Beginning Monday, June 21st,
2004 CHN began unveiling 144 Team previews in 144 Days. CHN ranked the
nations top 144 teams, and is unveiling one per day leading up until the
opening day of the 2004-05 Season.
144 Teams in 144 Days home page, and check back
each day to see which team is previewed next.
Niagara Purple Eagles
2003-04: 22-10, 13-5, 2nd
2003-04 postseason: NIT
By Joel Welser
The Purple Eagles were one point away from beating Manhattan in the Metro
Atlantic conference tournament final. Instead they had to settle for an NIT
berth where they beat Troy State and caused trouble for Nebraska before
losing to the Cornhuskers. They return three starters and five players who
saw minutes in every game. Add a solid recruiting class and Niagara is
looking to come out on top of the Metro Atlantic this year.
Who’s Out: Tremmell Darden scored 18 points and grabbed 5.4 rebounds per
game. The 6-4 shooting guard also dished out three assists per outing.
James Reaves was a monster on the boards averaging 9.6 rebounds per
contest. The 6-8 forward had double digit boards in eight of the team’s
last nine games. Reaves was no slouch on the scoring end of things either,
averaging 11.6 points and 14 double-doubles. Little used Luis Villafane and
Paul de Wet have also run out of eligibility.
Who’s In: Center Hensley Charles will be asked to help replace James
Reaves. Charles averaged 14 points and 13 rebounds his senior year in high
school. His rebounding prowess will fill an immediate need for Joe
Mihalich’s squad. Small forward Charron Fisher is a talented scorer and a
match-up nightmare. At 6-4, he’s too big and strong to be covered by most
Metro Atlantic guards and he’s too quick for the bigger forwards. Combo
guard Stanley Hodge should see some minutes this year for the Purple
Eagles. He is a pure shooter from anywhere on the floor and makes things
happen. Also joining Niagara this year is Ryan Brimley, who sat out last
season after transferring from James Madison.
Who to Watch: Juan Mendez is the key for the Purple Eagles. Last year, as a
junior, he averaged 20.5 points and 8.8 rebounds. There’s not much room for
those numbers to improve but for his senior campaign, Mendez will be ready
to take his team to the NCAAs. In Niagara’s 32 games, Mendez only scored
under double-digits twice; however, Niagara still managed to win both of
those games. The 6-8, 240 pound forward scored over 20 points in half of
those 32 games. He can rebound with the best of them as well, hitting
double digits 11 times.
Projected Conference Rank: With the senior trio of Mendez, David Brooks and
Alvin Cruz on the floor, Niagara shouldn’t have many problems winning the
Metro Atlantic. This is the year that it needs to happen for the Purple
Eagles and they should be able to achieve 1st place despite the best efforts
from Manhattan, Fairfield and the rest of the conference.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
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