Purple Eagles prepare to dominate in 2009-10 season
Coming off two heartbreaking losses at the end of last season, the Purple Eagles (26-9 in 2008-09) are set to stun the college hoops world yet again. While NU lost center Benson Edemonye (his 443 points were third on the team, and he led the squad in field goal percentage while appearing in all of Niagara's 35 games last season) to graduation, most of last season's starters are set to return to the Gallagher Center. Seniors Tyrone Lewis, Bilal Benn and Rob Garrison (first, second and fourth on the team in scoring, respectively) will no doubt continue with their leadership roles and be excellent examples for newcomers Scooter Gillette (Philadelphia) and Eric Williams (Hope, B.C.).The Purple Eagles tip-off the season on Nov. 13 at Auburn- home-opener is Nov. 17 vs. Drexel.
Graduation took seniors Kayleigh Scannell and Kristina Walton, but the biggest blow to NU Women's hoops was the loss of Erika Harris; who was third on the team in points (241). Lead scorers Jennifer McNamee and Liz Flooks are returning for their senior seasons, while Kayla Stroman, Megan White and Jessica Flamm will get their first look at college basketball.
Be sure to watch sophomores Ali Morris and Grace Cunningham in 2009-10, as they are expected to have developed their game more during the off-season.
Coming off a 3-28 season, the Purple Eagles have nowhere to go but up. NU opens the season against Buffalo at the Gallagher Center on Nov. 13.
Ted Cook, Vince Rocco, Armando Scarlato, Travis Anderson, Dan Sullivan and net minder Juliano Pagliero all left Niagara (16-14-6 in 08-09) in May as graduating seniors, leaving big skates to fill for 2009-10. Senior forwards Chris Moran and Egor Mironov will lead the team offensively, while junior goaltender Adam Avramenko will backstop the squad. Ten rookies will join the squad this season, including forward Brent Vandenberg, who tallied 68 points (35 goals and 33 assists) last season for the Burlington Cougars (OPJHL). The Purple Eagles open the season against the Colgate Raiders at Dwyer Arena on 10/9.
Niagara is looking to rebound from a 6-25-5 season, but a tough schedule could make things difficult. Add in the loss of senior Ashley Riggs, the clubs top scorer last season, to the mix and it's easy to see why the Purple Eagles will have some work cut out. Senior forwards Francis McPhail and Mary McKinnon will look to step up as the offensive team leaders this season, and netminder Jenni Bauer is expected to get most of the crease time. Seven freshmen join the club, and they will no doubt make an impact as well.
The Purple Eagles open the season against a tough opponent, St. Cloud State, on Oct. 2nd.