Niagara taps Chris Casey as head coach

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Casey from Long Island University Post takes over for a Niagara Purple Eagles squad that returns all of its starters and is a favorite to win the MAAC.

The Niagara Purple Eagles ended their coaching search with Chris Casey at the helm, the Buffalo News reported on Monday.

It was a short vacancy for the Purple Eagles, who watched coach Joe Mihalich depart for the Hofstra Pride on April 10.

Casey comes from the Long Island University Post Pioneers, where he took the team to the Division II NCAA Tournaments the past two years. He was named the Eastern Conference coach of the year in 2012 and was 62-25 over the previous two seasons.

Mihalich leaves some big shoes for the new coach to fill. He has spent the past 15 years at Niagara, leading them to the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and 2007. The 2005 appearance was the first for Niagara since 1970. He also has more wins than any coach in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference history. Mihalich is the second-winningest coach in school history with a .556 winning percentage and 265 wins. He trails Taps Gallagher, who coached from 1931-1943 and 1946-1965, who holds the record for most wins at the school with 465.

Casey inherits a Niagara team that enters the next year with high expectations. The Purple Eagles finished on top of the MAAC, but fell to the Iona Gaels in their conference tournament. They were invited to the 2013 NIT Tournament and lost in the first round against the Maryland Terrapins. The Purple Eagles only lose two players and return all of their starters after being the youngest team in the MAAC last season.

The MAAC has tapped LIU Post as of late, with Casey becoming the second coach to make the jump from the school into the conference. Casey replaced Tim Cluess in 2010 at LIU Post. Cluess has led the Iona Gaels to the NCAA Tournament the past two years.

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