Summit Auto Group Best of the Week: It keeps returning to Elijah Hughes in terms of overall excellence. Hughes’ modest 18-point effort in SU’s December 21 win over North Florida only offered a hint at what he could do. A much bigger effort came against Niagara exactly one week later, with Hughes threatening the rare triple-double. In 38 minutes, Hughes fell one assist and one rebound short of a feat that few college players can pull off, his nine rebounds and nine assists complementing 19 points and more than overcoming his five turnovers.
SOS Rewind and Archive: We’ve now reached the 20th anniversary of SU’s underrated 1999-2000 season. Coming in between the 1996 run to the title game and the 2003 national championship epic, this group of Orange couldn’t quite reach either height, but led by Etan Thomas, Ryan Blackwell, Jason Hart and Preston Shumpert, SU won 13 of 16 Big East games, knocked off Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament’s second round (revenge for ’96?) and had Michigan State down in the second half before falling late to the eventual national champion Spartans.
AFLAC Trivia Tidbit: The fact that SU faced Niagara brought back a whole lot of nostalgia because of the history between the two schools. All told, the Orange and Purple Eagles have met 82 times, and it isn’t like SU has totally dominated the series, only managing a 54-28 edge. Niagara was the place where Frank Layden coached and Calvin Murphy, one of the greatest under-6-foot players in basketball history, starred, Murphy averaging more than 33 points per game and scoring 2,548 points overall in his three years from 1967 to 1970.
Upstate Medical University Community Corner: Of course, Niagara’s visit on December 28 brought local hero Greg Paulus to town. Paulus was one of the greatest high school athletes in CNY history, leading Christian Brothers Academy to a state Class AA football title in 2004 while at the same time starring in basketball on his way to Duke University. Then, as a graduate senior, Paulus played football at SU before starting a coaching career that led him to several assistant’s posts, including Ohio State, before ascending to the top job at Niagara at the start of this season.
U.S. Army Weekly Recap: While it mostly rested during the two-week holiday period, SU did find success when it did take the court. On December 21, the Orange met North Florida, from the Atlantic Sun conference, and took down the Ospreys 82-70. Exactly one week later, Greg Paulus brought his Niagara Purple Eagles to the Dome, and while Paulus was doing a fine job in a tough situation (he didn’t take over until just before the season), SU proved too much and won 71-57, and Elijah Hughes nearly engineered a triple-double thanks to 19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.