Courtesy of GoGriffs.com
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) announced Thursday that Canisius basketball legends Mike Smrek and Mike Rappl will be inducted in the 2018 MAAC Honor Roll. Honorees will be enshrined in “The MAAC Experience” exhibit at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Each member institution of the MAAC honors one male and one female from its basketball “family” as part of the 2018 induction class. A dinner event takes place Sept. 15 at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Court of Dreams to recognize this year’s Honor Roll inductees.
Each honoree will be profiled in the game program for the 2019 MAAC Basketball Championships and will be featured in a video display at “The MAAC Experience.”
Mike Smrek ’85
Mike Smrek’s freshman bio in the 1981-82 Canisius men’s basketball media guide stated his “lack of experience against proven talent will hinder him somewhat this season.”
The Port Robinson, Ontario native did not let that keep him down for long, and in 1985, after a Hall of Fame career with the Golden Griffins, he was selected with the 25th overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.
Smrek played in 108 career games on Main Street from 1981-85, where he earned 92 starts. His banner season came as a senior in 1984-85, where he averaged 15.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game for the Griffs as the Blue and Gold posted a 20-10 overall record and a 13-3 mark in North Atlantic Conference play. That season, where he was an All-NAC First-Team honoree, Canisius earned a trip to the NAC title game and a berth into the NIT, the program’s first national postseason appearance in 22 years. He ended his time at Canisius as the school’s career leader in blocked shots with 172—currently ranks third—and his 57.8-percent success rate from the floor still ranks first on the program’s career field goal percentage list.
In June of 1985, Smrek became the 16th former Griff to be drafted by an NBA franchise when the Portland Trail Blazers chose him with the first pick of the second round. He never played a game for the Trail Blazers, however, as he was a piece in a draft night trade that sent his rights to the Chicago Bulls. His 12-year pro career saw him play 194 career games in the NBA with Chicago, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. With the Lakers, he won two World Championships in 1986-87 and 1987-88 playing with the likes of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. By earning those two championship rings, he became the first Canadian-born player to win multiple NBA crowns. He also spent two seasons playing professionally overseas in Italy, Greece and Croatia before retiring in 1997.
Smrek became the 46th member of the Canisius men’s basketball program to be inducted into the Canisius Sports Hall in 1998.
Canisius’ previous MAAC Hall of Fame Honor Roll honorees for men’s basketball are Anthony Masiello (2011-12), Hon. Henry Nowak (2012-13), Frank Swiatek (2013-14), “Sugar Ray” Hall (2014-15), Phil Seymore (2015-16), Dr. Dan Starr (2016-17) andCraig Wise (2017-18).
Mike Rappl ’77, MS ’80
Mike Rappl is best known as the winningest softball coach in MAAC history. But the Buffalo, NY, native also proved he knew how to coach basketball as well.
In seven seasons as the head women’s basketball coach at Canisius from 1986-93, Rappl posted 93 career victories and helped lead the program into the Division I era, as the College joined the MAAC prior to the start of the 1989-90 academic year. In that season, Rappl’s squad posted an overall record of 21-7, just the fourth 20-win campaign for the Golden Griffins at that point in the program’s history, and the Blue and Gold earned votes in the Associated Press Top-25 Division I poll for the first time in school history. When he retired from leading the Canisius women’s basketball program at the end of the 1992-93 season, his 93 victories ranked second in program history, with 13 of those wins coming against long-time local rivals Buffalo, Niagara and St. Bonaventure.
Prior to taking over as the head coach for the Canisius women’s basketball program and transitioning the team from the Division II level to Division I, Rappl served as an assistant coach with the program for five seasons. He was a part of Sister Maria Pares’ coaching staff in 1982-83 when the Griffs earned a trip to the Elite 8 round of the 1983 NCAA Division II Tournament, and he later served as the president of the Middle Eastern Collegiate Women’s Basketball Conference from 1985-87. In addition to his college basketball coaching responsibilities, he coached the Western New York Open Women’s Basketball teams at the Empire State Games from 1983-91 and his squads won gold medals in 1986, 1987 and 1989 to go with silver medals in 1983 and 1990. He also served as the venue chair for Women’s Basketball in 1993 when the City of Buffalo hosted the World University Games.
A member of the Canisius Sports Hall of Fame, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame, Rappl won 831 career games leading the Canisius softball program from 1980-2014. He led the Griffs to 13 MAAC regular-season softball titles, 12 MAAC Softball championships and 11 appearances in the NCAA Division I Softball Tournament. His softball teams went to the MAAC Championship 21 times in a 25-year span, where the Blue and Gold advanced to 17 title games. He recorded 14-straight years with 20-plus wins, highlighted by a 36-win season in 1993 where Canisius set the NCAA record for consecutive victories as winners in 35 straight to open the campaign.
Canisius’ previous MAAC Hall of Fame Honor Roll honorees for women’s basketball are Karen Freeman (2011-12), Gina Castelli(2012-13), Dr. Ellen Conley (2013-14), Kara Haun-Rehbaum (2014-15), Sister Maria Pares (2015-16) and Shauna Green(2016-17).