Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Game 13: UAlbany vs. Kansas

Overview: The Great Danes take on the defending national champions tonight at Allen Fieldhouse on ESPNU at 9 p.m. 

The Jayhawks lost all five starters from their title-winning team. All five were drafted and four of them are playing in the NBA, with Sasha Kaun now playing in Russia. 

UAlbany has won three games in a row and eight of their last ten in jumping out to the program's best start since turning Division I. 

The Great Danes are 0-2 against BCS schools so far this year, losses to Big East schools Villanova and DePaul to open the season. 

While Kansas isn't nearly as good as last year, the Jayhawks still are easily the second best team UAlbany has played behind 'Nova. 

Records: UAlbany 8-4. Kansas 8-3

The Series: These two teams have never met.  

Player to Watch: Sherron Collins, junior Kansas. Collins is averaging 17.8 points and 4.8 assists per game. UAlbany coach Will Brown said that when Collins struggles, so do the Jayhawks, so it is imperative they slow down the 5-foot-11 guard.  

X-factor: Rebounding. UAlbany is averaging +8.4 on the glass, while Kansas is +8.0. In the middle of that is 6-foot-11 sophomore Cole Aldrich, who averages 9.9 rebounds per game. The Great Danes have seven players who average more than 3.5 rebounds per game, but they are primarily guard. Brown has made it a team philosophy to send players to the glass and UAlbany has traditionally been a good rebounding team.  

Prediction: Kansas 79, UAlbany 60 (My record is 10-2)  

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Game 12: Siena vs. Holy Cross

Overview: The Saints play their second game in three days on Tuesday against Holy Cross. 

The Crusaders aren't as good as they were last year, they have lost eight of ten, after a 2-0 start that included victories over Saint Joseph's and Sacred Heart. 

Freshman R.J. Evans leads the way for Holy Cross, averaging 12.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.  

Evans set the school record at Norwich Free Academy in Salem, Conn. with 2,030 career points. 

The Saints got a career-high 28 points from sophomore Clarence Jackson against Saint Joseph's on Sunday to become the fifth Siena player to score more than 20 points in a game. 

Records: Siena 7-4. Holy Cross 4-8 

The Series: Siena lead the all-time series 7-4, which includes last year's 84-77 overtime victory in Albany 

Player to Watch: Edwin Ubiles, junior Siena. Ubiles scored a then career-high 29 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds in last year's win over the Crusaders. Ubiles seemed to have a mismatch with 7-footer Tim Clifford and Alex Vander Baan. Clifford is gone, but Vander Baan at 6-foot-9 is back. Ubiles shot 11-for-13 in the game and played 41 minutes. He also needs just five points to pass Mike Seymour '70 and move into 24th place on the school's all-time scoring list. I expect him to have another big night.  

X-factor: 3-point shooting. Both the Saints and Crusaders have struggled offensively in this area and both are allowing more treys defensively. Holy Cross is allowing opponents to shoot more than 36 percent from 3-point land. Siena hasn't fared well so far this season, but this could be a night where they light it up. The Crusaders have six players who have tried 19 or more three's, so if they get hot, it could be the difference as well.  

Injury Report: It's beginning to sound like a broken record in this section, but Siena junior Cory Magee (concussion) might play in this game. Holy Cross senior Pat Doherty (Achillies) hasn't played in a game this season. Doherty averaged 7.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 25 games and is a tri-captain.   

Prediction: Siena 75, Holy Cross 61 (I had the 1-point victory right in the Saint Joseph's game to improve to 9-2)

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Monday, December 29, 2008

There's no place like home.....

I guess I know why that motto comes from Kansas.

The Jayhawks come into Tuesday's game against the University at Albany with a 30-game winning streak at historic Allen Fieldhouse.

"Since I've been here, we've tried to play some tough teams on the road in some tough environments," UAlbany coach Will Brown said.

Check and check.

While Kansas, isn't ranked currently, the Jayhawks are the defending national champions and 8-3 on the season.

Last week, I asked Virginia transfer Will Harris what it's like when a mid-major comes in to take on a power school.

"Usually the typical mentality is we're playing against Albany tonight, they're in the America East Conference and we're going to play hard and we're going to get a 'W,'" Harris said. "You never really doubt yourself at all and that's probably how they feel right now."

The game will be on ESPNU and here's what Brown and senior co-captain Brian Connelly had to say about that.

"It's good for your program and good for your university," Brown said. "It's one of those things where you're excited that you're playing on TV and you let all your recruits know, the kids that haven't signed with you and you hope you put your best foot forward."

"That's always fun because your family gets to watch you play without going, your friends call you up after the game and tell you how you got dunked on," Connelly said. "That's always fun to get that kind of exposure for our school and our program and help put Albany on the map a little more than it already is."

I wrote a little bit in today's game advance about Cole Aldrich, Kansas's 6-foot-11 big man.

UAlbany's big man Brett Gifford played against him in an AAU Tournament at Allen Fieldhouse and the two know each other well.

Here's what Brown had to say about Aldrich, who is averaging 13.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

"My assistant Pat Filien, who has the scout said to me, 'I noticed that Aldrich has struggled against guys his own size,' so I said sure, we'll take the two or three guys that are 7-feet, 290-pounds and just rotate them in to beat him up."

While Gifford is 6-11 and 260-pounds, he is by far the biggest player on the UAlbany staff.

Louis Barraza
is available after dealing with the flu and missing the past couple games.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Game 11: Siena vs. Saint Joseph's

Overview: It's a return home for Siena coach Fran McCaffery and players Erik Harris, Ronald Moore, Alex Franklin and Clarence Jackson when the Saints take on Saint Joseph's at 7 p.m. on Sunday evening at the Palestra in Philadelphia.

McCaffery grew up in Philly, played college ball there (at Penn) and even coached his first game at Siena there. Here's my story from today's paper on the game.

Here's what McCaffery had to say about the Big 5 (LaSalle, Penn, Villanova, Temple and Saint Joseph's).

"Within the Big 5, since I had no direct affiliation, you might have favored one team one year when they (had a player you liked)," McCaffery said. "I liked St. Joe’s when they had Danny Kelly and guys like that. And Villanova had some really good players and I liked some of those Villanova teams. LaSalle had some really good teams. And those Penn teams in the '70s were phenomenal – they just didn’t lose. The one year of course, they were 28-0 at the end of the regular-season and ended up losing to Villanova in the Eastern Regional Championship game. That was the beauty of it – you had five teams and they were all good. It would have been easy to say: "I like the two teams that are winning", but they were all winning – they all won 20 games and would go to the Tournament."

