Benson Egemonye's graduation was supposed to hit Niagara hard, but the Purple Eagles were expected to use their abundant, strong guard play to overcome their lack of a capable post presence.
The first expectation came to fruition. Niagara lost games by being out-rebounded and averaged 3.3 less rebounds per game than its opposition.
The latter assumption, however, made an a-s-s out of u, me, and MAAC coaches, who slated Niagara as Siena's runner-up in the preseason poll. The guards simply couldn't carry the team.
Sure, you can say the Purple Eagles got off to a slow start without Tyrone Lewis, who suffered an ankle injury nine minutes into the season opener at Auburn. You can also say the team began to gel during its three-of-four surge upon Lewis' return but took a step back when Bilal Benn missed three games because of knee surgery.
Regardless, the guard play was simply inconsistent. With a few exceptions, Niagara won when it received offensive production from its guards and lost when it didn't.
Five games ago, the Purple Eagles were 11-12, 4-7 MAAC. They've taken four of five since then, though, defeated league favorite Siena, and have a chance to finish 10-8 with games at Manhattan and Fairfield, both of whom Niagara has already beaten.
A 10-8 MAAC finish is far from what the Purple Eagles could have and should have achieved, but they still have time to right the ship by making noise in the MAAC tournament.
Photo from Buffalo Sports Daily