Team preview: Niagara

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Calvin Murphy's name fills the Niagara basketball record book. Last season, Murphy's Law ruled the basketball program.

One season after romping to the MAAC Tournament title and earning its first NCAA Tournament bid since Murphy scored the last of his 2,548 points on Monteagle Ridge in 1970, everything that could go wrong for the Purple Eagles on the court seemingly did.

The biggest blow occurred in a Jan. 29 win over Rider when sophomore forward Charron Fisher (18.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.0 bpg), who was well on his way to all-conference honors, tore up his right knee and was lost for the season.

Depth was already an issue for the Purple Eagles, who red-shirted two freshmen and saw two others transfer, and Fisher's injury left Niagara with just seven players for its final 10 games. The Purple Eagles played hard but, in the end, didn't have enough playmakers to avoid their first losing season since 1996-97.

"We had one of those years that you never think you are going to have," coach Joe Mihalich said. "But as they say, 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' "

A healthy Fisher, the return of three senior starters and the arrival of three freshman guards should make the Purple Eagles, who return four double-digit scorers, stronger this season.

"We need to mix the old and the new, and that's the age-old challenge," Mihalich said. "I just really hope that these freshmen can help us enough right away."