The Hawks have been a national staple out of the Atlantic-10 Conference in the 14 seasons under coach Phil Martelli, but this season they haven't won back-to-back games.

Saint Joseph's is coming off a 71-67 victory over Cornell on Dec. 22.

The Saints are playing their last couple of games before the new year (calendar that is), with this game and Tuesday's game at Holy Cross.

Siena is still looking to string some wins together, especially since they feel like they've let some non-conference situations get away from them.

The key for Siena will be replacing Tay Fisher's points from last year's game against Saint Joseph's. The senior scored 14 points and hit three 3-pointers.

The Saints have been struggling from beyond the arc (29.8 percent) this season.

Records: Siena 6-4. Saint Joseph's 5-5

The Series: Saint Joseph's leads the all-time series 2-1 and the Hawks won last year's meeting 74-68

Player to Watch: Ahmad Nivins, senior Saint Joseph's. Nivins averages 19.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game so far for the Hawks. Nivins burned the Saints last year with 20 points and shutting him down will be key if Siena is to come out of the city of Brotherly Love with a win.

X-factor: Josh Duell, senior Siena. Duell seems to step up in these types of games and the way he's come around lately after dealing with that Achilles injury from the beginning of the year has been very promising. Duell is only averaging 2.1 points per game and he only scored two points last season against the Hawks when they had a player by the name of Pat Calathes. Watch Duell spread the Saint Joseph's defense and make a difference tomorrow.

Injury Report: Siena junior Cory Magee (concussion) still hasn't played this season and we'll see if this will be the game where he finally makes his return from a preseason injury.

Prediction: Siena 67, Saint Joseph's 66 (This is the first game this season where I'm really unsure of how things will play out. This should be a good one though. My record is 8-2)

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas to all....

Okay I know it's a day after Christmas, but The Blog has decided tonight (it's the sixth night of Chanukkah) to give out some gifts.

Siena senior Kenny Hasbrouck - a 2007-08 Siena highlight tape and a bottle of aspirin. Hasbrouck has struggled more than anybody thought he would so far this season. Maybe watching some clips from last year, when he completely dominated the opposition, including a 30-point performance in the big NCAA Tournament victory over Vanderbilt, will settle him back down. As for the aspirin, Hasbrouck has seen more double teams this season than LeBron James and been the focus of opposing team's defense. His health is certainly a concern as the season progresses.

UAlbany freshman guard Anthony Raffa - full body pads. The way Raffa has played the first 12 games of his college career, he'll be lucky to make it through four seasons. Although, the way Raffa plays is energizing and great for the Danes, he's already slammed into more scorers tables than I'm sure UAlbany coach Will Brown would like.

Speaking of Brown, The Blog would like to give Brown a pat on the back for taking his team which had plenty of talent, but little experience coming in and getting out to the best start in the program's Division I history at 8-4. The Great Danes only losses have come to Siena (6-4), Villanova (11-1), DePaul (7-5) and what ended up being a bad loss to a good team in Lehigh (7-3).

Siena junior Ronald Moore - some respect. Moore is part of the "Big Four" for the Saints, but failed to be named to the All-MAAC First, Second or Third teams. Moore just moved into sixth in program history in assists (394) and he's scored over 600 points (609), to average more than eight points per game over his career. He was also nominated for the Bob Cousy award, given to the country's best point guard.

UAlbany junior Will Harris - an NCAA waiver. Okay, Harris got this back in October, but it allowed him to jump right into action with the Great Danes. While he hasn't been as good as expected or hyped to be so far (10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds per game), he has given a youthful UAlbany team a solid starter and someone who has the potential to be one of the best players in the America East Conference.

Siena juinor Edwin Ubiles - an electric razor and scissors. Ubiles didn't start against UAlbany because he was getting a haircut and thought the morning shoot-around began 30 minutes later than it actually did. With a razor, Ubiles won't have to miss any more starts - although Ubiles did score a game-high 23 points off the bench in that game.

UAlbany sophomore Tim Ambrose - a giant poster on the side of SEFCU Arena with his picture on it. What? There's already one of those - okay well how about the ability to outrebound men twice his size. What? He's UAlbany's leading rebounder. Okay I give up.

Siena freshmen Kyle Downey and Owen Wignot - some playing time. Downey and Wignot have been excellent in games, but some times that can't hit even reach the floor. Downey is averaging 4.0 points and 1.4 rebounds in 9.7 minutes, while Wignot is averaging 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in 11 minutes per game. Both have made freshman mistakes at times, but both have performed like veterans at others. Downey scored 11 points against #3 Pitt, while Wignot scored eight in his collegiate debut against Boise State.

UAlbany Sports Information Director Brian DePasquale - a sweater. Since the state of New York has decided to try and save some money while the student are on break, DePasquale is suffering through a 55-degree office over the winter vacation. Could be worse though, The Blog's house (okay just the first floor) is set at 60 degrees to save money as well.

Siena coach Fran McCaffery - stress relievers. McCaffery's team was receiving Top 25 votes early in the season and even though sophomore Ryan Rossiter had turned it on and the freshmen have been great, the team has struggled in the big games. It only gets tougher for McCaffery as his team gets into league play because they are the unanimous pick to repeat as champions and with the team he's got, anything less will be looked at as a lost year.

Saint Rose men's basketball coach Brian Beaury - a fifth year of eligibility for Steve Dagostino. The Golden Knights are 3-6 this season and off to a slow start after the graduation of Dagostino, Will Monica and Shanty Robinson. Beaury is 493-195 (.717) in 24 seasons on Western Ave., but his team this year is being led by junior Jermaine Clark and Cambridge native Shea Bromirski. Still, Beaury would love to have back Dagostino, who is playing professionally in Hungary.

Hudson Valley Community College coach Andre Cook - some credit. Cook's teams are 47-3 over their last 50 games dating back to the 2006-07 season, including a 29-0 regular season in 2007-08 and the nation's top ranking so far in 2008-09. Cook's record is 99-36 (.733) in this, his fifth season at the helm.

Hope everyone got what they wanted.

Here's to a great start to 2009.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Moore means more (assists that is)

Junior point guard Ronald Moore's eight assists helped him surpass a couple of players, including Scott Knapp ('01) and move into sixth place in the program's all-time list.

