New Niagara coach Chris Casey’s job just got a lot harder than expected.
Juan’ya Green, the 2011 MAAC Rookie of the Year, and Ameen Tanksley will transfer from the team, according to Bob DiCesare of the Buffalo News. The transfers mean that the Purple Eagles lose their best overall player and top rebounder from a team that captured the MAAC regular season title and earned a berth to the NIT this season.
Green was an all-around great player for Niagara, averaging 16.5 points, second on the team, 4.5 assists and four boards for the 19-14 Purple Eagles, a year after pouring in 17.7 points as a freshman. He’ll now likely be one of the top transfers on the market.
Tanksley was one of the better players for coach Joe Mahalich last season, contributing 11.3 points, six rebounds and shooting 41 percent from the field. It’s unclear whether Green and Tanksley were granted their releases. Both players will have two seasons of eligibility remaining at whatever schools they transfer to.
Losing Tanksley and Green is huge. Before this, Casey was set to inherit a team that lost only one player off last season’s squad. In other words, he was getting a roster that would content right away for another MAAC title. Now it seems Casey may need to dig in to some recruiting ties late in the season — the junior colleges are in their showcase season and signing season for 2013 high school players is slowing down — to field a team that could still contend.
Casey does get back Antoine Mason — the team’s leading scorer at 18.7 points per game last season — who looks as if he’ll be staying at Niagara for his junior year, along with fourth-leading scorer Marvin Jordan and fifth-year senior Scooter Gillette, who missed most of last season with an injury.
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