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Ortega, Dixon and Wilson will not return to St. Bonaventure

by Amy Moritz
@amymoritz

St. Bonaventure's leading scorer will not return for her senior season. Doris Ortega along with guards CeCe Dixon and Tatiana Wilson were dismissed from the Bona women's basketball team.

"Obviously we wish them well," Bona coach Jim Crowley said. "It just didn't work here."

Crowley said all three have been granted their release and play at any school they wish. He also added about the departure, "I wouldn't say it was mutual."

Ortega started 27 games for the Bonnies last year, averaging 12.1 points. Dixon played in 24 games, missing five after being suspended for what was called an "internal team issue." The Bonnies seemed to be fighting through internal issues and chemistry problems at times last season. Combine that with a young team and several injuries and the program that went to the Sweet 16 in 2012 finished up 2013 with a 10-19 overall record and a 3-11 Atlantic 10 mark.

Wilson, who would have been a junior at Bona, averaged 9.1 minutes and saw action in 26 games.

Ortega and Dixon had been key components of the Bonnies run in 2012 as sophomores but seemed to stumble as juniors with the ability to take their game and leadership to the next level.

With their departures, Bona now returns just eight players -- two seniors and six sophomores -- with two freshman on the roster for next season.

Among those returning are seniors Ashly Zahn and Chelsea Bowker, who sat out last year as a medical redshirt with an ankle injury.

Among the sophomores returning are Katie Healy (Lancaster), Nyla Rueter and Emily Michael, all of whom saw significant playing time as freshmen.

Crowley said the team has responded very well to the loss of their teammates.

"From the time it happened, they have focused on moving forward," Crowley said. "We've gotten some great work ethic and leadership from people. They've had a solid spring and summer. We lost talent. Over the last two years we've lost a lot of it, but we have good talent here. We're getting used to each other, to playing together and for each other. Each day we're a day closer."

 

Niagara women lose three players

By Rodney McKissic

The Niagara University women’s basketball team will enter next season minus three major contributors.

Starters Lauren Gatto and Kayla Stroman reserve Shy Britton will not return to the team, Niagara athletic department spokesman Derick Thornton confirmed on Tuesday.

Gatto and Stroman both received their degrees this month while Britton was dismissed from the team for a violation of the school’s student athlete’s code of conduct.

The 6-foot-2 Gatto will be difficult to replace. The Illinois-Chicago transfer led the team in scoring (14.0), rebounding (6.2) and field-goal percentage (49.0 percent). She graduated with a master’s degree in business management and had a year of eligibility remaining.

Stroman, who also earned a business management degree, was a fixture at point guard in her three-plus seasons at Niagara. She started all 31 games as a freshman before her sophomore season was cut short by a knee injury. Stroman, who had one season of eligibility remaining, started the next 63 games of her career, including 31 last season when she averaged 6.6 points and a team-high 4.0 assists.

Britton saw action in 30 games last season and started five while averaging 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds.  

Canisius lands Stetson transfer

By Rodney McKissic

Canisius gained some much needed help in their backcourt with the addition of former Stetson guard Chris Perez.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Perez, who also played one season at Liberty, has already graduated from Stetson and will be eligible to play immediately. He has one season of eligibility remaining.

Perez is expected to fill the void created by the graduation of Isaac Sosa, the Golden Griffins' third-leading scorer behind Billy Baron and Harold Washington at 11.6 points a game.

Canisius not only loses both Sosa and Washington but reserve guards Alshwan Hymes and Reggie Groves, who had one season of eligibility remaining but has graduated and will not return to the team.

Also not returning are a pair of freshmen: Guard Jermaine Johnson, who will transfer to a junior college, and forward Tyrel Edwards who is seeking to attend an NAIA school.

In 31 games including 30 starts, Perez was Stetson's second-leading scorer at 15.1 points. He shot 48.6 percent from the floor overall and 31.1 percent from 3-point range. He also averaged 4.1 rebounds and led the team in steals with 35.

Source: Cline will transfer to Richmond

By Rodney McKissic

The mass exedous from Niagara in the wake of Joe Mihalich's departure continues with freshman T.J. Cline giving a verbal commitment to attend Richmond according to a source.

Cline, the son of Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, visited Charlotte last week and informed the 49ers staff on Saturday that he would attend Richmond. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Cline was named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team after averaging 7.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in 33 games. He also led the Purple Eagles in 3-point shooting percentage with 33.6 percent.

Cline must sit out the 2013-14 season per NCAA transfer rules, but will have three seasons of eligibility remaining. The news comes just days after Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley joined Mihalich at Hofstra.


The Ins and Outs at Niagara

By BOB DICESARE

Niagara coach Chris Casey has landed his first recruit as he strives to stablize a Niagara basketball program that continues to be hit by defections.

Niagara has signed Karonn Davis,  6-2 combo guard from Friends Central near Philly, but sources say the Purple Eagles are losing senior-to-be Malcolm Lemmons, who has elected to transfer. Lemmons, a reserve guard, joins All-MAAC guard Juan'ya Green and rebounding leader Ameen Tanksley on the transfer wagon that's crowding since coach Joe Mihalich was announced as the new head coach at Hofstra. Sources say Green and Tanksley are preparing to visit Hofstra, which was not forbidden when they were granted their transfers by the Purple Eagles.

Could another defection be forthcoming?

Continue reading "The Ins and Outs at Niagara" »

UB Hoops Adds Third Recruit

By Bob DiCesare

Justin Moss, a 6-foot-7 forward, has signed with UB out of Indian Hills Community College and is expected to step right in and play according to Bulls coach Bobby Hurley.

