Niagara University Director of Athletics Simon Gray announced that men’s basketball head coach Chris Casey’s contract has been extended through the 2021-22 season.
“Entering his sixth season as head coach, Chris Casey’s passion and commitment to Niagara University and the Western New York region is stronger than ever,” Gray said. “Chris is a man of integrity who directs his program in the mission of our institution. Our teams have progressed during his tenure and last year’s success thrilled Purple Eagles everywhere. We expect that Niagara Basketball will remain a source of pride for years to come.”
The Purple Eagles have increased their wins total in the each of the last three seasons, including a 19-win campaign last season which included an invitation to play in the 10th CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT). It marked Niagara’s first postseason appearance since the 2013 National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
Niagara’s 19 overall wins, 12 MAAC wins, and nine home wins during the 2017-18 season were the most in five seasons. The Purple Eagles’ 10 road victories led the MAAC and tied a school record in the modern-era set in the 2008-09 season.
The Purple Eagles led the MAAC in points per game (83.3), total blocks (145), blocks per game (4.4), total rebounds (1,286), free throws made (588), fewest turnovers (373) and in fewest turnovers per game (11.3). The 2017-18 Purple Eagles scored a program record 2,748 points and defeated two Big 4 teams (St. Bonaventure, Canisius) in the same season for the first time since 2010-11. Niagara’s 9-win improvement from the 2016-17 season was tied for 12th out of 353 NCAA Division I programs.
Niagara had several individual standouts throughout the 2017-18 season. The duo of Kahlil Dukes (AP Honorable Mention, MAAC Co-Player of the Year, All-MAAC First Team, NABC All-District I First Team), and Matt Scott (NABC All-District I First Team, All-MAAC Second Team) received numerous accolades and set program records, and fellow tri-captain Marvin Prochet led the MAAC in double-doubles (nine) and in rebounds per game (7.9). Dukes (Russia) and Scott (Germany) are both currently playing professional basketball, adding to the list of Purple Eagles who played for Coach Casey at Niagara and went on to professional basketball careers.
Academically, the program earned a 1,000 Academic Progress Rate (APR) for the 2016-17 season.
“My family, staff and I are very excited to continue our time here at Niagara University,” Casey said. “We look forward to building upon the work and success we had last season, as we pursue a MAAC Championship. Thank you to Father Maher, Simon Gray, and Niagara University for their continued support.”
The men’s basketball program has been extremely active in community service initiatives during Casey’s tenure. The team makes annual visits to the Community Missions of Niagara Frontier and has made numerous trips to the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club where it held clinics and have visited patients at the Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. The Purple Eagles have also volunteered at the Magdalene Project at St. George’s Church in Niagara Falls, New York. During Niagara’s tour of Costa Rica in August 2018, the team held a clinic for the Olimpiadas Especial (Special Olympics) San Jose chapter.
The Purple Eagles will host Mercyhurst in an exhibition on Monday, November 5 at 7 p.m. before officially opening the season hosting Little 3 rival St. Bonaventure on Monday, November 12 at 7 p.m.