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Full scrimmage for Blue & White game

---Spring practice comes to close Saturday at UB with the annual Blue and White game and for the first time in recent memory, the team will be divided for a full scrimmage.

In the past, largely because of a lack of depth, the format was offense vs. defense with a complex scoring system. But the balance in the recruiting classes under fourth-year coach Jeff Quinn have afforded the Bulls an opportunity to split the team evenly.

"I know the kids are really excited about it because it's more realistic in terms of game-like situations," Quinn said Friday. "This is the right way to do it. If I could have done in the previous years I would have, but our recruited hadn't caught up with the balance over the last couple of years."

There won't be live special teams play when the game begins at 2 p.m. at UB Stadium. The Bulls are a bit thin at the line on both sides of the ball, but that will allow some underclassmen to play more snaps.

"We have to play smart, we're a football team that's competed in 14 practices and done an outstanding job understanding the tempo and understand how to protect one another but still play full speed," Quinn said.

---Rodney McKissic

Report: Casey visits Niagara

 by Amy Moritz

    A report from CBSSports.com has named Chris Casey as the next men's basketball coach at Niagara.
    Sources could not confirm a hire, but said Casey was on campus today to meet with athletic department officials.
    Niagara is looking to replace Joe Mihalich, who took the head coaching job at Hofstra.
    Casey has been the head coach at Division II LIU Post for the past three seasons where he went 62-25 with two East Coast Conference titles and two NCAA tournament appearances. Before the job with the Pioneers, Casey spent six seasons at St. John's University under Norm Roberts. He spent two seasons as director of operations before being promoted to assistant coach.
    Casey's other coaching stops include Central Connecticut State, Rutgers University-Newark and St. Peter's. He spent eight years with St. Peter's and was the recruiting coordinator when they won the MAAC title in 1991 and 1995.
    Should Casey be named for the Niagara job, he will be the second LIU Post coach to leave the Pioneers for a MAAC school. Casey got the job at LIU Post three years ago when Tim Cluess left to take over the Iona program.

Castelli named Le Moyne coach

by Amy Moritz

Canisius College Hall of Famer Gina Castelli is back in the head coaching game.

Le Moyne College named Castelli their women's basketball coach today. She spent this past season as the Director of Player Development at Rhode Island after she spent 22 seasons as the head coach for Siena. After the 2011-12 season, Siena and Castelli had reached a "mutual decision" to part ways.

Castelli is the winningest coach in Siena basketball history with a 336-296 record (.532). She went 225-146 in the MAAC for the third-most wins in conference history. She was the MAAC Coach of the Year five times (1991, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2002) and led the Saints to seven regular season conference titles and one MAAC tournament championship in 2001.

A 1986 graduated of Canisius, her 1,524 career points ranks fifth in program history while her 578 assists and 273 steals rank third. She was induced into the Golden Griffins' Hall of Fame in 1997.

She takes over a Le Moyne program which finished this past season at 6-20 overall and 4-18 in the Northeast-10 Conference.

USA Synchro responds to Canisius

by Amy Moritz

USA Synchro, the organization that serves as the national governing body for synchronized swimming in the United States, released a statement about the recent decision of Canisius College to move the sport from varsity to club status for next season:

"We at USA Synchro are heartbroken to learn that Canisius College will be demoting one of the most successful sports in its collegiate history from varsity to club status. We believe that athletics is about achieving excellence, and the synchronized swimming team has done just that. No sport in the college's history has achieved the number of all-Americans and national medal winners as has Canisius College synchronized swimming, which recently finished fourth at an NCAA national competition."

Executive director Julie Swarts urged athletes, coaches and fans of the sport to contact Canisius athletics director Bill Maher.

In her statement Swarts also wrote:

"Synchronized swimming is a sport on the rise. Over the past five years, the number of members has steadily continued to rise in the U.S. We believe collegiate synchronized swimming is just coming into its own promoting excellent athletes and outstanding students. We hope Mr. Maher will hear the synchro community, the potential loss for his institution, and reconsider the status of this wonderful program."

