Tsuj’s Ten: College basketball, 12/28

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Canisius tames Bearcats, Dickinson freaks out

Photo credit: Dave Marino

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

If you’ve played or watched competitive sports before, you’ve seen it happen: the unnecessary frustration-based foul that briefly puts a player in danger. Ben Dickinson of the Binghamton Bearcats, a team still win-less in 11 tries this year, released some of his pent-up rage last night. 

Leading 74-66 with 20 seconds left, the Griffins broke the Bearcat press with a long outlet pass to Josiah Heath. The Griffs’ freshman big man sailed to the rim for what he thought would be an unimpeded dunk, but Dickinson, a 6’8 freshman, grabbed Heath around the neck and hauled him to the floor—sending the Canisius forward perilously close to banging his head against the stanchion. Fortunately, a serious neck, head or back injury was avoided.

The Canisius bench erupted—head coach Tom Parrotta had some choice words for Dickinson, who was immediately ejected. Before being escorted from the floor, however, Dickinson walked over to Binghamton head coach Mark Macon’s bench and stood in the huddle. Jeers rained down on the infuriated Bearcat, who finally snapped, gracing the angry fans with the middle finger. The boos only got louder, and a red-faced, sullen Dickinson left the floor in embarrassment. The game ended seconds later, 75-66 in favor of the Griffins.

The rather ridiculous spectacle marred an encouraging, if at times ugly, win for Canisius. Harold Washington, pressed by Parrotta to attack the rim more instead of settling for jumpers, was surgically efficient, hitting nine of 17 shots from the floor en route to a game-high 27 points. The transfer from Cecil College scored 12 points in only nine first half minutes—he’d picked up his second personal foul with 9:08 left.

After the game, Parrotta suggested that Washington would have posted 37 points if it weren’t for foul trouble. Washington’s mid-range game is reminiscent of the Chicago Bulls’ Richard Hamilton’s—they’re both silky smooth from 15-feet and have the suddenness to stop on a dime and maintain their shooting form.

Perhaps the best example of the value of Washington’s aggressiveness didn’t even come on his own bucket. During Canisius’ second possession of the second half, Washington crossed over his defender and maneuvered diagonally down the lane, right to left.  As the “help” post defender arrived, Washington twisted his body to snap a pass to Heath on the weak-side for an uncontested lay-in. The Griffins shot 48% for the game despite hitting only six of 20 three-pointers—21 of 36 (58%) on two-point field goal attempts is a percentage that Parrotta would accept any game.

Not to dwell too long on my man-crush on Josiah Heath, but the Canisius freshman wreaks havoc at both ends of the floor. Although his statistics lack the “wow” factor—seven points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks—he was instrumental in challenging shots in the lane and keeping loose balls alive with regularity. His long arms are a considerable advantage.

Byron Brown Jr., the son of the Buffalo mayor, earned four minutes of action in front of a boisterous section of friends and family. He scored his first bucket of the year on a leaning jumper with 17 seconds left, and did well to hassle Washington for a brief spurt in the second half. Omar Richards led Binghamton in scoring with 15 points off the bench—he didn’t miss a shot, going four for four from the field and six for six from the line.

Canisius travels to Fairfield for a tough New Year’s Day clash against the Stags (7-6 overall, 2-0 in conference). Fairfield dissected the Griffs 68-59 at Koessler on Dec. 4.

Additional notes:

Parrotta preached a more aggressive approach in transition, and the Griffins delivered with 12 fast break points and 14 points off Binghamton turnovers.

The head coach’s second area of emphasis was ball movement, a problem that’s plagued Canisius for much of the season. Not nearly as stagnant offensively, the Griffins made several ‘extra’ passes—Kevin Bleeker did this particularly well—and the patience and unselfishness resulted in better looks at the basket.

Griffin guard Gaby Belardo was limited to five minutes in the second half because his ailing lower back stiffened up. He sat next to ineligible transfer Freddy Asprilla at the end of the bench, clearly hampered. Should he have even dressed for this game? I’d say no—he’s too important to have healthy for conference play.

I was a little outspoken in my criticism of Hymes pre-game, and he proved me wrong, to an extent. His shot selection wasn’t perfect, but he hit an efficient seven of 12 from the floor, and three of eight from three-point range.

TAGGED: big 4 basketball, binghamton bearcats, canisius griffins, harold washington, josiah heath, men's college basketball, tom parrotta

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