TAGGED: canisius basketball, canisius college, canisius griffins, franklin milian, gaby belardo, jim baron, tom parrotta

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