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Studious Canisius Calling Check Mate?

November 12, 2011

Tom Parrotta

When it opens its season Sunday, James Madison will host a team that was well-represented at the Final Four last year.

No, Canisius (15-15 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) wasn’t involved on the court, but fans in Houston got the chance to read about the Golden Griffins.

A story in the official Final Four program highlighted how all five of the team’s seniors graduated in three years – three of them earning their masters degree before their basketball eligibility expired. The Griffs stay on the Buffalo campus through the summer and knock out credits while other students knock around beach balls.

“We’re kind of churning them out, guys that graduate in three years and get their masters in four,” coach Tom Parrotta, a former Hofstra assistant, said. “It’s gotten us in the door, recruiting-wise.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean the Griffs will outsmart their opponents. Asked if the team is especially heady on the court, Parrotta said, “no.” Especially this year, when he is trying to incorporate five freshmen to a team that lost five seniors, including four starters.

Still, he joked that his group would probably have a better chance against James Madison if the activity being played this weekend were different.

“So if you guys want to have a chess match in addition to a basketball game, we’re open to that as well,” the coach quipped.

Canisius is well-rounded in a worldly way too. Including Kansas State transfer Freddy Asprilla, who won’t be active Sunday against the Dukes, seven of the 15 Griffins are foreign-born (three from Puerto Rico, one Colombia, one the Netherlands, one Dominican Republic, one Uganda.)

“I’ve always done that,” Parrotta said. “We’re under the mindset that players are players are players and they’re all over.”

But Parrotta’s players lack offensive firepower that JMU coach Matt Brady’s players have this season. While the Dukes scored 98 points in an exhibition game win over Division II Philadelphia last month, the Griffins scored 98 points in two scrimmages, combined, against Colgate and a Division II team from Puerto Rico.

They did happen to win both though, according to Parrotta.

“But we played 5 on 4,” he said.

[Pause]

“I’m kidding.”

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