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Niagara at Siena: Preview

By M. Anthony Dennis
January 3, 2016, Troy, NY  The Niagara University Purple Eagles travel to Albany to face the Siena Saints in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference contest. Niagara enters with a record of 3-10 in head coach Chris Casey’s third season. Casey replaced longtime coach Joe Mihalich, who left for Hofstra University in 2013 after 15 seasons at Niagara. The Saints defeated Hofstra 81-68 on December 9 in a non-conference game. The Purple Eagles are led by a pair of 6’4’ guards; sophomore Matt Scott and junior Emile Blackman. Scott averages 15.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, while Blackman adds 15.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Niagara is known as the “Cradle of Coaches.” Larry Costello, Hubie Brown and Frank Layden all played for the Purple Eagles between 1950 and 1955. Layden also coached his alma mater from 1969 to 1975. Costello was a 6 time NBA All Star as a player, winning a title in 1967 with the Philadelphia 76ers. Costello was the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks as they won their only title in 1971. Hubie Brown was named NBA Coach of the Year twice, once with the New York Knicks. Layden won the NBA Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year in the same season of 1983-’84.

Calvin Murphy is the career leader in points scored at 2548 in 3 seasons from 1967-’70. Murphy averaged 33.1 points per game for his collegiate career. Murphy played 13 seasons in the NBA and was named an All Star in 1979. Murphy holds the distinction of being the shortest player at 5’9” to appear in an All Star game. He was named to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1993.

Siena has a record of 8-5. The Saints lost a non-conference game at Vermont, 73-64. The Saints were without leading scorer Marquis Wright. Wright, a junior guard averaging 17.3 points per game is out indefinitely with a stress fracture. Wright suffered a foot injury in practice on Saturday, December 26. Freshman guard Nico Clareth replaced Wright in the starting lineup but struggled going 1-10 from the field and 0-3 from three. Senior guard Ryan Oliver contributed 10 points from off the bench as starting forwards Brett Bisping and Lavon Long combined to shoot 8-29 from the field as Siena shot 34.8% for the game.

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