How Siena Won: In the words of Saints coach Jimmy Patsos, the Saints made it a priority to "engage" Antoine Mason whenever the nation's leading scorer touched the ball. The in-your-face approach limited Mason's dribble-penetration and made Niagara look elsewhere for points. Rayvon Harris stepped up but Purple Eagles needed more.
Turning Point: The game was tied at 26 after a Niagara rally but the Saints went on a 21-9 run to end the half, opening a 12-point lead that was never seriously threatened.
Player of the Game: I've always like Rob Poole's game and the Siena junior guard could be in for a big season given the Saints' size and physicality up front. He struck for 21 points, going 4 of 6 from three.
Stat Check: The final stats say Niagara outscored Siena 46-38 in the paint. How so? Niagara was down 26-18 in the paint at halftime. They scored 36 second-half points. Eight of those came at the free throw line.
Stat Check II: Niagara went 0 for 13 from three. Momma said there'd be nights like that.
Minutes Made: Joe Thomas barely saw the floor in the first half but had four points, four blocks and six boards in the second half. Niagara could have used him when Siena was having its way underneath early.
What It Means: Niagara's losing streak hit seven with a loss in the MAAC opener. Its only victory this season? UB.
In the House: They're taking a wait-and-see approach to Chris Casey's tenure on The Ridge. There were 1,442 on hand, about 1,000 under capacity.
What's Next: Niagara entertains Saint Peter's Sunday afternoon while Siena motors down the road to Canisius.
Mike Kitts, a Sryacuse native who is regarded as one of the top officials in college basketball for the last 30 years, will be taking over the task of managing referees for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Kitts will officiate this next season and in the 2014-15 season will take over as Coordinator of Men's Basketball Officials for the MAAC. He will take over for Brad Tracy, who has been in the position since the 1990-91 season and is retiring after this season.
In 2008, Kitts was the Naismith Award winner, given annually to the nation's top referee. He has officiated 14 of the last 15 MAAC men's championship games.
Kitts has officiated the MAAC’s championship game in 14 of the last 15 tournaments, and in 2008, was the recipient of the Naismith Award, given annually to the nation’s top referee.
In a sit-down interview for the MAAC website (see below), Kitts said that a good referee has judgement, common sense and rule knowledge.
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.
The Canisius College baseball team achieved program firsts Sunday afternoon when it won the program's Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship to also earn its first trip to the NCAA Tournament.
They did it in walk-off style, but it sure was not your typical game-winning situation.
Junior Jose Torralba was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Canisius a 12-11 victory over Siena before 517 at Arm & Hammer Stadium in Trenton, N.J.
"Getting hit with that pitch," Torralba said, "never felt better."
Canisius will learn which of 16 NCAA regional sites it will head to at noon Monday, when the NCAA baseball selection show is aired on ESPNU. In the 64-team tournament, four teams are placed at each regional, and double-elimination tournament determines which teams advance to the Super Regional round.
"This is truly a very resilient group," said ninth-year Canisius coach McRae. "They’ve been through their ups and downs all season. With this group of guys and the way our season's gone, there couldn’t have been a better ending.
"It's overwhelming. It's a ton of emotions rolled into one. To think ... of how bad the program was when we inheritied it to take it where it is today, I couldn't be happier for everybody: from the first recruiting class to the guys who are here right now. It's an awesome experience for everybody."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
---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
An ESPN analyst had the following to say about the
“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
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.
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.
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.