HOOPY DAYS are here again.
You don't see many college basketball fans bragging "We're No. 264!" But how did the computer ratings in USA Today rate St. Bonaventure higher than Niagara after the Eagles beat Bona by 21 points last month?
Going into Niagara's 73-71 victory at Olean Tuesday, the electronic brain ranked Bona 264th of the 296 Division I teams while Niagara was a lowly 266th.
According to the computer, Bona should have beaten Niagara by five points Tuesday and Canisius (No. 148) should have lost to Syracuse (No. 10) by 23, instead of nine, on Wednesday. The machine picks Canisius to beat Bona by 15 in the Aud Saturday. That sounds quite conservative, even though Bona has won three straight against the Griffs.
Speaking of the Bottom 50, Bona beat No. 287 Morgan State and will host No. 278 Central Connecticut on Dec. 29. Canisius beat Brown (256) and Liberty (268).
Local fans may never see Liberty again. That's too bad. It would be nice to keep track of 6-foot-10 freshman Julius Nwosu.
Discovered by a Lutheran missionary in Owerri, Nigeria, Nwosu was given a sight-unseen scholarship by Liberty coach Jeff Meyer.
His Nov. 27 appearance in the Koessler Athletic Center, where he scored 16 points in a loss, was only his third game in the U.S.
The best foreign-born player around here is probably Canisius forward Nixon Dyall, who says, "I am the best player from Trinidad."
Put Dyall on a club with Griff teammates Harry Seymour (a native of Freeport, Grand Bahamas) and Sean Sandel (Fort Erie, Ont.), Bona's Tobias Hauff (Stockholm, Sweden) and Pieter Hemalaer (Breda, Holland) and you'd have a nice All-Local/Foreign team.
They could play an All-Local/Local team of Canisius' Ed Book (McKinley High), Niagara's trio of Darrin Bossert (Kenmore West), Darren Brown (Williamsville North) and E-Lon-E McCracken (LaSalle) plus Buffalo State's Nate Gainey (Buffalo Traditional).
If you haven't seen Buffalo State play, don't let that Division III tag fool you. The runnin' Bengals -- led by Gainey, Shane Johnson (Bennett) and Jason Slaughter (Traditional) -- are fun to watch, even though they aren't home again until Jan. 12 after a three-tournament road trip.
Could University at Buffalo guard Ricky Coleman be the area's most exciting player? The 6-2 senior passed the 1,000-point mark against Mercyhurst last Saturday. His 30 points against Indiana (Pa.) Tuesday was a point shy of Wayne Jones' Alumni Arena record. If he stays hot and healthy, Coleman could threaten Sam Pellom as UB's second-highest scorer ever. Pellom canned 1,403 points from 1974 to '78.
UB's record is Jim Horne's 1,833 points in a four-year career than ended in 1955. Horne is described as "UB's greatest basketball player."
Niagara coach Jack Armstrong said his team's 101-64 loss to Bobby Knight's Indiana squad last week had a bright side since it gave the team experience before one of the toughest crowds in the sport. Armstrong said no other place can be "as tough as playing in Assembly Hall in front of 18,000 loonies in red sweaters with 'The General' at the end."
You don't see too many 6-foot-11 centers scoring from outside. So it's always a surprise when Niagara center Sean Schiano puts up a three-pointer. In seven games, the bald giant has hit four of 10 triples and has the highest three-point shooting percentage on the team.