Here's what Moore (at left, J.S. Carras - The Record) had to say.
“Whether it’s being known as one of the great point guards or being able to find guys and get assists is a great achievement. I’m going to keep doing what I do best and hopefully at the end I come out on top," Moore said.

Here's the all-time list up to date

Marc Brown 1987-91 796
Matt Brady 1983-87 593
Doremus Bennerman 1990-94 577
Melvin Freeny 1995-99 444
Michael Catino 1978-90 426
Ronald Moore 2006-present 394
Scott Knapp 1997-01 393


The Saints are 6-4 as they head home for two days to rest and relax.

“We had some tough losses early on,” Ubiles said. “None of us are happy the way we played and I think all of us are trying to re-focus to play basketball the way we played last year.”

“Coming off this break, we have to get right back to work with St. Joe’s, Holy Cross and Fairfield,” Moore said. “I think this little break is something that we needed with the schedule that we played so far this season."

Although Siena ended the first half on a 10-0 run and brought an 11-point lead into intermission, McCaffery was none to thrilled with his players.

“We rebounded the ball with 34 (seconds) and I wanted to take the last shot,” McCaffery said. “The reason I was so upset is it was the same thing that happened in the Albany game. It shouldn’t have happened the first time, but it certainly shouldn’t have happened again.”

Here's what McCaffery's floor general had to say.
“It’s something that we’ve been struggling with for a couple of games, not knowing the clock situation,” Moore said. “It’s something we go over in practice over and over again and having those mental lapses is something that frustrates coach.”

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Game 10: Siena vs. Buffalo

Overview: The Saints look to bounce back from their loss to Pitt by taking on the Bulls tonight in Albany.

Buffalo has beaten Temple, who beat Tennessee, which beat Siena. 

The Bulls also lost to #2 Connecticut by four points, whereas the Saints lost to #3 Pittsburgh

Siena has won 17 of its last 19 non-conference home games and are 4-0 at home this season.  

Siena 5-4. Buffalo 5-3  

The Series:
Siena leads the all-time series 6-3. Buffalo won the only matchup when both clubs were at Division I level, two years ago, 69-64.  

Player to Watch: Rodney Pierce, junior Buffalo. Pierce started in the MAAC at Rider and sat out last season due to transferring back home to Buffalo. Pierce has already scored a game-high 28 points against the No. 2 Huskies in a game on Dec. 4. Pierce is the Bulls' leading scorer and he was be guarded tonight by Kenny Hasbrouck. Should be a good matchup and could determine who wins.  

Injury Note:
Siena junior Cory Magee (concussion) could possibly play for the first time this season. Magee, who is listed as questionable, is still recovering from a preseason injury, but has practiced on and off for almost a week now.  

Prediction: Siena 76, Buffalo 68 
(My Siena record is 7-2)

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Confident Clarence

LOUDONVILLE - Siena sophomore Clarence Jackson had one of the most memorable plays from last Wednesday's game vs. No. 3 Pittsburgh.

Jackson, who tied for team-high honors with 12 points ran the baseline and threw it down to cut the Pitt lead to 19-14 with 8:49 to go in the first half.

(A younger Clarence - obviously not throwing it down)

“I was really proud of him,” said Siena coach Fran McCaffery on Monday. “I thought he came off the bench at a time where we desperately needed a spark and he gave us a spark."

Jackson said his play against Pitt served as a reminder to how well he can play.

“I felt like it was a great confidence builder for me, especially after that dunk,” Jackson said. “It really got me going.”

Jackson said his cell phone got little rest after the game.

“It started with my friends and then my family called me and there were really happy for me,” Jackson said. “They were praying it was going to be on ESPN Top 10, but they said it was just a great game for you.”

Jackson's dunk didn't make it on ESPN's Top 10, but Pitt's Sam Young's did.

The 6-foot-3 guard feels like he is coming into a groove after having a hot summer, but slow start to the season.

“I just feel like I’m getting into my rhythm,” Jackson said. “As I am, everyone is coming up, like Josh (Duell) is getting his 3-point shot back, Kyle (Downey) and the freshman are playing really well. I just feel like everybody is coming into one.”

Jackson is thought of more as a 3-point shooter and outside threat, and while he has been slow to get going from downtown, his attacking the glass against Pitt was a major reason that McCaffery was happy with his performance.

"The irony is, he didn’t make any three’s," McCaffery said. "I think that’s the key for him because last year if he’s not making three’s, he’s not as effective. He played great and didn’t make a three. He makes a couple three’s, that’s a different game and he’s got 20 points, so I think he’s really coming.”

“It was frustrating missing three’s, but I just kept shooting,” Jackson said. “I saw it wasn’t falling and I was doing other things like playing defense, rebounding or just slashing to the basket and it was working for me.”

While senior Kenny Hasbrouck's offensive game has been slow (the MAAC preseason Player of the Year is averaging just 4.7 points over the past three games), McCaffery isn't overly concerned.

"I think if we were in a prolonged losing streak it would be a concern," McCaffery said. "The thing that’s good about (Kenny) – I think the Marist game he played really well. He only had nine points, for him that’s a low number. Last year he had 36 against them. But if he didn’t play the way he played down the stretch, we wouldn’t have won that game. So I think it’s important that he understands he has to help us in a lot of ways when his shot isn’t going in, and that’s what he does."

Hasbrouck will be guarding Buffalo's top scorer on Tuesday in Rodney Pierce (17.4 ppg), so he'll have to be up on both sides of the court.

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Game 12: UAlbany vs. St. Francis (N.Y.)

Overview: The Great Danes continue their road trek as they left for Brooklyn Sunday evening for tonight's game against the Terriers.

UAlbany self-admittedly stole a game against Sacred Heart on Saturday and are out to the program's best record through 11 games.

It seems as if the Great Danes are starting to get contributions for many different players.

Freshman Billy Allen hit a couple of big 3-pointers, senior Jerel Hastings scored seven points off the bench and Mike Johnson, who added nine points off the bench hit the game-winning free throw.

For UAlbany to win while only getting two points from Will Harris and one from Tim Ambrose shows that this team is starting to exhibit the depth I thought they would have in preseason.

Records: UAlbany 7-4. St. Francis (N.Y.) 3-6

The Series: The Great Danes lead the all-time series 2-0, including a 66-53 victory last season in which Ambrose scored 17 second-half points.

