The Niagara Purple Eagles got a bit of good news Thursday when it was ruled starting forward Dwayne Daniel will return to active duty.
Daniel missed the first 2 1/2 weeks of school due to a case of tonsillitis, and Niagara coach Jack Armstrong decided to hold himCOLLEGE NOTEBOOKout for the first semester to make sure he kept his grades up and remained eligible.
The 6-foot-6 sophomore, who averaged 9.5 points per game last year, did so and will be available when Niagara meets unbeaten St. Peter's (5-0) in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Meadowlands Arena.
Niagara will need him.
Armstrong also revealed that two other players are out for the year as medical red-shirts.
Sophomore Mike Hartman, a reserve guard, has a disc problem and must avoid physical activity for three months. Freshman Scott Ramey, who started the first two games, has a broken bone in his foot and is out at least six weeks. Both players figured to average at least 10-15 minutes a game this year, and their absence hurts Niagara's backcourt depth. A little more playing time for freshmen Reggie Moore and David Bertram probably will result.
Niagara now has 11 healthy players heading into a brutal stretch of six road games.
After St. Peter's, the Eagles have conference games against Siena, Iona and La Salle and non-conference games against better-than-average foes, Robert Morris and Northeastern.
"The toughest thing about this is not only are the next six on the road, but four are MAAC games and they're against the four top teams in the league," Armstrong said.
The St. Peter's game is the second game of a double-header that starts with Rutgers vs. Seton Hall.
Niagara will play at Seton Hall on Feb. 19. It's a one-game contract between the schools. Seton Hall will not return to Niagara. As part of the deal, Seton Hall offered to let Niagara play its game with St. Peter's at the Meadowlands.
"From a recruiting standpoint, it's a major plus for us to be able to play there," Niagara coach Jack Armstrong said. "Playing in the New York City area at that building before a big crowd adds credibility to us for recruiting in the area."
Bengals face tough test
Buffalo State will have to be at its best to avoid falling to .500 this weekend.
The Bengals (3-2) meet Malone in the first round of the Heidelberg Tournament in Tiffin, Ohio, at 6 tonight. Malone (8-3), of Canton, Ohio, is ranked 16th in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Last year, Malone was 25-9. Heidelberg and Olivet meet in the other first-round game.
Once again, Buffalo State has more road games than home games this year. The Bengals are home for 10 and away for 14. For the most part, Division III private colleges in the state are unwilling to come to Buffalo for a difficult meeting with the Bengals. The top private schools, like Nazareth and national champion Rochester, are not in a league that has an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Thus, getting to the 20-win mark is key for those schools if they want to make the NCAAs.
Potsdam faces a similar predicament. Not many teams want to go up north and get beaten by the Bears.
The UB wrestling team is ranked 15th in the nation in Division II. Two returning UB All-Americas are ranked fourth in the nation in their weight classes, Bill Stanbro (167) and Dave Grabbenstatter (177). . . . The Niagara County Community College wrestling team is ranked No. 7 among junior colleges.
The St. Bonaventure women's swim team has qualified relay squads for the first time ever to the U.S. Senior National Championships, to be held in Seattle in April. The 400 medley relay team of Jeanne Kellachan, Jaci Wieland (Elma), Brandy Nettles and Beckie Okoniewski (Depew) made the cut with a time of 3:59.56. The 400 free relay team of Nettles, Kellachan, Okoniewski and Angela Washburn made it with a time of 3:35.16. All are freshmen except for Wieland, a senior.
St. Bona women's basketball player Jodi Urich ranks fourth in the Atlantic 10 in field goal percentage at 59.6 percent. Bona's Beth Gromlowicz is fifth at 53.4 percent. The Lady Bonnies are 4-2. . . . Niagara's Kim Kuhn is ranked third in the nation in Division I in field-goal percentage. The sophomore has hit 24 of 25 from the line (.960). Niagara is 4-2.
Buffalo State kick returner Bill Nashwinter finished ranked fourth in the nation in Division III in kickoff returns with a 32.3-yard average. . . . UB wideout Chaz Ahmed finished 10th in receiving yards per game (92.7) and 16th in catches per game (5.9).