- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1.New Canisius coach Jim Baron says he’s in a bitter fight to get all his compensation due for his final two years after he was fired in March from Rhode Island. He said he has three lawyers working on the matter. A URI spokesperson said he had not heard of the disagreement. Baron had a base salary of close to $350,000 a year and the Providence Journal reported upon his firing that he had guarantees and benefits that pushed it to above $500,000 a year. Baron said he was disappointed that he and the Rams had come to this stage. Baron spent 11 seasons at URI but finished 7-24 last season. Baron was named A-10 coach of the year three times and won 20 or more games six times. The Rams reached the NIT final four in 2010, but never got an NCAA tournament berth under Baron.
2.Mark Lewis quietly pulled off a major coup to get the NIT back to Madison Square Garden for the next three years. The new VP at the NCAA was facing a critical juncture for the NIT Season Tip-Off and postseason event. The Thanksgiving tournament has been a mainstay on the college basketball calendar and taking it away from MSG would make filling this event nearly impossible for elite schools. The postseason NIT could have been moved to the Final Four site for more of a bang. It would have been viewed as a junior varsity event, but still may have had a chance to get more play. The NIT does take a gamble when there aren’t local teams in New York, but New York is at least a destination, regardless of the time of year.
3.Keith Dambrot’s new 10-year deal probably isn’t going to get major buzz outside of Akron. But it signifies a new era in the MAC. Dambrot is a former Akron high school coach who worked his way up to the university. He has multiple NCAA tournament appearances at Akron and has had the Zips in contention on a regular basis. Dambrot isn’t a climber and by staying put he gives the Zips a chance to be a regular competing for an NCAA berth. The key for schools outside the top eight conferences to stay relevant is to either keep a successful coach or ensure that they have a run of productive coaches that don’t mind winning and running. Akron has the former in Dambrot and should stay near the top of the MAC for the foreseeable future.