Player to Watch: Will Harris, junior UAlbany. Harris said before the season began he was looking forward to returning to the New York City area for games against both Columbia and St. Francis. Harris will most likely have family in attendance and he's coming off a poor game where he scored just two points and played only 11 minutes. He did come out of the game with dizziness, so if he's okay to go, I expect him to step up.

X-factor: Home Cooking. The Terriers have won both games at home so far by a combined four points. UAlbany has more talent and should win, but they've had trouble winning and closing out games on the road.

Prediction: UAlbany 67, St. Francis 61 (My record is 9-2)

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Game 11: UAlbany vs. Sacred Heart

Overview: UAlbany looks for their first run on the road since Nov. 25 when they travel to Connecticut to take on Sacred Heart.

The Pioneers went to the championship game of the Northeast Conference last season, but lost to Mount Saint Mary's.

The last time the Great Danes traveled to Sacred Heart they played what coach Will Brown called a terrible game.

Sacred Heart has four starters back from last year and also has gotten the services of graduate student Joey Henley, who is second on the team in scoring and tops in rebounding.

UAlbany has been great so far this year defensively and rebounding and that trend will have to continue if they are to win Friday evening.

Records: UAlbany 6-4. Sacred Heart 3-4

The Series: Sacred Heart leads the all-time series 8-5. UAlbany won last year's matchup 75-57.

X-factor: 3-point defense. The Pioneers are averaging 10 3-pointers in their victories and 5.5 in the four losses. Keeping Sacred Heart from heating up will be imperative to UAlbany's success. The Pioneers have five players who have made more than 8 three's and if they can heat up, there's a good chance they will win.

Prediction: UAlbany 77, Sacred Heart 65 (My record is 8-2)

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

"How to beat UAlbany"

Right after the Great Danes loss to Lehigh, UAlbany coach Will Brown said he put together a scouting report on his team, like he and his staff would do for an opposing team.

Brown made a full 5-page report that included notes on each player, what his team does offensively and defensively, their strengths and weaknesses and keys to beating them and the Great Danes' keys to winning.

"I think that opened up some eyes," said Brown just before the team departed for Sacred Heart on Thursday.

UAlbany (6-4) plays the Pioneers (3-4) Friday night at 7 p.m.

Brown said he thought that the report had worked.

"I think that helped them understand where I was coming from a little bit," Brown said.

Brown also said that he spoke with two coaches from teams that UAlbany has already played and will not play in the future to exchange scouting reports and see what other teams think of his squad.

"That gives us a good feel, as a staff, for what people think about us as a team," Brown said. "That also gives our opponents an idea of what we think about them and that helps us get better and improve."

UAlbany beat Sacred Heart 75-57 last season at SEFCU Arena, but one player that the Great Danes didn't see was Joey Henley.

Henley missed all of last season with a knee injury, but is averaging 13.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this year.

"He's really tough," UAlbany junior Scotty McRae said. "He plays football. He's an animal. He's kind of small, but he's going to play hard."

McRae knows Henley because he worked out with him a few times over the summer along with fellow Sacred Heart player Josh Marshall, who played with McRae at Lawrence Woodmere Academy on Long Island.

"He's a really good athlete," McRae said. "If we keep up with him in transition and we keep him off the glass and we know what moves he likes and if we can take those away, we can do a good job at him."

Sophomore guard Louis Barraza will not make the trip because he has been sick with a stomach virus.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Live Blog

Live Blog for Siena vs. Pitt

Remember I will be beginning a live forum right here on my blog beginning at 9 p.m.

Be sure to stop by to discuss the game.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Game 9: Siena vs. #3 Pitt

Overview: Siena faces their toughest challenge of the season on Wednesday night as they travel to #3 Pitt. The game is on ESPN2 at 9:30 p.m.

The game will be another chance for Siena to gain some national exposure after getting swept down in Orlando at the Old Spice Classic.

The Saints will have to play their best game just to hang with the Panthers, especially in their own arena, where Pitt is 104-10 all-time and 64-1 against non-conference opponents (only loss was Jan. 2, 2005 vs. Bucknell).

“It’s a team that has stars at pretty much every position,” said Siena coach Fran McCaffery about the Panthers.

Records: Siena 2-0, 5-3. Pitt 0-0, 10-0

The Series: Pitt leads the overall series 2-1. Siena won in 1988 thanks to a game-winning basket by Steve McCoy. The Panthers won 82-80 in 1990 at the Knickerbocker Arena.

Player to Watch: DeJuan Blair. I might take some flack for not putting Sam Young in this spot. Young's good. Okay, he's really good, but it's Blair's ability to rebound and score that makes this team dangerous. Blair is averaging a double-double (15 points, 13 rebounds) in 26 minutes so far this year. Imagine if he played 30 or 35 minutes - would he average 20 points and 16 rebounds? McCaffery says he's one of the best rebounders he's ever seen and he's seen more rebounders than I have, so I'm going with Blair in this spot.

X-factor: Avoiding a big run. McCaffery and the players talked on Monday about avoiding a run.

“We can’t go on the road and turn the ball over,” McCaffery said. “We can’t take quick, crazy shots and we can’t let it get away from us like we did against Tennessee.”

Against the Volunteers, Siena allowed an 18-0 run to take them right out of the game.

“We watched it on film,” senior co-captain Kenny Hasbrouck said. “We knew exactly what would happen if we took crazy shots or made dumb mistakes and we went out and did it.”

The key will be not allowing it tomorrow night.

Injury Note: Junior Cory Magee (concussion) is back practicing, but it's uncertain if he'll play.

According to the Monday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Levance Fields (foot), Jermaine Dixon (groin) and guard Gilbert Brown (foot) are as healthy as they have been all season.

Prediction: Pitt 85, Siena 67 (My Siena record is 6-2).

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Siena's PITTfall

Siena is getting ready to take on No. 3 Pitt on Wednesday night at 9:30 on ESPN2.

Here's what coach Fran McCaffery had to say about the Panthers on Monday.

"Pittsburgh's the best team I've seen so far on our schedule," McCaffery said. "They're deep, they're big. They have experience. They really execute extremely well, which you would expect with a senior point guard like Levance Fields."

Pitt is 10-0 and their closest game was a 13-point victory over Texas Tech.

They have a great frontline in 6-foot-6 Sam Young and 6-7 DeJuan Blair.

Young averages 20.6 points and 5.9 rebounds and Blair, who McCaffery called one of the best rebounders he's ever seen, is averaging 14.6 points and 12.8 reboudns (5.9 offensive rebounds per game).

