Game 9: Siena vs. #3 Pitt
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).