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JOBITY WATCHES WHILE EAGLES SOAR

As the clock wound down to zero, Kevin Jobity offered congratulations to his Niagara basketball teammates after another win. He may have been smiling, but it didn't hide the disappointment on his face.

Jobity is missing out on Niagara's surprising 7-1 start in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference because of a torn pectoral muscle. He had surgery last month and is expected to miss the rest of the season.

"I didn't think the injury was that severe at first," said the 6-foot-10 senior center, who was hurt while lifting weights. "But the next morning, I really felt it. I woke up the next morning and I could barely move my arm.

"When the doctor told me I was out for the season, it really shocked me. I worked so hard to make this season a great one."

Jobity's season was shaping up to be just that. He was shooting 50.6 percent while averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds in the first seven games.

The Purple Eagles have been vulnerable inside without their big man, but that weakness has been negated somewhat by the uptempo style coach Joe Mihalich has employed.

Niagara is definitely in the hunt for the MAAC title, and will be a threat to win the tournament at Marine Midland Arena next month. Imagine how good this team would be with Jobity in uniform.

"Believe me, that thought has occurred to us," senior guard Alvin Young said. "He gave us the size and talent inside that helped us to be more balanced. I go crazy if I miss a practice, so I know it has to be hard on him not to be a part of this."

Jobity is a already a month into rehab, but it's unlikely he can return in time for the MAAC Tournament. He wants a sixth year of eligibility; Niagara has filed an appeal to the NCAA for a medical redshirt.

It is extremely rare for the NCAA to grant such a request unless a player has missed two years with a major injury. Jobity's first redshirt year, when he was a freshman, was not injury-related.

Still, Jobity remains optimistic.

"There's some six-year players out there, so I feel I should be one of them under the circumstances," he said. "It's unfortunate for this to happen to me this year, of all years."

Simonian found a home

Former Canisius High star Pete Simonian, whose nomadic football career took him to three schools in five years, was named a co-recipient of the Demale Stanley Award for courage at the University of Pittsburgh's postseason banquet. The award is named after the former Pitt player who was paralyzed during practice several years ago.

Simonian, a 6-2, 260-pound defensive end, made quite an impression on his coaches and teammates in just one year with the Panthers; he overcame knee and neck injuries that sidelined him for four games to become a key member of the defense. He finished with 25 tackles (14 solo) and five quarterback sacks.

His best performance was a nine-tackle, two-sack effort in a 35-0 victory over Akron, Pitt's first shutout in 11 years.

Simonian's college career began at Texas-El Paso. He started five games as a redshirt freshman, but never felt comfortable there. He transferred to Boston University and played two years before the school discontinued football after the 1997 season.

Melvin heads Bona inductees

Coach Edward Melvin, who led St. Bonaventure basketball to national prominence, heads the latest group of four inductees to the school's athletic hall of fame. Melvin, whose former surname was Milkovich, will be enshrined with football player Richard Miller, basketball player Paul Hoffman and swimmer John Paul Kopcienski on Feb. 6.

Melvin had a .680 winning percentage (98-46) during his 1947-53 coaching tenure. The Bonnies made their first NIT appearance in 1951 and received their first national ranking, rising to sixth in the Associated Press poll on Jan. 26, 1951.

Miller played linebacker and offensive guard from 1947-50. His blocking provided protection for a sophomore quarterback named Ted Marchibroda. Bona went 26-9-1 during Miller's career.

Hoffman averaged 13.9 points and five rebounds in three seasons of basketball (1970-72). He was a starter on the 1970 Final Four and 1971 NIT teams.

Kopcienski's career (1982-85) included six individual and three relay records. He collected 13 individual event victories as a senior, capturing the Eastern Intercollegiate Championships in the 200-yard freestyle and 400 free relay. He also qualified for the senior nationals in the 200 free and 400 and 800 free relays.

Shooting stars

Nazareth College guard Tom Keenan Jr. (Canisius) set a school record with seven three pointers during a career-high 27-point performance during a Jan. 8 game against Hartwick. The 5-11 junior leads Nazareth with 27 three-pointers and is second in scoring at 16.4 per game.

Another local product, sophomore guard Matt Renkas (St. Francis), is Nazareth's top scorer (16.6 ppg) and is one of the top three-point shooters in Division III (51.1 percent).

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