Niagara Men's Basketball 2013 NIT Tournament Capsule

Niagara Purple Eagles
MAAC (19-13, 13-5)


Niagara has had quite the season.  After a slow start, the Purple Eagles bounced back to secure an 18-12 record and conference title.  They went 11-4 in their last 15 games.  Not many teams are on that kind of streak going into their conference tournaments.  It is a far cry from where they were last season.  They had a losing record and only eight wins in the conference.  They have a couple of stud scorers in Antoine Mason and Juan’Ya Green.  The turnaround is a credit to Joe Mihalich.  In his 15th season, he still has what it takes to bring this team from the doldrums to the apex.  

Big Wins: 11/18 New Mexico State (86-83), 12/5 at Loyola (MD) (62-61), 2/23 Northwestern State (92-76)
Bad Losses: 1/08 at Brown (74-75), 2/10 Canisius (70-77), 2/28 Rider (59-68)
Coach: Joe Mihalich (15 seasons at Niagara)

Why They Can Surprise:
Niagara can score a bunch of points.  That is where they are strongest.  At 74 points per game, they are a top 40 scoring team in the country.  They have two of the top three scorers in the MAAC.  Mason and Green each average over 17 points per game.  That is top-100 status for both.  As a team, they share the ball with each other and find the open man.  They were second in the conference in assists this season.  They are very protective of offensive possessions.  They rank tenth nationally in turnover margin.  They steal the ball more than anyone else in the conference.  Eight per game is a really solid number.  At just under 12 total turnovers per game, Niagara sets themselves up for quality possessions as well.  They are a deep roster.  Mihalich goes four off the bench.  The subs average over 13 minutes per game.

Why They Can Disappoint:
Niagara’s defense is what will be their Achilles’ heel if it comes to that.  Opponents score about 72 points per game, which comes in just under their total.  Niagara has found themselves in some squeaker wins this year.  They have also lost five games by five points or less.  A close game is a toss-up for Niagara.  They would like to put someone away down the stretch if possible.  They are susceptible to giving up open shots to strong outside shooters.  Opponents shot over 35 percent from outside the arc this season.  The Eagles are not a particularly big team and it hurts them on the glass.  They constantly lose rebound battles and they hardly get their hands on the ball with shooters in the lane.  Big, strong interior teams would be a matchup problem for the Eagles.  

Probable Starters:
Juan’ya Green, Sophomore, Guard, 16.8 ppg, 5.0 apg, 4.1 rpg
Tahjere McCall, Freshman, Guard, 4.0 ppg, 2.5 apg
Antoine Mason, Sophomore, Guard, 18.5 ppg, 1.5 apg, 4.1 rpg
Ameen Tanksley, Sophomore, Guard, 11.1 ppg, 1.2 apg, 5.9 rpg
Devon White, Senior, Center, 5.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Marvin Jordan, Junior, Guard, 8.4 ppg, 1.5 apg
Malcolm Lemmons, Junior, Guard, 3.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Joseph Thomas, Junior, Forward, 2.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg
T.J. Cline, Freshman, Forward, 7.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.9 (35th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.7 (292, 9)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.5 (217, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 44.9 (269, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.3 (69, 3)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.7 (220, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.8 (192, 3)
Rebound Margin: -1.6 (242, 8)
Assists Per Game: 13.0 (151, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.5 (41, 1)

Last Five Postseason Appearances:
2009    NIT        First Round loss to Rhode Island
2007    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Kansas
2005    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Oklahoma
2004    NIT        Opening Round win over Troy
2004    NIT        First Round loss to Nebraska
1993    NIT        First Round loss to Boston College

*all team stats through 3/10


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