The Canisius College men's basketball team
returned to the practice floor in the Koessler Athletic Center on Thursday for
the first time since learning that it will participate in the 2013
CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. The Golden Griffins are 18-13 on the
year and have earned their first postseason berth since 1996. The team will be at home Wednesday, March 20, with tipoff set for 7 p.m.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for us to keep playing," Canisius head coach Jim Baron said to the local media before practice Thursday afternoon. "A lot of teams have played in a tournament like this a year or two before going to the NCAA Tournament. That's been our goal all along. We want to win the league and go to the NCAA Tournament. But this is still a great opportunity for us here at Canisius. We haven't been to the postseason in 17 years. It also speaks to the body of work of our players. We won 18 games and 11 games in the league. That's a pretty good turnaround in just one year."
On the 17-year anniversary of the program's last postseason game (March 14, 1996), the Griffs hit the floor as a team for the first time since the Blue and Gold lost to Iona by a score of 89-85 in the MAAC Tournament quarterfinal round in Springfield, Mass., March 9. In that game, Canisius shot 50.8 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from 3-point land, but defensive breakdowns allowed the nation's third-highest scoring team to earn the win en route to the MAAC Championship. Over the next few days, the Griffs will focus on themselves and the basics - shooting, rebounding and defense.
"We scored 85 points in the MAAC Tournament and lost," Canisius junior Billy Baron said. "That's not going to get it done. We need to work on the little things and really hammer home getting stops at the defensive end. We're going to make the most out of this chance. We set the bar high for our season. But there are a lot of teams at home now and we have a chance to keep playing and win games."
Canisius will learn its first-round opponent sometime Sunday evening. The Griffs are excited to have earned the chance to play at home in front of their crowd in the Koessler Athletic Center, where the Blue and Gold posted a school-record 11 wins during the regular season.
"There's a bit of a challenge not knowing who we are going to be playing, but we know it is going to be a team with a winning record from a good conference," Jim Baron said. "We should be able to draw a good crowd here at home. I am hoping our fans and the student body really embraces the chance to see postseason basketball here in the Koessler. This is a chance for us to do something special, something that hasn't been done here in a long, long time. A lot of teams have used this as a stepping-stone to keep working toward a trip to the NCAA Tournament. This is going to be a quality experience for our guys and for this program."
Tickets for Canisius' first-round CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament game are on sale now through the Canisius Ticket Office and Ticketmaster.com. Fans can purchase tickets online by clicking here, in person at the Koessler Athletic Center ticket office, or by phone by calling (716) 888-2885. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children under the age of 12. Canisius students can pick up their tickets for free with a valid student ID in the C-Block office starting Friday at 9 a.m.