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Four Things You Didn’t Know About Canisius Basketball

New head coach Reggie Witherspoon, via WGRZ.com

New head coach Reggie Witherspoon, via WGRZ.com

New head coach Reggie Witherspoon, via WGRZ.com

After a tough loss on the football field yesterday, Cats fans everywhere went to bed disappointed or, if you’re Stephen Johnson, “frustrated.” But today is a new day, and Kentucky basketball is back in action. Tonight at 6:00 p.m., the Wildcats will be facing the Canisius College Golden Griffins. Before tip-off, here are four things you need to know about UK’s upcoming opponent.

1.) How to pronounce it

Ah, the basics. After watching several YouTube videos, the best way for me to describe it is “cuh-knee-shus.” The more you know.

2.) Their coach is as new as they come

Reggie Witherspoon was hired by the Golden Griffins last May after former coach Jim Baron announced his decision to retire. Although Witherspoon may be new to this team, he is not new to coaching. He spent 14 years as the head coach at the University of Buffalo, in which the Bulls went 174-143 during his last 10 seasons. Witherspoon was named Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2012. However, they failed to make the NCAA Tournament during this time period, so he was let go in 2013. He went on to be an assistant at Alabama under Anthony Grant, but was fired when Avery Johnson took over as the head coach. In 2015-16, Witherspoon was an assistant at UT-Chattanooga. Tonight will be the Golden Griffins’ first game of the season, and therefore Witherspoon’s first game as head coach of the program.

3.) Well… almost as new as they come

After being hired just six months ago, it’s understandable to expect Witherspoon to still be a bit overwhelmed. But not so fast. During his time at the University of Buffalo, he experienced an even quicker turnaround. He was named as the interim coach of UB on Saturday, Dec. 4, 1999. On Tuesday, Dec. 7, Buffalo played North Carolina. Four days. FOUR!

“We practiced once on Saturday. Twice on Sunday. Once on Monday. That was a case of I hope I remember all the names of the players on the team,” said Witherspoon.

Compared to four days, six months must seem like a lifetime to Witherspoon.

4.) The Cats have played them before

In January of 1997, Rick Pitino coached the Wildcats to an 86-45 victory over the Golden Griffins in his last season as head coach. In December of 1997, UK once again played Canisius, and first-year coach Tubby Smith led the team to an 81-54 victory. Both of these seasons, UK went on to play in the National Championship game…just saying.

Here are some fun throwback pictures from the 1997 game:

Derek Anderson via bigbluehistory.net

Derek Anderson via bigbluehistory.net

Wayne Turner, via bigbluehistory.net

Wayne Turner, via bigbluehistory.net

Kentucky's Derek Anderson drives past Kevin Thompson of Canisius during the first half on Thursday night, Jan. 9, 1997, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 68-45. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

Derek Anderson, via bigbluehistory.net

Hopefully we’ll see some equally epic dunks again tonight.


Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR

Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

11 Comments for Four Things You Didn’t Know About Canisius Basketball



  1. millertime98
    3:13 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

    Just FYI, that was Pitino’s last team, not Tubby’s team. He didn’t coach Derek Anderson. Facts are optional! Love y’all



    • Maggie Davis
      4:21 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

      I went back and double checked, and it turns out we’ve played them TWICE! Both games were in 1997, but one was in Jan. under Pitino and one was the next season in Dec. under Smith. Thanks for pointing that out!



  2. millertime98
    3:24 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

    And they lost in the title game lol, sorry.



  3. The Frizz
    4:05 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

    Jonathan Miller’s tears of sorrow about the election are awesome. It is almost as awesome as watching people protest an election result, especially after the media and liberals threw hissy fits over the fact that Trump did not agree to accept the results of the election. What is even better than both of those facts is the fact that regardless of who you liked and disliked (or disliked all of them and held your nose and voted for one), we will have a mostly peaceful transition of power. Now, if only we can survive as a country long enough to have political parties that actually put forth leaders as candidates, not stooges.

    I would have posted this under Jonathan Miller’s post, except I guess the KSR staff only wanted comments that supported his position. #tolerance #notreally



    • runningunnin.454
      5:29 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

      I, too, thought it odd no comments were allowed; never saw that before.
      I was just going to ask him,
      “Feel Better”?



  4. The Frizz
    4:11 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

    And the two groups listed, New Kentucky Project and No Labels, are groups repacked with a different name, but the same agendas. It’s what liberals/progressives do: rebrand but not change.



  5. RealCatsFan
    4:21 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

    To “The Frizz”, haters gonna hate! So much for gracious winners (and for the record, I voted, but not for either the red clown or the orange one). I do hope that Trump gets something meaningful accomplished, but I worry that he will only stack the deck even more in favor of the economic elite while turning his back on the middle class. I sincerely hope and pray that I am wrong.



  6. RealCatsFan
    4:25 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

    And since this is SUPPOSED to be about the basketball team we are playing, I have no idea what a Griffin is, but I suspect it has something to do with that bizarre half lion/half eagle mascot they sport. Maybe that should have been added to the “Things you didn’t know about Canisius”…



    • The Frizz
      4:58 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

      If you read the last part of my post, you would understand why I posted here. I just love when the KSR staff gets their politics thrown back in their face. And typical for them, they put up something about politics and close the comments. That shows how thin skinned they are. If they stuck to UK sports, I would stick to UK sports.



    • runningunnin.454
      5:28 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

      Right, the lion is the king of beasts, and the eagle is the king of birds so it’s supposed to be some kind of bada$$.
      Not tonight though.



  7. millertime98
    4:33 pm November 13, 2016 Permalink

    Griffins are often found at the top of buildings kind of like gargoyles. Maggie, I didn’t want to be a jerk, I just knew someone would point it out and might be a jerk about it. Good post, thanks for all you do.
    As far as politics… Godspeed.