Exodus from Niagara continues with Snowden, Richardson

By Nick Veronica

niagara_logo_bigTwo more players are leaving the Niagara basketball team, bringing Chris Casey’s transfer count to five just since the end of the season.

Second-leading scorer Ramone Snowden (10.7 points per game) told the Niagara Gazette on Tuesday that he wants to play closer to his hometown in Virginia.

And Tuesday night, Julian Richardson, a reserve guard who played in 11 games, tweeted he is seeking a transfer.

Snowden and Richardson join Wesley Myers, Rayvon Harris and DayJar Dickson in fleeing from Lewiston.

Snowden’s loss may be the biggest of the bunch. He led the team in minutes and steals per game as a sophomore and was second in points, rebounds, assists and blocks. Only Emile Blackman scored more points per game (13.7).

With five players transferring out, plus the mid-season loss of Anders Skou Hansen, that gives Casey six remaining scholarships. Dominic Robb committed earlier this week, but Niagara only used 12 scholarships last season.

Here’s a look at who’s still left from Niagara’s roster last season, arranged by points per game:

Emile Blackman – Still on scholarship (1)
Ramone Snowden – Transfer
Dominique Reid – Still on scholarship (2)
Wesley Myers – Transfer
Karonn Davis – Still on scholarship (3)
Rayvon Harris – Transfer
Matt Scott – Still on scholarship (4)
James Suber – Still on scholarship (5)
Julian Richardson – Transfer
Cameron Fowler – Still on scholarship (6)
DayJar Dickson – Transfer
Anders Skou Hansen – Left mid-season
Thomas Fleming – Still on team, walk-on
David Varoli – Still on team, walk-on

If I missed anyone, drop me a note a Twitter.


Postgame interviews: Niagara 82, Canisius 71

By Nick Veronica

Interviews from Niagara’s road win over Canisius, which stretched Niagara’s winning streak to three games…

Canisius coach Jim Baron

Jim Baron said he knew his team’s “mindset was gonna be fragile” coming into the game. I asked him what he meant by that since Canisius entered the night on a three-game winning streak.

“We were picked 10th,” he said, referencing the MAAC’s preseason poll.

Well you’re fifth right now, I said.

“We got two guys, two starters out, so we’ve been very fortunate to win those games the way we won,” Baron countered.

Translation: Everything Canisius needed to go right went right in those wins. The Griffs are toast from here on out if they don’t have their A-game.

Canisius’ Jeremiah Williams and Josiah Heath

Tuesday was the final Niagara game for Canisius seniors Josiah Heath and Jeremiah Williams, barring something wild in the conference tournament.

“Really wanted that one,” Williams said. “Really did.”

“Disappointed,” Heath added. “We got outplayed. That’s what happens.”

Niagara’s Chris Casey, Ramone Snowden, Emile Blackman

“You saw the togetherness in that run, and that’s the way they are every day,” NU coach Chris Casey said of his team’s blistering start to the second half.

Blackman was humble about his big alley-oop: “It was a great play call, great screen by Ramone. I told him it was his basket. I got the points but it wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t set it.”

Gameday: Canisius at Niagara – 12/6/14

Griffs at Purple Eagles, Gallagher Center, 3 p.m.

By Nick Veronica

Canisius Golden Griffins: 3-3 overall, 1-0 MAAC, 2-2 road. RPI: 135. KenPom: 172. Streak: W1.

Niagara Purple Eagles: 1-4 overall, 1-0 MAAC, 0-2 home. RPI: 226. KenPom: 268. Streak: L3.

Vegas Line: Open: Canisius -2. Current: Canisius -1.5.

What’s at stake: Never thought we’d be saying this, but MAAC supremacy is on the line today … however short-lived it may be. Both Canisius and Niagara are 1-0 in the conference after opening wins against Saint Peter’s.

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Series history: This is the 175th meeting between the teams if you believe Canisius, or the 177th meeting if you believe Niagara (more on that here). What we know for sure is that Canisius has taken three straight from Niagara, meaning second-year NU coach Chris Casey has yet to beat his rival. In the most recent game between the schools on Feb. 25, Billy Baron took control in the second half and finished with 34 points to lead Canisius to a 71-65 victory.

What’s been working for the Griffs: Not a ton has been going right for Canisius on offense. The team averages under 60 points per game and makes just 35.4 percent of its shots, which ranks 342nd nationally. All-MAAC Rookie Team selection Zach Lewis hasn’t been able to find his groove yet and is shooting just .299 from the floor and .273 from three-point range. He leads the Griffs at 13.3 points per game by the volume of shots he has put up.

Forward Phil Valenti has been more productive, averaging 10.3 points a night on .490 shooting, including 7 of 14 from behind the arc. He also leads the team at 6.2 rebounds per game.

What’s been working for the Purple Eagles: See: Canisius. Niagara’s offense shoots a nearly identical 35.3 percent from the field and averages only 56.8 points per game. Offense has been hard to come by, though two of Niagara’s five games were against Pitt and St. John’s.

What Niagara can say is that it’s at least getting scoring from several sources, with four players averaging better than nine points per game — Emile Blackman (12.6), Ramone Snowden (10.8), Rayvon Harris (9.8) and Karonn Davis (9.2). Where they’ll get scoring from on a given night is anyone’s guess, but today I’d look for Snowden, who’s played in rivalry games before, and Blackman, who’s coming off a 21-point performance at St. John’s.

Bold prediction: Both teams will do something they haven’t done all season: score 65 points.

Court dedication: Niagara will rename its court for Frank and Barbara Layden prior to the game. Frank played for ‘Taps’ Gallahger (whom the Gallagher Center is named after) and later coached during the Calvin Murphy years before going on to the NBA. Murphy and Hubie Brown will be on hand for a panel discussion at the Castellani Art Museum across the street from the Gallagher Center at 11 a.m. and will more than likely attend the game.

Odd stats: Canisius is 3-1 this season when trailing at halftime. … Snowden has two double-doubles this season. Canisius’ entire roster has two double-doubles in all of their careers. … Niagara has made the fewest baskets in the country for any team that has played five or more games. … A loss would be the 400th of Jim Baron’s career.

How to follow the game: Go to it / Watch on ESPN3 / Follow along on Twitter. Remember, tip is at 3 p.m., not 7.