Small ball is becoming more common in the college basketball world. Taller and less agile brutes are now being substituted for more nimble and quick players. Basketball is a new game. Teams now value speed and pace of play over height. The Niagara Purple Eagles have fully bought into this newfound adaptation but are learning quite quickly the importance of size.
The Purple Eagles took on the Marist Red Foxes at McCann Arena and got completely outmuscled in their so-called attempt to win the game. Niagara’s tallest player in the starting lineup was forward Greg Kuakumensah coming in at 6’6” and Marist completely exploited that weakness. Marist center Jordan Jones had a field day against the smaller Niagara team.
The 6’8” redshirt junior led the team with 18 points and only missed one of his nine field-goal attempts. Niagara would often have to double Jones opening up other opportunities for the Red Foxes. Jones after the game explained how his scoring wasn’t the most important aspect of the game but more his passing. “It’s nice to get my teammates shots and everything because it opens up the floor for me. They are really good shooters and we always work every day on kicking the balls out,” said Jones.
When Jones wasn’t bullying defenders down low it was sophomore Matthew Herasme impacting the game from outside. Herasme finished with 18 points and Marist handed Niagara a 76-54 loss to end their road trip.
Marist head coach John Dunne didn’t do a whole lot of his usual yelling during the game because… well, he didn’t have to. “Yea we moved the ball well. I think we have been playing unselfishly. Last game was a different game those guys were getting up in us making us put it down and make plays. We executed well and played unselfishly and shot the ball with confidence,” said Dunne. “Jordan Jones and our bigs were scoring a little bit…but when he was getting crowded he made the unselfish play.”
The key for the Red Foxes was their rebounding. They outrebounded the Eagles by 17. Dunne after the game gave his best Bill Belichick impression and claimed that rebounding was the focal point of their game plan. “Niagara is not a strong rebounding team so we knew we had to play inside out basketball and do a good job on the glass,” said Dunne. “They are good at turning teams over so we knew if we did the other two things and stay low on the turnovers we would have a good chance.”
Niagara’s only offensive production came from guard Marcus Hammond. He accounted for 22 of the team’s 54 points. Due to the lack of offensive production, it was an extremely disappointing day for the Purple Eagles. They look to get back on track against conference leader Saint Peter’s this Thursday with the season winding down.
As for the Red Foxes, they play Manhattan this Wednesday and look for the regular season sweep. Marist currently sits in 10th place in MAAC standings, below Niagara (9th).