Niagara prepared for one more shot at MAAC event | Sports activities
Simply over a 12 months in the past, three hundred and sixty six days to be precise, Niagara outlasted Marist in a slugfest to open the Metro Atlantic Athletic Convention 2020 event, claiming a 56-54 victory within the 6-11 recreation. due to Raheem Solomon’s layup with 3 seconds left. the ground of Jim Whelan Boardwalk Corridor in Atlantic Metropolis, NJ
A day later, on March 11, 2020, COVID-19 burst onto the nationwide sports activities scene when the NBA abruptly suspended its season on account of testing optimistic minutes earlier than a Utah Jazz recreation. The NCAA canceled its winter championships, leaving groups throughout the nation with some unfinished enterprise.
Tonight, after a season nonetheless dominated by the pandemic, the Purple Eagles will attempt to choose up the place they left off by opening the MAAC 2021 event in Atlantic Metropolis. And so they’ll do it in opposition to an appropriate foe, those self same pink foxes (7:30 p.m., ESPN +).
“Only for having this chance to take part within the MAAC Championships, we’re grateful,” mentioned NU head coach Greg Paulus, whose workforce simply took a COVID hiatus on the finish of the season.
Among the names have modified from final season, as have the seeds, however one other shut and tight recreation is anticipated. Marist is favored by one level, and most web sites outline the over / below of round 124 factors.
This season, Niagara (8-10, 7-9 MAAC) completed fifth in keeping with the adjusted convention rating, which used total convention wins fairly than convention successful proportion in an try and account for the disparity within the variety of matches performed by totally different applications on account of COVID pauses. Marist (12-8, 10-8) completed fourth.
The groups shared their common season streak Jan. 1-2 at Poughkeepsie. Marist received Sport 1, 63-61, earlier than Niagara went on to blowout in Sport 2, 86-72.
The Purple Foxes have been third in factors allowed within the MAAC recreation (63.6), NU simply behind them in fourth (64.5). Niagara was seventh in rating (65.4), Marist ninth (63.2).
Groups obtain these related stats in very alternative ways. Niagara is by far the most effective workforce within the convention when it comes to turnover (plus-3.56) whereas Marist is the final (minus-3). The 2 are near double the following closest workforce.
However the Purple Foxes have stored MAAC opponents below 40 p.c taking pictures this season, their area objective proportion of 39.2 in opposition to the convention third. They have been additionally third with a 3-point area objective proportion and blocked pictures, led by Jordan Jones in two per recreation.
“They’re rather well skilled,” mentioned Paulus, thanking Marist head coach John Dunne, whose defenses have confused MAAC opponents for 15 seasons. “Their protection is phenomenal. …
“They play workforce protection and they’re very disciplined with their recreation plan. They’ve an excellent dimension the place they can hold the ball and be bodily. They do an ideal job defying the pictures across the edge and so they do not move a number of errors. ”
Offensively, pink foxes supply a balanced assault. Freshman Ricardo Wright received MAAC All-Rookie honors averaging 11.4 factors per recreation, Marist’s lone double-digit scorer. Finest returnee Michael Cubbage was misplaced to damage after 4 video games, and the workforce stored transferring ahead.
Niagara completed the season as the one workforce with two MAAC prime 10 scorers, Kobi Nwandu (fourth, 15.2) and Marcus Hammond (eighth, 13.4). Each received second-team All-MAAC honors.
Hammond has been notably efficient within the two-game break up at Marist this season, averaging 20 factors on over 50% taking pictures.
In a recreation the place factors can come at a premium, Paulus intends to not let his workforce rely too closely on his superior duo.
“I hope we will proceed to obtain contributions from everybody,” he mentioned. “That is once we play our greatest basketball, is once we do additional passes and we actually transfer the basketball and have that form of steadiness.”