Also, I'll have more on this but I will be hosting a live forum right here on my blog while the Pitt game is going on for anyone who can't make it down to the Petersen Events Center.

Feel free to come by around 9 p.m. on Wednesday and we'll be talking all Siena.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Game 10: UAlbany vs. Canisius

I've been a little under the weather the last day and a half, so I apologize for this entry, which will be short and is being posted only six hours before tip-time. 

The Great Danes come in on two consecutive losses, and on Monday surrendered a 15-point second-half lead in a road loss at Lehigh

"We choked," senior co-captain Brian Connelly said. "We dug ourselves this hole and we have to get out of it."

The youth and experience are starting to show themselves a little bit. 

"Like we've been saying pretty much since the beginning of the season, this team is young and inexperienced," Connelly said. "Maybe that was a good lesson. It stinks we had to learn through a loss, rather than maybe a close win, but it happened and we have to get over it."

The UAlbany players admittedly didn't have great energy in the first half against Siena are the second half on Monday, but they keep saying the right things about how they must continue playing hard, regardless the score. 

"What this team needs to understand is there's a common theme," UAlbany coach Will Brown said. "We're not making shots. When you're not making shots, you need to have longer possessions offensively, you can't settle for a decent shot or take a quick shot and then two, you're defense and rebounding needs to be that much better."

That brings us to today's game against MAAC opponent Canisius. 

This is a return game from the BracketBusters event from last season. 

UAlbany had a 18-point first-half lead in that game in Buffalo, before the Golden Griffins came back to post a 64-60 victory. 

"We slipped up against them last year," Connelly said. "This year, we get to play them at our building, so it would be nice to get a win."

I think revenge should be on the UAlbany players minds and even though this Canisius is better than the 5-21 team that beat the Great Danes last year, I think UAlbany will come out on top. 

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Duell getting back in the groove

ALBANY - Siena senior co-captain Josh Duell was pretty pleased with the way he played Monday night in the Saints' 77-60 victory over MAAC rival Marist.

"I felt good shooting and good running up and down the court," said Duell, who hit two 3-pointers and played 17 minutes.

This rivalry is special for Duell, whose freshman year roommate at the University of Vermont, Ryan Schneider is on the other side, wearing Marist red and white.

Duell told me earlier in the week that it's been hard for Schneider, who has played for four coaches in five seasons (Tom Brennan and Mike Lonergan at Vermont and Matt Brady and Chuck Martin at Marist) to find a rhythm.

Schneider was apparently throwing up on the bus on the way up to Albany for this evening's game, but that didn't slow him too much.

The red-shirt senior finished with team-highs in points (11) and rebounds (7).

“He’s a tough kid,” Duell said. “He’ll do whatever he has to do to play basketball, that’s how he’s always been.”

Duell said that Brennan, who was part of the 5,351 in the crowd tonight helped him with his shot as did older brother Rob, who got to get on the floor tonight, too.

The eldest Duell took part in the Northeastern Fine Jewelry contest and showed off his stroke, making a couple of three's and then knocking one down from NBA range to rack up what I thought was $280 (I wasn't quite sure of the exact total).

Josh had a tough time keeping a straight face on the sideline even though Siena was trailing 53-51 at the time.

“He taught me the stroke,” the younger Duell said. “He was always a good shooter in high school and I never was in high school."

Rob played basketball at Niskayuna High School and then played baseball at Sacred Heart University, while Josh played prep ball at Christian Brothers Academy in Colonie.

As for Josh's key for the 20-2 run to end the game.

“I think we just picked up our energy level,” Duell said.

Sophomore forward Ryan Rossiter
said he was pretty much back to 100 percent before tonight's game, he just didn't have the energy he needed in the first half.

“I just didn’t have it early on,” Rossiter said. “He (Coach Fran McCaffery) asked me if I was all right and I told him I was fine.”

Rossiter said he gave it his all for McCaffery in the second half.

“He’s the most honest coach I’ve every played for,” Rossiter said. “He told me, straight up, I wasn’t bringing it and I took it personal and tried to go out there and give him everything he needed.”

Rossiter did add that he would "live" in the training room for the eight days Siena has off (at least while he's not taking finals).

Junior forward Alex Franklin
led the way tonight with 22 points and eight rebounds.

I asked Franklin after the game is the fact that anybody can have a big night (i.e. four different leading scorers so far this season) the main reason why the Saints are so hard to play against.

“That’s why I love being on this team,” Franklin responded. “We’re so deep that any given night, somebody can go off.”

As for the 20-2 run to end the game and 16-0 run to break it wide open, I asked senior co-captain Kenny Hasbrouck what he thought about holding the Red Foxes to two points over the final 11:06.

“I didn’t know that,” Hasbrouck responded. "I'm just out there playing."

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Game 8: Siena vs. Marist

Overview: First place is on the line tonight in downtown Albany when Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference rivals Marist and Siena meet.

While both teams are 1-0, the Saints were unanimously picked to win the MAAC, while the Red Foxes were predicted to finish last (10th).

Both teams won their first conference game, but Siena won on the road somewhat comfortably (although tell that to Saints fans), while Marist won at home on a last second shot.

New Marist coach Chuck Martin has this team playing differently. They like to dribble, drive and kick as opposed to the past few years with coach Matt Brady (a former Siena point guard), who liked to run set plays.

Siena has won all three games at home this season and all four evening games (only losses came before 1 p.m. at the Old Spice Classic)

The Saints have won 20 of their last 26 MAAC games.

Records: Siena 1-0, 4-3. Marist 1-0, 3-4

Player to Watch: Kenny Hasbrouck, senior Siena. Yes Hasbrouck is stuggling from the field. Yes he's struggling from the free throw line. He's struggling, I got it. Just like Siena coach Fran McCaffery, I'm going to continue to go to the preseason Player of the Year. Last time out against Marist, Hasbrouck scored 35 points, made five 3-pointers in a soldout game on national television.

Let me paste below a sentence from that game's press release.

The junior entered the game in a prolonged shooting slump, but made big shot after big shot to secure the win.

Sound familiar? I'm giving Hasbrouck my green light for tonight.

X-factor: Free Throw Shooting. While I don't think it will make a difference in the outcome of this game, Siena has to get this figured out. McCaffery isn't overly concerned or at least that's what he said on Monday, but Siena is shooting just 58.9 (99-168) percent from the line. Through 34 games last season, the Saints shot 68.9 percent. The team is shooting more shots in practice, but they say there is a little bit of added pressure knowing that everyone is struggling.

