Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rest Coming for Baron, After Tough Weekend Games

Billy Baron played 39 of 40 minutes in a Friday night heated-rivalry game against Niagara that started at 9 p.m., ended close to 11:30 p.m., had to deal with media and, then, take the 40-minute bus ride back to campus.

During the Niagara game, he regularly got knocked to the floor, took nearly as much physical punishment as a typical NFL offensive lineman and still managed to drop 34 points on the Purple Eagles to lead his team to a 71-66 victory.

After the game he fell asleep about 2 a.m. and, then, had to be up early Saturday morning for what became, because of blowing snow on the Thruway, a six-hour bus ride.

And, then, less than 38 hours after the conclusion of Friday's contest he was back on the court again to play against Siena.

Was it any wonder that Baron looked a little out of sorts in the first half of the contest against the Saints as he shot just 2-of-7 from the floor in the first 20 minutes.

"I was still dragging a little (in the first half)," he admitted. "And, then, I caught my second wind."

Still, it would be some time before he could catch up on some much-needed rest.

Sunday's Canisius- Siena game at the Times Union center went into three overtimes before Canisius held on for a 92-88 victory.

And, the standout Canisius guard more than earned what rest he would find later Sunday. He scored a career high 40 points, and was involved in every point his team scored in the third overtime. when he had nine points and assisted on the only points a teammate scored in that extra session.

Very few of his 40 points (he also had 10 rebounds and five assists) came the easy way. He took another physical pounding, enough of one to get to the foul line to take 19 attempts (making 18).

He now averages 25.2 points per game, not far behind national scoring leader Antoine Mason of Niagara, who averages 25.6 per contest.

Sunday against Siena, Baron played the full 55 minutes and, most definitely, earned the respect of the opposition's coach.

"He should be an NBA second-round draft pick (this spring)," said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos, about Baron. "If you don't think that guy can play, that he can't play as a second-round pick of some NBA team ... then I disagree with you."

One has to go back to the 2007-08 season to find the last legitimate NBA prospect in the MAAC. And, that was Jason Thompson of Rider, who had the benefit of his 6-foot-10 height.

Your blogger can't remember another guard in the league with the skill set that should attract NBA interest since the days when La Salle ruled the league and its guard Doug Overton went on to a lengthy professional career.

It says here that the league's last guard as good as Baron was two-time MAAC Player of the Year Luis Flores, who graduated after the 2003-04 season.

He was a second-round NBA draft pick (55th selection overall) and played just 16 total games in the league.

But, Flores was strictly a shooting guard, and a relatively small one at 6-2.

Baron is the same height, but not only is the Griffs' top scorer, but its primary ball-handler, too.

Shooting guard that stand only 6-2 are relatively rare at the NBA level. But, the league is full of point guards that height and shorter.

Baron's work this year surely will draw considerable interest from NBA talent evaluators.

But, after playing all 55 minutes against Siena Sunday afternoon all Baron was looking forward to was getting a lengthy bus ride back to Buffalo.

"My plan for the bus trip back is to get a lot of sleep," he said.

All of it well-earned.

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