Canisius/Niagara rivalry turns up the heat
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — The old saying goes you can throw out the records when Canisius and Niagara meet up. But this year, the records give the rivalry matchup extra meaning.
"It's why you play. It couldn't be more exciting. The crosstown rival, it's two good teams," said veteran Niagara coach Joe Mihalich.
While Mihalich has been through these battles for nearly a decade and a half, Jim Baron is in his first season on the bench for Canisius.
"Being in the MAAC, being in Western New York, it's tremendous," said Baron, who does have familiarity with Western New York rivalries, having played and coached at St. Bonaventure.
The Purple Eagles (12-8, 8-1) are perched atop the conference, winners of eight straight in MAAC play. Meanwhile, the resurgent Griffs (13-7, 6-3) are in the hunt just two games back after three consecutive victories.
"It gives you a lot of juice, a lot of excitement, because you know you're coming into a game where the crowd is going to be energetic, it's going to be a packed house," said Canisius senior guard Harold Washington.
His counterpart from Niagara, junior guard Marvin Jordan, relishes the chance to play in the hostile environment.
"I can picture it being full and as soon as we walking in, we're hearing the boos from Canisius fans, so can't wait to hear that," said Jordan.
Control of the series has belonged to Niagara in recent years, including four straight wins over Canisius and 17 of the last 20. The Golden Griffins will look to put a stop to that before a sell-out crowd at Koessler Center.