For the record, the NCAA dropped the sport of synchronized swimming from its emerging sport list in 2010. The NCAA does not sponsor a championship for the sport at any level. Since losing emerging sport status in 2010 other schools which have removed synchronized swimming from its varsity program include the University of Alabama, Birmingham and Keuka. 

Canisius College can still participate in the U.S. Collegiate Nationals, sponsored by USA Synchro, and other meets across the country. The program, however, will not receive financial assistance from the Canisius athletic department including student-athlete scholarships.

Jenkins playing in title series

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz 

Former St. Bonaventure guard Jessica Jenkins is having a solid first season in professional women's basketball.

Playing for Keflavik of the Iceland-Dominos League, she has helped to guide her team to the championship series scheduled to begin on Saturday.

She had 16 points with seven rebounds and eight assists in the decisive contest of a five-game series to send her her club to the championship round.

In 31 regular season games, Jenkins averaged 17.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists. She has 10 20-plus point performances this season and three 30-plus games.

You can follow Jenkins on Twitter at @jessjenks14

Photo courtesy www.gobonies.com

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Home Run Derby Today

by Amy Moritz

Calling all would-be softball sluggers.

In between today's softball doubleheader between Canisius and Niagara at the Demske Sports Complex, the Griffs will host a Home Run Derby open to the public to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. For $5 you get three swings, whether you can crank the home runs or squib out a single.

The competition is expected to begin around 4:30 p.m. and finish around 5 p.m.

The first game of the MAAC doubleheader starts at 3 p.m. Canisius is 17-14 overall and 2-2 in conference play while Niagara is 4-24 overall and 1-5 in the MAAC.

Bauth nears 800 career wins at ECC

by Amy Moritz

Erie Community College travels to Jamestown today for a twinbill in Region III baseball action. But the best story of the day is in the dugout.

Head coach Joe Bauth is two wins away from 800 career victories with the Kats' program.

ECC is 17-11 overall and 5-0 in Region III.

Bauth is in his 22nd season with the Kats baseball program, the longest tenured coach at ECC. He has led the Kats to six Region III titles and five NJCAA World Series appearances. The last two years, the Kats have compiled 30-win seasons.

In 2011, the team went 30-18 and finished fourth at the NJCAA World Series. Last season, the Kats went 32-17 and were the Region III Tournament runner-up.

ECC plays at Finger Lakes Community College on Tuesday.

Hurley lands first recruit

Bobby Hurley has his first recruit at UB after receiving a verbal commitment from Deyshonee Much from Redemption Christian Academy in Troy.

The 6-foot-4 Much previously played at Gates-Chili in suburban Rochester before attending prep school at Redemption. He also drew interest from Canisius, Rhode Island, Texas State, Northern Kentucky, Northeastern, Canisius, Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth.

Much committed to Hurley last weekend.

---Rodney McKissic

Source: Mihalich named coach at Hofstra

Niagara's Joe Mihalich has been named the coach at Hofstra University according to a source. The school has scheduled a press conferenced for noon Wednesday to officially announce the hiring.

Mihalich, the winningest coach in MAAC history, led a young Purple Eagles squad to the league's regular season crown and a berth in the NIT last season.

---Rodney McKissic

Niagara's Beattie joins Amerks

Niagara senior defenseman and co-captain Jason Beattie has signed an amateur tryout contract with the Rochester Americans.

Beattie, who scored the lone goal in the Purple Eagles' season-ending 2-1 loss to North Dakota in the NCAA Tournament last week, becomes the 19th Niagara product to join the active pro hockey ranks. Beattie, a stay-at-home type of defenseman, will play for the Amerks, the Buffalo Sabres' minor-league affiliate, for the remainder of the regular season and post season. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Beattie finished with seven goals and 25 points during his 106-game career at Niagara.

"This is a great opportunity for Jason," Purple Eagles coach Dave Burkholder said.  "He has prepared himself for this, and we know he will do well.  Everyone with Niagara hockey are very proud of his accomplishment."
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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare | bdicesare@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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