NEW YORK - (Niagara University Athletics) The Niagara men's basketball team was picked second in the 2009-10 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Coaches Poll announced on Tuesday from the ESPN Zone in Times Square. Niagara, who earned a bid to the 2009 National Invitational Tournament (NIT), boost two Preseason All-First Team members in seniors Bilal Benn (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Tyrone Lewis (Levittown, Pa.).
Niagara finished the 2008-09 season with 26 wins, the second most in school history and most since the 1921-22 season (27 wins). The Purple Eagles were rewarded with an invite to the NIT where they hosted a postseason game for the first time at the legendary 'Taps' Gallagher Center.
The Purple Eagles return a senior laden team, including Benn and Lewis.
Benn, who was named to the 2009 Citizens Bank MAAC Basketball Championship All-Tournament Team, was an All-MAAC First Team selection last season. He ranked 11th on the MAAC scoring chart, averaging 13.8 points an outing. Benn is the league's top returning rebounder this season, after pulling down 9.3 caroms a night for the Purple Eagles.
Lewis, another member of the 2009 Citizens Bank MAAC Basketball Championship All-Tournament Team, also earned a spot on the All-MAAC First Team last season. He ranked third in the MAAC in scoring, averaging 16.2 points per outing. Lewis led the conference in steals, recording 2.6 takeaways a night, as well at three-point field goals made, logging 2.8 treys per game.
Siena, who advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship for the second consecutive year, was picked to finish first in the MAAC. Rider’s Jason Thompson was tabbed as the preseason player of the year.