By BOB DICESARE
The mass exodus from the Niagara basketball program continued over the weekend as freshman forward TJ Cline tweeted that he's landed at Richmond of the Atlantic 10. That came on the heels of the anticipated news that all-MAAC guard Juan'ya Green and his lifelong friend and Niagara teammate Ameen Tanksley both are joining former Purple Eagles coach Joe Mihalich at Hofstra. They will sit out next season and be eligible in 2014-15.
Cline's departure means five players off Niagara's MAAC regular-season title team won't be back next season. Guard Malcolm Lemmons also has been granted his release and center Devon White has graduated. Meanwhile, freshman guard Tahjere McCall, a starter at the point much of last season, remains with the program and sources say has not requested his release.
Here are the numbers on what Niagara has lost since Mihalich took the Hofstra job last month:
Green: 16.5 ppg, 5 apg
Tanksley: 11.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg
Cline: (all freshman team) 7.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Lemmons: 3.3 ppg
White: 5.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg
That makes it some 44 points per game departed. Niagara has retained leading scorer Antoine Mason (18.7) but has mega-holes to fill between now and the season opener. New coach Chris Casey has signed Philly guard Karonn Davis and continues to work feverishly to fill out a slew of other roster spots.
As of now the starting lineup could look something like Mason, McCall, Marvin Jordan, Joe Thomas and . . . . Scooter Gillette?
In regard to Green and Tanksley, it's commonplace for Niagara to deny players transfer requests within conference or the Big 4. In this case, though, Hofstra should have been included on the list since Mihalich made a lateral move (at significantly more pay) and the situation invited Niagara plyers to follow. In Cline's case, if a player can land at a higher level, more power to him.
taggedMetro Atlantic Athletic Conference | Transfer