Wednesday, March 6, 2013

USA Today Features Baron's Father-Son Connection

It seems most MAAC men's teams have had to make adjustments to accommodate transfers this season and, it would seem, the greatest adjustment has to be made for a program bringing in a new player at the point guard position.

Not so at Canisius, though. When Billy Baron transferred in from Rhode Island for the current season, the head coach of the Golden Griffins was already pretty well acquainted with the new player's game.

That's because the Canisius head coach is Jim Baron, his new point guard's father, who also coached his son at Rhode Island.

It might be the first time a father has coached a son in the MAAC's 32-year history. Your blogger can't think of another instance, although I'll stand corrected if indeed there was one.

Traditionally the MAAC has attracted young coaches on the rise, most of them too young to have a college-aged son.

In recent years, though, that trend has changed as increased financial compensation for MAAC coaches has attracted more than a few of an age to have college-aged offsprings.

Right now four of the 10 MAAC men's coaches (Baron, Siena's Mitch Buonaguro, Niagara's Joe Mihalich and Iona's Tim Cluess) are all over 50 years of age. And, Loyola's Jimmy Patsos is 46.

It creates the opportunity for the father-son dymanic, which now exists at Canisius.

That relatively rare pairing was featured in today's edition of "USA Today," entitled "Playing For Dad Isn't Child's Play."

Arguably the best father-son pairing was when Pete Maravich played for his father, Press, at LSU more than 40 years ago.

Right now, the top family connection might be at Creighton where Doug McDermott is the nation's second-leading second-leading scorer playing for his dad Greg McDermott.

But, the Barons are have helped create considerable success at Canisius, and are prominently featured in the "USA Today" story.

Still, the two didn't start out together as Billy Barron played his first season of college basketball at Virginia while his dad was coaching at Rhode Island.

After his freshman year, though, the younger Baron opted to transfer to Rhode Island to play where his older brother Jimmy had also played for their dad.

That left some indecision after Jim Baron was fired at Rhode Island after last season and eventually relocated to Canisius.

The "USA Today" story recounts a particular turning point in Billy Baron's decision, coming when his brother Jimmy, who plays pro basketball in Russia, sent an e-mail with a link to a photo of the McCallums (dad Ray coaches his son Ray at Detroit).embracing after Detroit won last season's Horizon League championship.

"I told Billy, `You wanted to come from Virginia to play for dad, and not play for Rhode Island,' " Jimmy Baron told USA Today. "That's the same decision I made to play for him, no matter where he would have been at. And I told Billy, `This picture (of the McCallums) ... This is what you want.' "

And, now, it's what the Barons have.

Has it been successful?

Baron was recently named a first-team MAAC all star, and the Golden Griffins.finished regular-season play with a record of 11-7 in the conference and 18-12 overall.

The 11 wins is the most by Canisius in league play since it also won 11 in the 1998-99 season. The improvement of 13 victories over last season's 5-win team is third-best nationally and the greatest one-season improvement in the program's Division I history.

That does indeed sound like a highly successful father-son contribution, one that even has the potential in the upcoming MAAC tournament of creating a family portrait to rival that of the McCallums'.

No comments: