Friday, March 4, 2011

Mihalich Appreciates Departing Nelson

Near the end of his post-game interview following his team's 73-61 loss to Marist in Friday's play-in round game someone asked Niagara coach Joe Mihalich if he'd be able to replace departing standout senior guard Anthony Nelson next season.

Mihalich just whistled before making his response.

"You're trying to make a bad night even worse," said the Niagara coach. "I don't know if we do that (replace Nelson). Anthony Nelson is unique. We'll find a way, but we're really going to miss him."

During Mihalich's earlier remarks in the post-game session he explained just how much he would miss Nelson.

"I am just in awe of Anthony Nelson," said Mihalich. "He's is an ususual person and an unusual player.

"You look at what he accomplished. He was our league's Defensive Player of the Year. He set our school's assist record and its steal record (as well as leading the country in steals this season).

"All those individual accomplishments are team things: defense ... assists ... steals. He plays for the team. I tell our guys if you play for the team, individual things happen.

'His basketball days aren't over. He'll go somewhere and make a money professionally. Maybe it will be in the NBA. If don't know if he'll make the NBA, but he's got an NBA passing skill.

"I do know that whever he goes ... whoever gets to coach him is going to be a lucky guy and the guys who get to play with him are going to be lucky players."

Nelson, previously a role player on a team that featured Bilal Benn, Tyrone Lewis and Rob Garrison in recent years, stepped into a featured role as Niagara's only senior contributor this season.

"I remember at the league's preseason media day and people got up and talked about needing a leader, or that they had this leader or that leader. I didn't have to worry about that. I had a great leader in Anthony. I was worried about our guys following him, and they didn't do a good job of following him.

"I just hope our young guys learned from being with him this year. Because he was as good as it gets."

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