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Former Canisius player, coach Niland dies

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Former Canisius College basketball player and coach Joe Niland died, the school said Tuesday. He was 89.

Niland, who died Sunday of natural causes, played for Canisius from 1939-42. After serving two years with U.S. Gen. George Patton's armored division in Germany, Niland returned to Canisius in 1947 and served as coach until 1953.

He went 76-61 in five seasons, leaving him tied for sixth in wins in school history. Niland's .555 winning percentage is 12th best at Canisius.

Niland was inducted into the Canisius Sports Hall of Fame in 1964 and the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and was selected to the school's All-Century Team in 2004.

He was also a mentor to his nephew and current West Virginia coach John Beilein.

Niland served as scout for the Buffalo Braves from 1970-72 before the NBA team moved to San Diego and was renamed the Clippers.

He also scouted for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1960s and spent 10 seasons as an aide to Buffalo Bills general manager Bill Polian.