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The attack of the ‘stache: Baron promises up-tempo style for Canisius

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Don’t let the fact that Jim Baron is 58-years-old with a bushy mustache mislead you; the new Canisius College men’s basketball head coach promises an entertaining brand of basketball.

“We like to play up-tempo, we like to push the ball, we like to press,” Baron said of his coaching style during his introductory press conference. “We like to use a lot of high energy and score points.”

That’s music to the ears of Griffs fans, who’ve endured several years of ho-hum offensive production, with the only highlights being thunderous dunks by Elton Frazier, crossover dribbles by Frank Turner or step-back threes by Gaby Belardo. Otherwise, the Canisius offense has been a comedy of confusion, replete with brain-numbing turnovers and rushed errant jumpers.

In six seasons under previous head coach Tom Parrotta, the Griffins never averaged above 70 points per game, and the team finished seventh in the MAAC in 2012 at 65.5 points per tilt. Baron’s Rhode Island Rams, however, topped 75 points per game in four consecutive seasons (2006-2010).

“The reason I’ve been successful is because of my style,” Baron admitted. I’ve really evolved a style that’s very exciting. In Rhode Island, we went from a 3,000 seat arena to an 8,000 seat arena [the Ryan Center in 2002], and I think a lot of that was because we brought a style of excitement.”

The returning Griffin players were able to sit down with each of the three candidates for the vacant head coaching position—Baron, Jayson Gee and David Duda, in that order—and one of Baron’s chief advantages was how smoothly his style fit with Canisius’ personnel.

“As soon as he walked in [to the team meeting], he started talking to us about the style he plays,” said senior-to-be guard Gaby Belardo. “He likes to play defense and he likes to [have us] run the court, and that’s one thing I’ve always liked and one things Coach P[arrotta] let us do. We do have a lot of offensive players.”

Belardo isn’t lying, as Canisius’ roster—assuming there aren’t any departures due to the Baron hire—will be much deeper and more talented than last year’s iteration. 6’11 Jordan Heath and 6’10 Freddy Asprilla immediately jump into the front-court rotation, if not the starting five, after both players sat out last season due to the NCAA’s eligibility rules for transfers. South Florida transfer guard Isaac Sosa offers another perimeter shooting threat to complement the penetration of Harold Washington and Belardo.

Hopefully for the Canisius program, Baron’s brand of basketball will draw more students to fill the Koessler Athletic Center in more games than just the Niagara, St. Bonaventure and UB clashes next winter.

TAGGED: canisius college, college basketball, freddy asprilla, gaby belardo, isaac sosa, jim baron, jordan heath, maac basketball, tom parrotta

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