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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" »

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" »

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

Live chat at 3 p.m.: Canisius, NU skate into NCAA Tournament, with Amy Moritz

Big 4 players honored by NABC

Niagara's Juan'ya Green and Antoine Mason, Canisius' Billy Barron and UB's Javon McCrea were all named to the NABC Division I All-District teams which were announced today.

Green and Baron were named to the District 1 first team with Iona's Lamont Jones, Siena's O.D. Anosike and Stony Brook's Tommy Brenton. Mason was on the second team with Loyola's Erik Etherly, Boston University's D.J. Irving, Fairfield's Derek Needham and Stony Brook's Jameel Warney.

McCrea was on the District 14 first team along with Ohio's D.J. Cooper, Akron's Zeke Marshall, Toledo's Rian Pearson and Kent State's Chris Evans.

---Rodney McKissic

Live chat: College hockey with Amy Moritz at 10 a.m.

Postseason Hoops Honors

Catching up on some postseason honors that have been doled out while awaiting the start of the UB women's second-round MAC Tournament game against Miami here in Cleveland:

Ohio senior guard D.J. Cooper was named MAC Player of the Year today and Akron's Keith Dambrot was named Coach of the Year. I voted for both of them.

I was extremely high on UB's Javon McCrea but when the Bulls failed to finish .500 in conference I couldn't bring myself to cast the vote. And Cooper won me over with that go-ahead 3 he hit from Getzville in Ohio's 72-69 win at Alumni on March 5. Plus, Cooper will go down as one of the best guards in MAC history. It seemed kind of crazy he might leave never having won the award. So I'll admit it. Career achievement factored into my vote.

As for Dambrot, when you win the conference and put together a 19-game winning streak you don't leave much room for debate. Plus, I admired the way he responded to the Alex Abreu arrest that's probably going to cost the Zips an at-large if they don't win it all here.

The All-MAC first team consists of McCrea, Cooper, Akron center Zeke Marshall, Kent State forward Chris Evans and Toledo guard Rian Pearson. I believe that's exactly how I had it on my preseason ballot although ultimately Evans didn't make the preseason first-team.

UB's Jarryn Skeete was on the all-freshman team.

On the women's side, UB had two players receive honorable mention: freshman Mackenzie Loesing and sophomore Christa Baccas. Loesing also mad the all-freshman team.

* * * * *

In the MAAC, Coach of the Year Joe Mihalich is one of 20 finalists for the Skip Prosser Award given by collegeinsider.com. The award was initiated in 2008 and goes to a coach who achieves success on the court and demonstrates moral integrity off the court.
Western New York native and former ECC and Canisius coach John Beilein of Michigan also is a finalist.

Also from collegeinsider.com, Niagara's Juan'ya Green and Billy Baron of Canisius were tabbed as MAAC co-MVPs.

-- Bob DiCesare

Niagara-Iona Game Wrap (MAAC semis)

MAAC Semifinals
Iona 79, Niagara 72

How Iona Won: The Gaels dominated the inside, making it imperative for Niagara to shoot it well from the outside. That didn't happen. The Purple Eagles launched 33 shots from behind the arc and made just seven. They were 21 of 36 on two-pointers. What's more, Niagara scored just 12 points off 14 Iona turnovers.

Player of the Game: David Laury, Iona's 6-8 sophomore forward, was sensational. He had 20 points and 17 rebounds, giving him 44 points and 33 rebounds in two games against the Purple Eagles.

Best Supporting Role: Taaj Ridley, Laury's front-court mate, is benefiting from the room that opens because of Laury's presence. His 16 points were two off his season high.

Best Player (Losing Effort): With Tahjere McCall out injured, Marvin Jordan played all but a few seconds, scored 11 points and handed out six assists. And no turnovers.

Ellis Island: The Gaels don't develop freshman. They scour the country for players looking to transfer. Momo Jones came from Arizona. Tavon Sledge from Iowa State. Ridley, Laury and Tre Bowman were juco players. The only Gaels who came straight from high school: freshman A.J. English and junior Sean Armand.

Stat Check: Iona shot just five second-half threes to Niagara's 15. They both made two.

What It Means: Iona, an NCAA at-large team last year, looks to secure a second straight trip to The Dance with a win in Monday night's MAAC title game against Manhattan. The Jaspers are only the second No. 6 seed to tourney history to make the final. Niagara will play in the NIT, its prize for winning the conference regular-season crown.

They Said It

Niagara's Antoine Mason picked up his third foul when Momo Jones drew a charge with 6:17 remaining. Here's Jones:

"I've known him since I was a young kid. He's a power player. I knew he wanted to go right and I kept telling coach, 'Coach, all he wants to do is go right. All he wants to do is go right.' That was just the mindset. Make him go right. Take a charge. I think he had maybe two or three at that time and I knew if I could get that charge he would slow down and not be as aggressive as he was. I think that charge really set him back and he wasn't as aggressive as he was early on."

Iona coach Tim Cluess: "When we have four of five guys giving us good contributions and other guys coming off our bench and helping us in different roles then we're a pretty good basketball team. And right now we're a pretty good team."

Niagara coach Joe Mihalich: "Our hearts our broken. At the same time, as I said to the guys, at the same time there's a lot of guys whose hearts are broken and they've turned their uniforms in. We're not doing that."

Mason on Niagara's second-half shooting woes: "We just didn't hit them in the second half. The first half everything was going in. We got to make sure if it's not going in we got to mix it up."

-- Bob DiCesare

Live blog: Niagara vs. Siena men's hoops at 2:30 p.m.

MAAC Matchups Set

Here's how the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament shapes up this week in Springfield, Mass.:

On the women's side, No. 7 Canisius plays No. 10 Saint Peter's at noon on Thursday. If the Griffs win they'll face No. 2 Iona in the quarters at 9:30 Friday morning. No. 5 Niagara faces No. 4 Rider in the quarters at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

On the men's side, No. 1 Niagara plays the winner of Friday's 8-9 game between Marist and Siena at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. No. 5 Canisius meet No. 4 Iona at 4:30 Saturday. If the Griffs and Purple Eagles both will they'll meet in Sunday 2 p.m. semifinal.

-- 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 | [email protected]


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[email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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