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DON'T BLAME BONA FOR STAYING HOME

St. Bonaventure's decision to hold its Dec. 13 men's basketball game against the University at Buffalo in Olean instead of Marine Midland Arena makes dollars and good sense.

How can Bona turn its back on the $30,000-plus payday it expects to make when UB comes to the Reilly Center?

MMA's offer to move the game to Buffalo: $0.

A Bona-UB game would be a great local attraction, especially after last season's thriller won by the Bulls. But this is supposed to be a home game for the Bonnies, so why would they play it on the road?

Besides, no other Big 4 team has a better home-court advantage than Bona. The Reilly Center is usually packed and the vocal fan support helps create a great college basketball atmosphere.

Firm but fair

Niagara men's basketball coach Jack Armstrong wasted little time in suspending forward Jermaine Young and point guards Jeremiah Johnson and Calvin Murphy Jr. indefinitely for the bar room incident last weekend. His motives were obvious.

Armstrong needed to show he won't tolerate wrongdoing in his program. Moreover, college athletes are held to a higher standard than other students because their actions on and off the court are subject to public scrutiny.

"If they didn't know it then, they know now," Armstrong said. "They are good kids who used bad judgment, but I want them to understand that they must be more responsible. Hopefully, this will be a lesson to the other players and make them think twice before they act."

But why an indefinite suspension?

"I want them to feel what it's like to be left hanging out there," said Armstrong, who has received the support of the players' parents. "I told them when I'm ready to bring them back, I will. To be honest, I haven't even thought about when that will happen."

College basketball teams can begin official practices on Oct. 15, and Niagara opens the regular season Nov. 25.

Without those players, who make up the team's nucleus, the Purple Eagles have no chance of improving on last season's 11-17 record.

Same school, different sport

Most athletes would be happy with one college career. Jeff Muszynski is getting a shot at a second.

The St. Joe's graduate, who played basketball for Siena the past four seasons, is now a member of the Saints' football team. A 6-foot-5, 230-pound wide receiver, Muszynski has three catches for 57 yards. He contributed one reception for 10 yards in Siena's 41-38 win over Canisius last week.

The NCAA allows five-year scholarship athletes who have used up their eligibility in one sport to play another.

"Jeff has exceeded everyone's expectations," said Mike Hogan, sports information director at Siena. "It's too bad he didn't take up the sport sooner. Next to (All-America tailback) Reggie Greene, he's probably the best athlete on the team."

UB entering NFL farm system

If Ohio University's football team didn't do enough to convince you how good the Mid-American Conference is, consider too that the league is building a reputation for developing NFL-caliber players.

There are 26 MAC alums who began the season on NFL rosters. Ten of the conference's 12 teams are represented.

The most recognizable names are Pro Bowl strong safety Blaine Bishop (Ball State) of the Tennessee Oilers, veteran running back Bernie Parmalee (Ball State) of the Miami Dolphins and defensive tackle Andy Harmon (Kent) of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The veteran of the group is eighth-year defensive end Joel Smeenge (Western Michigan) of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He began his career with the New Orleans Saints.

Six rookies made the list, headed by Miami defensive end Jason Taylor (Akron) and Atlanta Falcons tight end O.J. Santiago (Kent). Only Ohio and Miami do not have any NFL players.

UB's football program, which joins the MAC in 1999, has one of its own in the pros. Offensive tackle Ed Ellis is a rookie with the New England Patriots.

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