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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.


Bookmark the 144 Teams in 144 Days home page, and check back each day to see which team is previewed next.


#85 Niagara Purple Eagles
Metro Atlantic
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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Email Joel Welser: jwelser_chn@ameritech.net

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