Juan'ya Green, who nearly won MAAC Player of Year honors this past season, is one of two Purple Eagle players to be granted release to transfer in wake of coach Joe Mihalich leaving for Hofstra. (Photo courtesy of the Buffalo News)
New Niagara head coach Chris Casey was already walking into a challenge when he was hired a week ago today to replace Joe Mihalich at the helm of the reigning regular season MAAC champion Purple Eagles.
Seven days later, Casey may have an even bigger issue on his hands, as guard Juan'ya Green and forward Ameen Tanksley have requested; and have subsequently been granted, releases to transfer. The two sophomores were Niagara's second and third-leading scorers this past season, and were integral parts of the Purple Eagles' nineteen-win season that culminated with an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament, where Niagara lost its opening-round game to Maryland. News of the transfer requests was broken by Bob DiCesare, who covers Niagara for the Buffalo News, and confirmed by the school.
Green was slated to enter his junior season as one of the preseason favorites for the MAAC Player of the Year award after narrowly losing out on that honor this past season to Momo Jones of Iona following a sophomore campaign that saw him average 16.5 points to go with nearly five assists and two steals per game at the point guard position. Tanksley, a Philadelphia native like Green, managed to amass 11.3 points and six rebounds per game, the latter leading the team. At the moment, leading scorer Antoine Mason has not been mentioned in transfer talks, and it is worth noting that Casey was an assistant on the St. John's teams that Mason's older brother Anthony Jr. played for in the mid-to-late 2000s under Norm Roberts.
Ironically, the Hofstra program Mihalich left Niagara for three weeks ago faced an eerily similar situation three years ago when Tom Pecora left the Pride to take over at Fordham. Not only did Pecora's top recruit Branden Frazier follow him to Rose Hill, but point guard Chaz Williams and forward Halil Kanacevic transferred to Massachusetts and Saint Joseph's, respectively, shortly after Pecora was hired at Fordham.
Please continue to follow A Daly Dose Of Hoops for more information on this topic as it becomes available, as well as news and notes from across the MAAC this offseason.