College Basketball Nation: Niagara Purple Eagles

Video: Jay Bilas' weekly report

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13

In his weekly report, Jay Bilas takes a look at some of the best performances in the last week of college basketball, as well as the current state of the race for the Wooden Award.
1. Creighton's Doug McDermott is nowhere near close to making a decision on whether to declare for the NBA or return to the Bluejays, his father and coach Greg McDermott said. Greg McDermott said Doug will take this call down to the NBA's April 28 deadline -- the only one that really matters. Doug McDermott isn't feeling any pressure about the April 16 NCAA deadline -- and that's good, because that one means nothing. The NCAA doesn't put out a list on that date and neither does the NBA. The only deadline that produces an early-entry list is the April 28 deadline. A player could say he's returning to school next week and then declare 12 days later without any issue. Doug McDermott has one of the toughest decisions of any player, because if he decides to leave his dad will face a difficult season in the Bluejays' first season in the new Big East. If Doug stays, Creighton has a chance to contend for the new league's title.

2. New Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich said Wednesday that the timing was right and he just had a feeling that he needed to move after 15 years at Niagara. Mihalich is trading one set of problems for another. Niagara, north of Buffalo, N.Y., isn't exactly in fertile recruiting territory, but Mihalich has made it work and competed for league titles in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Hofstra, on Long Island, is in a fertile recruiting area but is in rebuilding mode. The MAAC and the Colonial Athletic Association are typically one-bid leagues at this juncture. Mihalich has had other opportunities to leave but chose to stay. He said every time he considers one, the same two questions come to mind: Who is the president and who is the athletic director? Mihalich felt comfortable with current AD Jeff Hathaway, who previously held the same position at Connecticut, and president Stuart Rabinovitz. Hathaway wanted a sitting head coach and stayed true to his goal in the search.

3. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin praised the "mature decision" by junior Sean Kilpatrick to return for his senior season. Cronin is convinced Kilpatrick will work on his game enough to be a draft pick next year. Kilpatrick will have a new backcourt mate with Cashmere Wright gone; those in the running to replace Wright will include freshmen Kevin Johnson and Troy Caupain and junior Ge'Lawn Guyn.

Saturday's conference-clinching scenarios

March, 2, 2013
Here are the scenarios today for teams that have a chance to clinch their regular-season conference title outright. For conferences with two divisions, we use the terminology “will clinch best record” instead of “will clinch conference outright.”

Akron: Will clinch best record in MAC with win at Buffalo and Ohio loss at Bowling Green
Belmont: Will clinch best record in Ohio Valley with win vs. Jacksonville State or Eastern Kentucky loss at Tennessee State
Charleston Southern: Will clinch best record in Big South South Division with win vs. Coastal Carolina
High Point: Will clinch best record in Big South North division with win vs. Campbell
Long Beach State: Will clinch Big West outright with win at UC Irvine or Pacific loss at UC Riverside
Louisiana Tech: Will clinch WAC outright with win vs. San Jose State and Denver loss vs. New Mexico State
Memphis: Will clinch Conference USA outright with win at UCF or Southern Miss loss vs. East Carolina
Mercer: Will clinch Atlantic Sun outright with win at Stetson or Florida Gulf Coast loss vs. Kennesaw State
Miami: Will clinch ACC outright with win at Duke
New Mexico: Will clinch Mountain West outright with win vs. Wyoming and Colorado State loss at Boise State
Niagara: Will clinch MAAC outright with win vs. St. Peter's
South Dakota State: Will clinch Summit League outright with Western Illinois loss vs. South Dakota
Texas Southern: Will clinch SWAC outright with win vs. Alcorn State
Valparaiso: Will clinch Horizon League outright with win at Green Bay or Detroit loss at Illinois-Chicago
Wichita State at Creighton: Winner clinches Missouri Valley outright

BracketBusters matchups, TV schedule

February, 4, 2013
The matchups for the final BracketBusters event aired on ESPNU tonight. See below for the television schedule and click here for Andy Katz's analysis and a wide range of insight from the head coaches involved.

Friday, Feb. 22

North Dakota State at Akron, ESPN2, 7 ET

Stephen F. Austin at Long Beach State, ESPNU, 9 ET

Saturday, Feb. 23

Iona at Indiana State, ESPNU, 11 a.m. ET

Eastern Kentucky at Valparaiso, ESPNU, 1 ET

Canisius at Vermont, ESPN3, 1 ET

Pacific at Western Michigan, ESPN3, 2 ET

Montana at Davidson, ESPNU, 3 ET

Northwestern State at Niagara, ESPN3, 3 ET

Detroit at Wichita State, ESPN/2, 4 ET

Creighton at Saint Mary's, ESPN/2, 6 ET

South Dakota State at Murray State, ESPN2, 8 ET

Denver at Northern Iowa, ESPN3, 8 ET

Ohio at Belmont, ESPN2, 10 ET

The matchups for the BracketBusters games not on television can be found here.'s MAAC preview

October, 15, 2012
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, here is Eamonn Brennan's one-minute wind sprint through the league:

Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all 10 teams in the MAAC:

Niagara InsiderFree
St. Peter's
Siena's MAAC preview

October, 24, 2011
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, here is Eamonn Brennan's one-minute wind sprint through the league:

Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all 10 teams in the MAAC:

Niagara InsiderFree
St. Peter's

More MAAC content:

The numbers you need to know

February, 14, 2011
An inside look at the numbers behind Sunday’s top performances:

1. Connecticut beat Providence 75-57, avoiding a third straight home loss. Kemba Walker shot 7-for-10 on his way to 22 points. He shot below 40 percent in each of his previous seven games. But the big story was Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, who came off the bench for a career-high 25 points. That’s more points than he’d scored in his previous six games combined, and just his second double-figure scoring game this season. The last UConn player to score 25 off the bench was Rashad Anderson in 2006 against Marquette.