Injury Report: Junior Cory Magee (concussion) still isn't back practicing, but he worked out on Sunday for the first time since his injury and at the weekly luncheon McCaffery made it seem as Magee is on his way back.

Sophomore Ryan Rossiter (head) practiced Monday and is in the projected starting lineup for tonight's game. Since the Saints have eight days off for finals after this game, Rossiter should be a go.

Prediction: Siena 82, Marist 63 (I don't see this one being close. My Siena record is 5-2)

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Game 9: UAlbany vs. Lehigh

Overview: The Mountain Hawks have had some strange results so far this season, including beating Rutgers, losing by one point to Rider and then losing Friday night to Stony Brook by 19 after they had a nine-point lead with 14 minutes to go.

Junior point guard Marquis Hall
is the team's leading scorer at 14.8 points per game, he's second in rebounding at 6.3 per game and tops in assists at 4.6 assists per game.

He scored 28 in the program's first victory over a Big East school since 1990 and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds.

Hall was also nominated for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation's top point guard. Siena's Ronald Moore was also a nominee.

Lehigh has a scorer coming off the bench in sophomore Prentice Small and a 7-footer in senior John Gourley.

UAlbany lost their first game against a team from outside of the Big East on Saturday night when they fell to crosstown rival Siena.

Sophomore Tim Ambrose
has scored in double figures for six straight games for the Great Danes.

UAlbany coach Will Brown
said this game wasn't originally scheduled for this date, but he tried to accommodate Lehigh, who said they were getting a guarantee game later in the month (I'm assuming Dec. 23 at Washington).

UAlbany 5-3. Lehigh 5-3

The Series:
The Great Danes lead the series 3-2, including a win last year at SEFCU Arena.

Player to Watch: Anthony Raffa, freshman UAlbany.
On top of scoring and distributing, Raffa may also earn the task of guarding Marquis Hall, who is the same height as him. I was really impressed with Raffa's demeanor after the Siena game. He was already focused on getting over the rivalry loss and looking ahead to Lehigh. I've also been the most impressed with Raffa of any of UAlbany's new players. He's been fearless at the point, but also has been responsible with the ball.

X-factor: First Half Performance.
In all three of UAlbany's losses, all on the road, they've gotten behind early. In Saturday's game, all of the Great Danes I spoke to said they lacked intensity early and that was the difference. UAlbany is actually +5 in their three losses in the second half. In the first half of those games, the Great Danes are -41.

Injury Report: Lehigh senior Phil Anderson
has missed the last two games with an unspecified injury. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 9.8 points and 5.7 rebounds through the first six games.

Prediction: UAlbany 68, Lehigh 61
(My record is 7-1)

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Connelly fighting more than opponents

ALBANY - UAlbany senior Brian Connelly was diagnosed with diabetes during high school, but he found out a few weeks ago he wasn't doing everything he could to fight it.

Connelly said he visited a Diabetic Educator at the Endocrine Group a couple of weeks ago and found out some new things.

"Apparently I wasn't getting the amount of energy I needed the past three years," Connelly said. "I found out and adjusted."

Connelly says instead of reacting to his sugar level and then taking a shot, he takes the shot before he eats.

Basically, he's doing things before rather than after.

"Scientifically, it allows me to get the energy to compete at a higher level," Connelly said.

After a slow start to this season, Connelly says it really is helping him out.

"Now I concentrate on doing it before every game and every practice," Connelly said. "So far, I think it's helped me."

Connelly is averaging 11.8 points per game over the past four games.

"I guess I should stick with it," Connelly said.

While Connelly would have loved to beat Siena once in his career, he thinks the rivalry is great for this area.

"Looking back, I wish we would have won one," Connelly said. "It’s a great thing for the city because a lot of people come out here and pretty much don’t know who to root for. It bring everybody together for friendly competition."

He was one of a number of Great Danes who said that Siena is very good, but not that much better than his squad.

"I think they’re a great team," Connelly said. "I’ve always thought they’re a great team. I think they’re well-coached. I think a lot of their players have a lot of talent, but I don’t think that they’re that much better than us, no."

He also posed the question to me about if the rivalry was played at the SEFCU Arena, something coach Will Brown also mentioned in his postgame press conference.

"What happens if they play at our place?," Connelly said. "Maybe the outcome is different. Even if we play here again, the outcome might be different."

"I would still like to play them twice," Brown said. "Once here and once in the SEFCU, even if it means two losses for us."


UAlbany sophomore Tim Ambrose was upset with the result on Saturday night and even offered a guarantee that the Great Danes would win one meeting in his next two years.

"Yes," said Ambrose when asked if UAlbany would beat Siena over his next two seasons. "Guarantee."

Okay it was more of an agreement than a direct statement.


Siena coach Fran McCaffery had nothing but good things to say this week as the matchup approached and he didn't change his tune after his team came out with a 7-point win.

"I’m not just saying this, I can’t imagine a better team in the America East than the team we just played," McCaffery said. "They’re physical, they’re quick, they’re deep, they don’t panic, they make plays and they challenged us on ever possession."

Brown responded by saying to some of the camera that his team wouldn't practice or play against until March if they would just be crowned.

He knows there's a long way to go.


The Great Danes head out of town tomorrow for Monday's game against Lehigh.

Brown said after the Siena game that the game was supposed to be played later in December but that Lehigh had asked to move the game so they could pick up a guarantee game on that date.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Harris steps up (Erik that is)

ALBANY - With Cory Magee out and Josh Duell still trying to return to last season's form, senior Erik Harris was called on to make some key contributions for Siena against UAlbany.

After intermission sophomore Ryan Rossiter didn't return to the floor and so Harris knew he'd have to step up.

"They told us he couldn't see, so he's not going to play," Harris said. "If something goes wrong with Rossiter then I need to be ready."

Rossiter apparently took a shot to the face and didn't play at all in the second half.

No worry. Harris filled in with 13 minutes of playing time, scoring four points and blocking a shot.

"I’m really proud of him," Siena coach Fran McCaffery said. "He was a part of my first recruiting class. He was a big gangly 180 pounds and just worked himself into a player because he has phenomenal character."

Harris got some coaching from Rossiter during timeouts, once Rossiter finally returned to the bench.

"He knows that my tendency is to go for shot block," Harris said. "He told me to stay on me feet and make them score over me and that really helped because they had some trouble scoring over me."

