Monday, April 2, 2012

Canisius Set to Name Baron As Its New Coach

The next men's basketball coach at Canisius College will be Jim Baron, who last month was fired after 11 seasons at Rhode Island.

There are a variety of interesting points to make about the Golden Griffins' decision to bring Baron aboard. So, in no  particular order:

- Baron, who turned 58 on March 20th, is believed to be the oldest individual ever hired as a MAAC coach. The closest ones your scribe can remember are Mitch Buonaguro (57 when Siena promoted him from assistant to head coach) and Jerry Welch (55 when Iona brought him in).

- The hiring probably means a greater emphasis on the men's basketball program at Canisius. No word on Baron's salary, but it is sure to be higher than what Tom Parrotta, who the school fired in early March, received. Also, there were reports that Baron, during contract negotiations, was seeking higher salaries for assistants within the program. Higher salaries, theoretically, help ensure Baron will be able to higher quality assistants and, possibly, keep them longer than he could otherwise.

Baron's reported salary at Rhode Island was a $350,000 base with attainable incentives that pushed his pay rate to close to $500,00 annually. He assuredly won't approach those numbers at Canisius.

- Baron walks into a relatively good situation. The program returns every significant player, and also has three transfers who will be eligible next year, and all three (6-foot-10 center Freddie Asprilla of Kansas State; 6-10 center Jordan Heath of Robert Weslyan and guard Isaac Sosa of Central Florida) are likely starters next season). It's not hard to envision a top-five finish within the conference for the Griffs next season.

- Baron should have western New York connections, although he's been at Rhode Island for the past 11 seasons. Prior to that he coached nine years at Saint Bonaventure, and five years before that at St. Francis (Pa.), He also graduated from St. Bona's.

- Baron's record isn't sterling, although he did have some success most notably at Rhode Island. In his 25 previous years as a head coach he has taken two teams to the NCAA tournament: St. Francis in 1991 and St. Bona's in 2000. He failed to secure an NCAA berth for Rhode Island in 11 seasons.

He had a record of 74-71 at St. Francis, of 132-131 at St. Bona's and 184-166 at Rhode Island. But, he did win at least 20 games in four consecutive seasons with the Rams, a streak that ended this past year when Rhode Island finished 7-24. He was also the only Rhode Island coach in the program's history to have three 20-loss seasons. Baron had two years remaining on his contract when Rhode Island opted to go in a different directions and replace him with former Wagner coach Danny Hurley.

Baron, according to Canisius officials, will receive a five-year contract and will be introduced at an afternoon press conference tomorrow (Tuesday).

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