Amid the gratification of turning around the fortunes of a struggling basketball program at Canisius, Billy Baron's voice still cracks with a hint of emotion recalling the long consoling embrace he shared with his dad in the front seat of their car parked on the Rhode Island campus.
Jim Baron had just informed his son that he had been fired as the Rams coach. And Billy, the starting point guard, couldn't shake the guilt of feeling partially responsible for the 7-24 finish.
''It was last March, almost a year to this day, and I kind of hit rock bottom,'' Billy Baron said. ''It was rock bottom, because I felt accountable for what happened.''
He never saw it coming, especially after having transferred from Virginia to join his dad the previous summer.
It was no easier for Jim, who was fired for the first time in 25 years as a head coach. He had difficulty believing how one lousy season could undo the 10 good years at Rhode Island that preceded it, a stretch in which he won 176 games...