Harris knows his role, but he was able to get some easy lay-ins when the UAlbany defense left him alone.

"Once I'm out there I know my role is to screen for the guys who can score, attack the glass and play sold defense," Harris said.

With the Saints light up front, it was a great time for Harris to step in.

"Okay big fella you have to do it," McCaffery said. "This is your chance and what an opportune time for him to have this type of game."


Note to Siena junior point guard Ronald Moore, if you don't like your position, UAlbany coach Will Brown would love it.

"Ronald Moore had the greatest job in the world," said Brown following the game. "He gets to pass the ball to those three guys."

Brown was referring to Kenny Hasbrouck, Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin, but it was Moore whose 17 points really hurt Brown's Great Danes Saturday night.

"We were going to give up shots to Ronald Moore and he stepped up and knocked them down tonight and that’s credit to them," Brown said.

Ubiles scored a game-high 23 points and drew all sorts of praise from Brown after his defense allowed him to score some easy hoops.

"How do you not guard Edwin Ubiles," Brown said. "The guy is the most talented player in the MAAC and I asked my guys and I didn’t get the answer I was hoping to hear."

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Game 8 & 7: UAlbany vs. Siena

Overview: Siena and UAlbany take the floor tonight in the eighth meeting since the crosstown rivalry has been renewed. 

The Saints have won six of the past seven meetings and they seem to be the heavy favorite going into tonight.

Close to 11,000 seats had been sold on Friday morning (I'm glad I've got a seat reserved), so it should be another great atmosphere.

The last three games have been decided by a combined 13 points, two going to overtime, so it should be a close game. 

"It's always going to be a close game," Siena senior co-captain Kenny Hasbrouck said. "One time, we were up by 22 and they still came back. No matter what we do it's going to be a hard game, a competitive game and it's going to be a close score at the end." 

Records: UAlbany 5-2. Siena 3-3 

The Series: The Saints led the most recent part of the series 6-1 and the overall series 29-18 

Player to Watch: Alex Franklin, junior Siena. Franklin had a monster game last year against UAlbany, 24 points and 10 rebounds. Franklin has had breakout games before in big spots and he could be poised for another one tonight. UAlbany coach Will Brown called Franklin an "absolute stud" on the blocks. At 6-foot-5, Franklin is undersized down low but he is more athletic than most big men.  

X-factor: Rebounding. Siena's style will dictate the pace because UAlbany is a much more athletic team than they were last season so it will come down to the war on the glass. If the Saints can keep it close with their improved rebounding led by sophomore Ryan Rossiter, the game shouldn't be close. The Great Danes won the rebounding battle 45-29 last year and if they can have that type of margin again, they may have a chance to steal this one.   

Injury Report: Siena junior Cory Magee (concussion) didn't practice on Friday and is still working his way back from the preseason injury that has held him out of all game action and the trip to the Old Spice Classic. 

As far as UAlbany is concerned, I think everyone is as healthy as can be although Coach Brown said he was a little banged up from playing tackle football with his six-year-old son Jackson. 

"I'm hurting, so I don't know if I can deal with the noise right now," said Brown, when asked if he would do anything during practice to simulate the noise that will be generated by what should be a very big crowd. "I have a backache, a headache, so we'll probably lay low with the crowd noise." 

Prediction: Siena 77, UAlbany 71 (My combined record this year is 10-3) 

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UAlbany in Gridiron Classic

The University at Albany (8-3) football team plays Jacksonville (9-3) today in the Gridiron Classic. The game will also be televised on the YES network. 

Sophomore offensive lineman Andrew Stevens (left), who is originally from Sarasota, Fla., should know how the Dolphins players will feel today when they step outside into the 30 degree weather. 

Also, here's a column I wrote on the UAlbany football program and taking their success to the next level. 

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Rossiter making an impact

LOUDONVILLE - Siena's Ryan Rossiter may only be just a sophomore, but his presence is being felt. 

In fact, he gave Siena one of their best performances at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando. 

In the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener, the 6-foot-9 forward finished with eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks in an 8-point victory over Loyola. 

"I'm just trying to do my job on the team," said Rossiter before Friday's practice. "We have four outstanding players who start with me and we have great guys coming off of the bench, so my job is kind of easy I think, compared to what they have to do."

Rossiter is averaging 11 points and eight rebounds through six games and that was against some of the better teams Siena will face this season. 

Rossiter has been a big reason as to why Siena's biggest problem from 2007-08, rebounding, has now been going in the right direction. 

"Last year Coach got on us about the rebounding and rightfully so," Rossiter said. "This year, we're trying to take it a little more seriously because we lost some games because of giving up second-chance opportunities."

Rossiter says the biggest difference this season is the trust the coach Fran McCaffery has in him. 

"Freshman year if I made a mistake, he might want to take me out because we had veteran guys in there that weren't going to make those mistakes," Rossiter said. "This year if I mess up once, he leaves me in there to just play through it and I think that does a lot for my confidence."

Rossiter posted the first two double-doubles of his career this season (vs. Cornell and Tennessee) and if he plays well on Saturday against the University at Albany, he could make a big difference in the outcome.

"He gives them a low-post presence with some size," UAlbany coach Will Brown said.  


McCaffery had some high praise for UAlbany today before practice. 

"I really like their team," McCaffery said. "If there's a better team in the America East, I haven't seen it."

McCaffery also said that even though there are a handful of Great Danes who haven't experienced this rivalry, he doesn't see them being nervous. 

"They don't appear to me to be the kind of players who will rattle in that type of situation," McCaffery said. "At least that's my view of what I've seen on film and what I know about some of those guys from high school, (Anthony) Raffa in particular, who I've been very impressed with."

Senior co-captain Kenny Hasbrouck also weighed in on the Great Danes, including former teammate at Maine Central Institute, Will Harris

"He is a tough matchup," Hasbrouck said. "I think (Tim) Ambrose is a real tough matchup, (Brian) Connelly's a good matchup. They have a lot of good players on their team." 


On Thursday, Brown said what he thought of Siena's squad. 

"They always put pressure on you," Brown said. "Ronald Moore is always looking to get in the lane, Hasbrouck's always looking to make a play, (Edwin) Ubiles is a very good 1-on-1 player, (Alex) Franklin is a beast down on the low blocks and Rossiter is much, much improved." 

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Harris and Hasbrouck: Friends, now foes, but still friends

The University at Albany had their one day of meeting with the media this week, today (Siena's is tomorrow) as they prepare for crosstown rival Siena College on Saturday night. 