"Justin is going to be a great addtion to the program," Hurley said in a news release. "I'm confident that he will be an immediate contributor next year."

Continue reading "UB Hoops Adds Third Recruit" »

Green, Tanksley Leaving Niagara

By Bob DiCesare

When coach Joe Mihalich left Niagara for Hofstra last month Purple Eagle fans could take comfort in the wealth of talent he was leaving behind.

It’s time to get uncomfortable.

All-conference guard Juan’ya Green and rebounding leader Ameen Tanksley have been granted transfer requests and are leaving the university, athletic department spokesman Derick Thornton confirmed today. The two sophomores are Philadelphia natives and lifelong friends.

Continue reading "Green, Tanksley Leaving Niagara" »

Gregg signs with Bonnies

---St. Bonaventure announced the signing of Denzel Gregg, a 6-foot-7 forward from Syracuse, who played his last two seasons at St. Thomas More Prep School in Connecticut.

Gregg helped St. Thomas to a 24-8 record and a spot in the National Prep School Tournament semifinals this past season. Gregg averaged 12 points and six rebounds a game for a balanced team that featured 10 players who received college scholarships.

“We’re most excited about Denzel's tremendous upside,” Schmidt said in a statement released by the school about the 17-year-old Gregg. “He's a long, athletic forward whose versatility will allow him to guard multiple positions at the defensive end and create mismatches on the offensive side of the ball.”

ESPN College Basketball analysts graded Gregg as one the top-125 class of 2013 forwards in the nation, and the New England Basketball Recruiting Report ranked him as the No. 22 overall prospect in his class.

An ESPN analyst had the following to say about the 195-pound senior:

“Gregg is an explosive athlete with incredible leaping ability. He's as quick off his feet as he is high above the rim, a terrific lob catcher and the type of finisher who can instantly change the momentum of a game.”

Gregg is St. Bonaventure’s first commitment this year.

---Rodney McKissic

Niagara hires Casey

Niagara named Chris Casey its new men’s basketball coach Monday, ending a 12-day search to replace Joe Mihalich, who departed for Hofstra after 15 seasons.

Casey spent the last three seasons at Long Island University Post, where he took the Pioneers to two Division II NCAA Tournaments in 2012 and 2013, finishing with a 62-25 record.  In 2011-12, Casey was named East Coast Conference coach of the year and the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Division II coach of the year.

This season, LIU Post finished with an 18-9 record and finished tied for second in the conference with a 13-5 ECC record, which was a determining factor Niagara, which returns its core group after claiming the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season championship.

All of Niagara’s players attended Monday’s press conference to announce Casey’s hiring and Casey has three scholarships to fill. The Purple Eagles last NCAA appearance was in 2007.

---Rodney McKissic

Canisius-Evansville Game Wrap

CIT Quarterfinal
Evansville 84, Canisius 83

How Evansville Won: The Purple Aces were in trouble down nine at intermission but opened the second half with a run and then rode the exploits of a finalist for mid-major player of the year. Porous defense tormented the Griffs in the MAAC semifinals and it was the same here. Evansville shot 60 percent in the second half.

Player of the Game: The best Canisius season in more than a decade has come to a close. But there are worse things than saying you were done in by Colt Ryan. The 6-5 senior guard was unstoppable, scoring 39 points on 11 of 22 from the field (5 of 9 on 3s) and 12 of 15 from the line. He also had a team-high six boards. And played 38 minutes. And never looked the worse for wear. Even the most ardent Griffs fan would have to admit he was a treat to watch.

Best Player (Losing Effort): Billy Baron struck for 21 points to finish the season with 584. That's the highest total for a Griff since Ray Hall in 1984-85 and the most points by a Canisius junior since Hall the previous season.

Another Go?: Reggie Groves was honored on Senior Night a couple weeks back but he still has a year of eligibility remaining. Hard to imagine he wouldn't come in handy next year, especially with the graduation losses the Griffs will sustain in the backcourt. Groves had seven points and six assists against two turnovers in 26 minutes. Harold Washington's foul trouble forced him into extended action.

Stat Check: This was the seventh time the Griffs scored at least 74 points and lost.

Stat Check II: Evansville scored 23 points off 16 Canisius turnovers. All nine Griffs who played committed at least one.

Seasonal: Chris Manhertz had six boards, pushing his season total to 297, seventh on the school single-season list . . . Isaac Sosa two treys pushed his school season-season record to 95 . . . With three blocks Jordan Heath went to 53, sixth most in a season.

In the House: 1,403 were on hand but it seemed like more. And the crowd was into it. Yup. After that looooong dry spell the Griffs matter again.

Canisius coach Jim Baron: "Down the stretch here (we were) playing against all good teams. This team beat Wichita State and you see them in the Sweet Sixteen right now. You can see why they beat Wichita State. You got to give them credit. They made their shots they made their plays they made their free throws and we have to play a flawless game to beat them."

Evansville coach Marty Simmons and if he's seen Ryan take over a game in that fashion: "I have. I mean I have. . . . I knowwe played Bradley last year at home and Creighton last year at Creighton he got on a roll like that. But he's been pretty consistent really for four years."

Simmons on Billy Baron: "He's a great player in transition. He really knows how to push it. He's really good off ball screens. . . . He's got great hesitation. He's got a quick first step. His knowledge of the game is tremendous."

Recapping: Canisius finished 20-14, a 15-win improvement over last season.

-- Bob DiCesare

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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


Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic

Rodney McKissic began his journalism career in 1989 after graduating from the University of Cincinnati and has worked for The Buffalo News since 2001. A proud father of four children, he enjoys reading in his spare time.

@RodneyMcKissic | rmckissic@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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