Niagara Gazette

Sports

November 9, 2013

New-look Niagara aims to replicate last season's success

New-look Niagara aims to replicate last season's success despite loss of key players and coach

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Casey said his game emphasizes pushing the tempo, something Mihalich did with a guard-heavy roster last season. It’s a system Mason and Jordan are familiar with, and one they say will allow them to be free to create offensively.

“Having the freedom to just come down and play basketball is always good,” Jordan said. “Getting up and down is key for the types of guys we have and the type of basketball we want to play.”

With Green running point, Mason and Jordan spent most of last season playing off the ball. Mason said he trained with his father — former NBA All-Star Anthony Mason — on his off-ball play over the summer, but added that he expects to have the ball in his hands more this year as his young teammates adjust to the Division I game.

The biggest scheme changes will come on defense, where Casey prefers a man-to-man concept as opposed to Mihalich’s zone. Casey said his system is designed to pressure opposing ball handlers into making quick decisions.

“We want to try to speed you up, to see if we can get you going faster than you want to go,” he said. “We want to guard you, and we want to rebound, but we also want to get up and down the floor.”

While Casey wouldn’t commit to a starting lineup for tonight’s opener, he gave clues with his player usage in exhibition games against Roberts Wesleyan and Buffalo State, which Niagara won 82-44 and 96-71. Jordan and Mason — both team captains — started against Buff State, along with redshirt freshman transfer point guard Cameron Fowler, true freshman Ramone Snowden and senior transfer Marcus Ware.

Fowler transferred from Iowa State and could start at point guard. Snowden is a 6-foot-5 swingman who averaged 22 points per game at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, Va., while Ware is a 6-foot-8 forward who came over from Monmouth.

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