Junior forward Will Harris said he knows Siena senior captain Kenny Hasbrouck pretty well. 

Hasbrouck and he played together at Maine Central Institute in 2004-05. 

Maine Central Institute has some other pretty famous alumni, including NBA players Caron Butler, Sam Cassell, Brad Miller and Cuttino Mobley.  

Harris averaged 26.0 points per game while playing for MCI. 

"We still talk from time to time," said Harris of his relationship with Hasbrouck. "We've talked a couple times this week."

Harris said there's hasn't been much trash talking, because he and Hasbrouck, were and are still good friends. 

Harris went from MCI to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire then on to Virginia and now has landed at UAlbany. 

Hasbrouck became Siena coach Fran McCaffery's first recruit and is now the captain of the defending MAAC champions. 

"Kenny was a real good player when we were at MCI together," Harris said. "All of his hard work has paid off."

Harris was asked what his former teammate's best trait was. 

"His heart," Harris said. "He never gives up and he always goes hard 100 percent of the time."

Harris said the he thought Hasbrouck would reply the same if asked that question. 

"When we were at MCI, we used to be in some pretty tough games and me and him would always get together and tell each other, we're never out of the game," Harris said.  

It's not surprising that when Harris was asked who the Great Danes needed to shut down on Saturday, this was his reply. 

"Probably Kenny Hasbrouck or Edwin Ubiles," Harris said. "Those two are real good players and we're going to do our best to keep them out of the game."


Harris is averaging 8.9 points per game, but he only scored four points in two games against Bryant. 

In Monday's game, Harris was held out of the scoring sheet, something UAlbany coach Will Brown called "mind-boggling."

"Everybody has rough nights and I'll play through that," said Harris of his 0-for-6 shooting night. 

Newsflash to America East foes and future UAlbany opponents, Harris doesn't plan on another night like that for some time.  

"It was a rough night for me," Harris said. "I've been in the gym working, so I wouldn't expect that again."

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Game 6: Siena vs. Loyola

Overview: The Saints head to Reitz Arena tomorrow evening, probably the one place they wouldn't mind skipping over on their northern trip back home.

Siena has lost two times in a row in Baltimore and senior Kenny Hasbrouck is the only member of the team that has tasted victory in Loyola's home building.

Add to that the fact that the Greyhounds have won four regular season meetings, including a gut-wrenching 83-76 overtime victory in Albany, after Greg Manning hit a three-pointer with 10 seconds to go.

That also spoiled a career-high 37-point performance from Edwin Ubiles, which was the most points by a Saints player since Doremus Bennerman scored 51 in a 1994 NIT game.

Siena did beat Loyola in the MAAC semifinals last year in Albany, when Josh Duell's shot with 20 seconds to go capped a 17-point come-from-behind victory.

Records: Siena 0-0, 2-3. Loyola 0-0, 2-5

The Series: Siena leads the overall series 32-13.

Player to Watch: Ryan Rossiter, sophomore Siena. Rossiter has become a beast since the summer trip to Italy. Rossiter is averaging 11.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, he's had his first two career double-doubles and now gets his first crack at a MAAC opponent. With the graduation of Michael Tuck and Omari Isreal, the Greyhounds are small up front and Rossiter should be able to take advantage.

X-factor: Three-point defense. Loyola made 34 three's last season in three games against Siena and shot 47 percent (34-73) from beyond the arc (Remember Siena shot just 43 percent (12-28) from the free throw line last game against Oklahoma State). That included a school-record 18 treys against the Saints in a 85-56 drubbing in January. Junior Brett Harvey had nine of those 3-pointers last year against Siena. He is the team's leading scorer, who has already dropped a career-high 34 points against Tennessee State (not the one Siena palyed) this season.

Of Note: This nine-day, four-game trip that culminates on Wednesday marks the longest that a Siena team has ever been away from campus during the season, in its 66-season history...Also, the Siena has never lost four games in a row under coach Fran McCaffery.

Injury Note: Since the team didn't return to Loudonville in between their games at the Old Spice Classic and this matchup, junior Cory Magee (concussion) still is not with the team.

Prediction: Siena 74, Loyola 67 (Could the Saints lose four in a row? I don't see it. My Siena record is 3-2.)

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UAlbany is playing who on Saturday....

ALBANY - University at Albany coach Will Brown was happy about his fifth team straight victory, but was quickly asked about the upcoming game with crosstown rival Siena (2-3).

"Too much is made of this game," Brown replied. "I've got seven guys who probably didn't even know who we played on Saturday."

Those guys Brown is referring to are the new players he has on his squad this season that haven't participated in the rivalry.

With that being said, I had to ask one of those new guys what he tought of Siena.

"They're a very good team," freshman point guard Anthony Raffa said of the Saints. "This is a big rivalry. I really don't know that much about them. Obviously, they made in the NCAA Tournament last year, that's about it."

Senior Brian Connelly said he didn't have to tell the younger guys much about the rivalry and that he'll let them experience it for themselves.

This is what college basketball is all about," Connelly said.

Brown said his team would take the day off Tuesday, but he and his assistants would start preparing for the Saints on Tuesday.

"We don't want to make too much out of it," Brown said. "We're not going to really discuss it too much...I guess Saturday can't come soon enough."

Brown said his team was the heavy underdog, which may be correct, but his team sure is gaining confidence.

"We realize that nobody thinks we have a shot and that's fine," Brown said. "I think we're a little bit better than people think, but how that translates to Saturday, only time will tell."

While UAlbany went 2-0 against Bryant this season, Virginia transfer Will Harris will surely be glad not to play the Bulldogs any more.

Harris, who is averaging 8.9 points per game, didn't score on Monday in 23 minutes and was 0-for-6 from the field.

"The fact that Will Harris had the donut tonight is absolutely mind-boggling," Brown said. "That's twice. Bryant's got that padlock. They took the key and threw it out because he's done nothing against them."

Harris' stats in two games against Bryant....four points on 1-for-10 shooting, 10 rebounds and six turnovers in 43 minutes

Junior Scotty McRae has seen more playing time lately and has been a presence inside.

Although he only scored three points on Monday, he grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, blocked a shot and had a steal.

"He's would play more if he understands he's not a 6-foot-8 jump-shooter," Brown said. "When he attacks the rim, and plays like an athlete, which he is, he can really help us. He's as talented as anybody we have."

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