The 2012-13 men's basketball season at Canisius College has seen a number of records broken and a number of streaks come to an end. The team's 18 wins are the most for the program since 2000-01, the 11 MAAC wins are the most for the program since 1998-99, the Golden Griffins' 11 home wins in the Koessler Athletic Center are the most in school history and the team was able to beat Temple and Niagara on the road, with the win at Niagara ending a nine-game road losing streak in the series for the Blue and Gold. The Griffs also recorded wins over all three Western New York rivals (Buffalo, Niagara and St. Bonaventure) for the first time since 2000-01.
Now, you can cross one more streak off the list - the program's postseason drought.
Canisius College has officially accepted an invitation to participate in the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT), ending the program's 17-year postseason drought. The Griffs' first-round game will be played Wednesday, March 20 in the Koessler Athletic Center against an opponent to be announced. Game time is set for 7 p.m. This will be the program's first postseason game since the Griffs played Utah March 14, 1996, in the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament It will be Canisius' first home postseason game since March 23, 1995, when the team defeated Washington State in the Memorial Auditorium for a berth into the NIT Final Four.
Tickets for all seats cost $10 and are on sale now through the Canisius College Ticket Office. Fans can purchase their seats in person at the ticket office or by calling (716) 888-2885 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily. Student tickets are free for all Canisius students with valid student ID cards. Those tickets can be picked up in the C-Block office from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 14, 15 and 18-20.
"Any time you get to play in the postseason, it is a great thing," Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. "There's close to 350 teams at the Division I level and more than half of them are going to be sitting at home. This gives our guys a chance to continue to compete, and it serves as a real testament to the hard work and accomplishments that this group has put together. We are very excited to be able to bring postseason college basketball back to Canisius."
This will mark the fifth year of the CIT event, with first-round games set to be played March 18-20. The CIT field consists of teams not participating in the NCAA or NIT fields, and the criteria for selection includes win-loss record, strength of schedule, strength of conference and final 10 games played. Participating teams must have at least a .500 record through the regular season with the Great West Tournament champion earning an automatic bid. The CIT consists of 31 games, with the championship game set for Tuesday, April 2. That game will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.
"This is another great step forward for our men's basketball program," Canisius Director of Athletics Bill Maher said. "This year's team has been able to make great strides forward and securing our program's first postseason berth in the last 17 years is another sign of significant progress. We feel this is not only a great opportunity for our student-athletes, but it will be great experience for our fans and the community as well."
The Griffs are currently 18-13 overall and the team went 11-7 in MAAC play under Baron, who will be taking a team to the national postseason for the 12th time in his 26-year head coaching career. The team earned a first-round bye in last week's MAAC Tournament for just the second time since 2000 and the team's No. 5 seed in the conference's postseason event was the highest for the program since 1999. In the latest NCAA RPI release, the Griffs are No. 114 and the team's strength of schedule ranks 100 out of 345 teams at the Division I level.
The Griffs are led by junior guard Billy Baron, who was named All-MAAC First Team last week. Baron ranks fourth in the MAAC with his 16.9 points per game and his 5.0 assists per outing is tops in the conference. Senior guard Harold Washington ranks second on the team in scoring with 13.8 points per game, and he enters the postseason averaging 19.6 points per game in the team's last five contests.
"I'm really happy to have a chance to play in a postseason event with my teammates," Washington said. "As a college basketball player, you always want to play in March. That's the goal from day one. This event gives us a chance to build on what we have done this year. It will be exciting to be back home in front of our fans and students again too."Canisius will learn its first round opponent on Sunday night. A win would put the Griffs into the second round, which is scheduled to be played March 22-24. The quarterfinal round will be played March 26-27 and the semifinals are set for March 29-30. All games in the CIT are played on-campus.