2. Wake Forest fell to 1-9 in the ACC with an 80-55 loss to NC State. The 25-point margin marks the biggest loss at home by the Deacons since losing by 28 to North Carolina in 2007. While NC State was unranked, that Tar Heels team was No. 4 in the nation at the time. Over the past 15 years, Wake Forest has lost by 20 or more at home to an unranked team only twice -- the other coming earlier this season against VCU. That doesn’t even include a 19-point loss to Maryland in January. With the loss, Wake fell to 7-9 in Winston-Salem. Over the previous 10 seasons, it boasted a 134-25 home record.

3. Malcolm Delaney’s season-high 33 points led Virginia Tech to a 102-77 win over Georgia Tech. He added five assists and six rebounds to record the first 30-5-5 game in ACC play this season. The Hokies starting lineup shot 62.5 percent from the field, scoring 97 of the team’s 102 points. That’s the most points by an ACC starting lineup since the Hokies starters poured in 112 in a double-OT win over Duquesne in 2009. This has become the trend for a Hokies roster decimated by injuries. Virginia Tech’s bench was shut out in its previous game, a loss to Boston College. Over the past five games, the Hokies’ bench is putting up just 5.0 points per game.

4. With the Arizona State defense collapsing on Derrick Williams, another Wildcat stepped up in Arizona’s 67-52 win. Kyle Fogg emerged with 26 points, matching a career-high. He went 6-for-9 from 3-point range, after hitting only 1-for-7 in his last contest. In fact, Fogg’s six 3s equaled his total in his previous eight games combined. The rest of the Arizona starters shot just 30.8 percent from the field, as Lamont Jones and Solomon Hill combined to go 0-for-10. The Wildcats have won six straight in Pac-10 play for the first time since 2009. However, they followed that streak with four straight losses.

5. Niagara went 0-for-17 from 3-point range in a 61-50 loss at Rider. It’s the second worst 3-point performance in D-I this season, behind an 0-for-18 effort by Ohio against Kansas. The Purple Eagles shot just 25.4 percent on Sunday, despite a strong effort from Kashief Edwards (21 points, 15 rebounds). In fact, apart from Edwards, the team shot just 15.2 percent. This is not exactly out of the ordinary for Niagara. On the season, it is shooting 27.8 percent, third-worst in the nation.

The numbers you need to know

January, 10, 2011
An inside look at the numbers behind Sunday's top performances:

1. Niagara’s Anthony Nelson was everywhere in the Purple Eagles’ 69-55 win against Siena. In addition to scoring 30 points, one shy of his career-high, the 6-1 guard hauled in 10 rebounds. But Nelson's career-high eight steals made this night particularly significant. Prior to Sunday, the most steals in a 30-point, 10-rebound game this season was just four. In fact, you have to go all the way back to Tennessee-Martin’s Lester Hudson in 2009 to find the last time a player had eight steals in a 30-10 game. In addition, Niagara won for just the second time in 13 games, as Siena fell to 2-6 on the road.

2. Bradley overcame a 23-point halftime deficit to trail by only two in the final 90 seconds, but it wasn’t quite enough as Northern Iowa won 83-77. This one was full of fun numbers, including a combined 45 of 50 free throws made. Northern Iowa got a career-high 34 points from Jake Koch, who was coming off a game against Indiana State in which he scored 3 points on 0-for-5 shooting. Meanwhile, Bradley’s Andrew Warren had an even more improbable career-high game, at least if you watched the first half. Warren went into halftime without a field goal and only two points. He then exploded for 28 of his 30 points in the second half.

3. On Sunday, no team connected on fewer field goals than Massachusetts’ 12. Yet, UMass still beat Dayton 55-50. The Minutemen finished 12-for-44 (27.3 percent) from the field, but won thanks to a 29-for-36 (80.6 percent) performance at the line. For one stretch, UMass went 13 minutes without a field goal. It’s the fewest field goals in a win this season, and fewest since William & Mary also won with 12 last season against Drexel. The Minutemen’s 27.3 field goal percentage was their fifth-lowest over the past 15 seasons, and their lowest in a win against that span. The last Atlantic 10 team to win while shooting worse was Temple, which beat Indiana in 2004 despite a 26.8 percentage.

4. Miami (Ohio) and Ohio faced each other for the 187th time on Sunday, but after three overtimes this one stands out from the rest. Miami won 92-88 despite making only four field goals and shooting 28.6 percent across the three overtimes. The Redhawks won courtesy of a 17-for-20 performance from the line during the extra frames. This one was of course filled with unique stat lines. Of the 130 shots taken during the game, only two were blocked. Julian Mavunga and Antonio Ballard both played the full 55 minutes, with Ballard putting up a career-high 26 points. Ohio’s Tommy Freeman came off the bench to play 46 minutes, the most by a D-I reserve this season. D.J. Cooper, the nation’s third-leading assist man, went off for 27 points and 11 assists.

5. Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger gets the headlines given that he leads all freshmen in scoring (17.9 ppg) and ranks second in rebounding (10.3 rpg). But how about his freshman teammate, Aaron Craft? His 5.1 apg ranks second among freshmen behind Dayton’s Juwan Staten. Yet, Craft has done this while coming off the bench in all but one game. Sunday was no exception, as Craft had 11 points and seven assists off the bench in the Buckeyes’ 67-64 win against Minnesota. In fact, Craft is the nation’s top assist man off the bench (among those with one start or fewer). Over the last 15 seasons, no one in Division I basketball has averaged more than five assists while starting no more than once.