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How Niagara Wins the MAAC Tourney

I'm thinking this Niagara teams might be Joe Mihalich's best yet. He has super depth. The troops abound with speed and quickness. And they're adept at pressure defense and producing the steal. So how do the Purple Eagles hone their game for the MAAC tourney in Albany in two weeks? Let's look at the little things.

1. Bilal Benn is a warrior, accomplished on both boards and a solid mid-range shooter, but he often gets out of control on drives to the basket. I'd rather see him pull up and take the 10-footer unless he's driving to draw the foul. Nit-picking, perhaps. But I see him get overzealous twice a game when he punctures the lane.

2. Sophomore Anthony Nelson is going to be a point guard we remember for a long, long time before he's done. He's just an absolutely sick passer. I swear he has six eyes. But Nelson can become overly concerned with getting everyone involved in the offense from the perimeter when he can break down defenses with dribble penetration. Niagara reasserted its command over Illinois State Friday night when Nelson began creating off the dribble. Watch out if he spends this summer and the next shooting 500 times a day. He's a solid jump shot away from all-around greatness.

3. Tyrone Lewis is a special player, no doubt. Remember, he was MAAC tourney MVP as a freshman. But he's late in his junior season now, and his decisions in the open floor have to reflect his maturity. Lewis plays the game with such alacrity that sometimes he strives for spectacular when mundane will do.

4. Benson Egemonye went up against a fellow Nigerian center against ISU and it brought out a new level of aggressiveness. Imagine someone 6-foot-10 diving for a loose ball in the corner. Egemonye's better than he knows when he plays with that kind of intensity.

5. I'll admit I wasn't a big Rob Garrison fan until Friday. He's a streak bomber and the streaks don't tend to last very long. But the young man has supersonic quickness and knows how to draw the foul on the drive. What he doesn't do well is square up for the jumper off the dribble. He has to reel it in.

Like I said. All little things. But they'll turn big if there's a third meeting with Siena in the MAAC title game in Albany.

-- Bob DiCesare

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