Niagara men's basketball's calling card is its offense, and for good reason.
The Purple Eagles are ranked first in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in scoring, averaging 83.1 points per game. Matt Scott and Kahlil Dukes get the spotlight, as both are averaging over 20 points a game and in the top three in the league in scoring.
The offense is certainly king, but the work scrappy forward Marvin Prochet has done on the boards has also been vital to Niagara's success. He showed his value in the Purple Eagles' 72-63 victory against Manhattan at the Gallagher Center Wednesday, totaling nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and a block.
"He does what's necessary to win the game," Niagara coach Chris Casey said. "We lean on him heavily. I don't want to use the term overlooked because he's definitely appreciated within this program, but I think when you speak about this team I don't think he's mentioned enough."
Prochet is first in the MAAC in rebounding, averaging 8.1 boards a game this season. He's found an offensive touch as well, averaging nine points per game and surpassing 20 points against Rider and Siena.
Casey said he's improved in nearly every aspect of his game.
"He's rebounding at a higher level than he's ever been," Casey said. "He's defending at a higher level. His leadership has improved immensely. ... He's shooting better from three. He's developing. We talked this summer about taking his game up another notch, another level. He's worked hard to get that and he's getting paid back for that work."
Prochet said he spent most of the summer at Niagara working on the court with point guard Kahlil Dukes.
"I'm an inconsistent player, and I know that," Prochet said. "So, every day when we were working we were shooting a lot, rips and drives. ... Dukes was putting me through his little drills, trying to show every part of my game."
Prochet had a quiet start to Wednesday's outing, missing his first three shots and taking an early foul. He was benched, but when he returned he had new life. He went on a personal 5-0 run midway through the first half with a fadeaway mid-range shot and a 3-pointer from the right wing. Then, the rebounds started to come.
"When I got subbed back into the game, they told me, 'Keep being aggressive,'" Prochet said. "You're not always going to start hot. I just try to keep myself in the game. ... I work on my game every day, so at some point, it will come."
Scott scored 21 points, his fifth 20-or-better performance in seven career games against the Jaspers.
"They came to a couple of my high school games, but they were one of the coaches that was like, 'I had to get stronger, or I had to go to JUCO, I had to prep a year,'" Scott said. "I keep that in the back of my mind when I play them."
Manhattan got as close as five points down the stretch, but Niagara didn't flinch. Prochet and James Towns hit free throws, Dukes made a three and Scott and Dominic Robb each completed a layup to seal the victory. The Purple Eagles are 13-9 overall, 6-3 in conference play heading into Saturday's game at Canisius, which sits at 7-1.
"Canisius is going to be a great atmosphere," Casey said. "I just think we have a poise and a calmness and maturity about us. What we did today in terms of staying together and making solid plays, we've done that before. I expect we'll do that on Saturday."