GAME NOTES: The Elon Phoenix will make their first-ever postseason appearance at the Division I level on Wednesday as they tangle with the Canisius Golden Griffins in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at the Koessler Athletic Center.
Elon finished the season with an impressive 13-5 mark in Southern Conference action to earn the second seed in the conference tourney, but it was upset, 68-60, by the College of Charleston in the semifinals. The 13 wins in league play were the most since the school joined the conference in 2004. Coach Matt Matheny was named the 2013 SoCon Coach of the Year by the media for his team's efforts.
Elon has a pair of All-Conference honorees in Lucas Troutman and Jack Isenbarger. Troutman provides a team-best 15.3 ppg on 55.1 percent shooting from the field to go along with 5.3 boards per tilt. He is also the program's all-time leading shot blocker with 154 in his career. Isenbarger chimes in with 13.2 points and 2.7 assists per outing. The Phoenix own the second-best average scoring margin in the SoCon at +4.9 ppg and limit their opposition to just 41 percent shooting from the field. Ryley Beaumont and Sebastian Koch are both valuable role players that have attributed to the team's record setting 21-win campaign.
This will be the first meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood.
Jim Baron's first tour as the head coach of Canisius went surprisingly well as his squad enters the postseason with an 18-13 overall record. The strong record gave the team a 13-game improvement in the win column. The school has never before hosted a postseason contest at the Koessler Athletic Center since it opened in 1968. The Golden Griffins enters Wednesday's action ranked second nationally in made 3-point field goals per game (9.2) and also 14th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage at 38.8. The last time the Griffs played in a postseason event, the team met Utah in the first round of the 1996 NCAA Tournament in Reunion Arena in Dallas.
Billy Baron led Canisius not only in scoring (16.9 ppg) but assists (5.0) on his way to being named to the All-MAAC First Team. Harold Washington and Isaac Sosa supply added scoring punch with 13.8 and 11.9 ppg, respectively, but if this team expects to be moving on after Wednesday they need to get more players involved in the action. Sosa is the only player on the squad with postseason experience. Chris Manhertz will also provide some value as he nets 7.8 points and 8.9 boards per outing. The Griffs come into this game averaging 73.0 points per game, which ranks third in the MAAC and 52nd nationally.
Although Elon is about even with Canisius, the Golden Griffins hold a slight edge due to their homecourt advantage. Elon's forwards will need to keep Manhertz off the glass and stay aggressive as Canisius's backcourt is likely to have a strong showing.
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