Chris Casey enters year two at Niagara with bright future and winnable games in schedule. (Photo courtesy of Big Apple Buckets)
After a challenging first season on Monteagle Ridge, Chris Casey has reloaded and rebuilt, and will have more than his share of opportunities to contend early at Niagara in year two.
"Our nonconference schedule will, by design, challenge our very young team," Casey intimated as the Purple Eagles released their full schedule earlier this afternoon. "We expect our players to gain experience as they move through the schedule and improve each game."
Niagara christens the 2014-15 season at the Petersen Center against Pittsburgh on November 14 before opening MAAC play with an uncharacteristically early December 20 affair at Saint Peter's. Two days later, Hartford will visit the Gallagher Center to contest the Purple Eagles' home opener, with St. Bonaventure playing a neutral site game at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo on November 29.
Casey opens the month of December by reconnecting with his past in the form of St. John's, where he was a former assistant coach under Norm Roberts, when his team comes to Carnesecca Arena on December 2 to battle Steve Lavin and the Red Storm. Casey was an assistant on the St. John's bench the last time Niagara played in Queens, when Charron Fisher led Joe Mihalich to a 77-73 victory on December 15, 2007.
Niagara's second MAAC game comes at home on December 6th in the "Battle of the Bridge" against local foe Canisius. Road trips to Davidson (December 13) and Buffalo (December 19) precede a four-game homestand in which Arkansas State (December 23) and Albany (December 30) serve as the Purple Eagles' penultimate non-league tuneups prior to hosting reigning conference champion Manhattan (January 2) and Monmouth (January 4) to ring in 2015.
A final nonconference date, against Penn on January 13, starts a three-game homestand that also sees Iona (January 16) and Siena (January 18) come to the Gallagher Center. Return matches on the road with Monmouth (January 23) and Iona (January 25) are next on the ledger before Marist (January 30) and Quinnipiac (February 1) come to western New York, only to see Niagara return the favor on February 6 and 8 against the Red Foxes and Bobcats, respectively.
Saint Peter's and Rider make their Buffalo pilgrimage on February 13 and 15, with a road journey to Fairfield (February 19) and Rider (February 21) following on Niagara's slate before a second clash with Canisius on February 24. The Purple Eagles close the regular season at home on March 1 against Fairfield.