Friday, February 29, 2008

Tay's Day

Siena's Tay Fisher looks up to the scoreboard during a pre-game ceremony to honor the Saints lone senior on Senior Night against Niagara. (Mike McMahon — The Record).

This is a picture of the Siena team behind Tay Fisher during a pre-game ceremony that honored him before tonight's 94-78 victory over Niagara.

Siena can clinch first place in the MAAC with a win Sunday against Saint Peter's and a Loyola loss to Marist and a Niagara victory over Canisius......Trust me.

I'll have more on the game sometime tomorrow.

Banding Together

The Siena men's basketball team is honoring Tay Fisher tonight before the game with Niagara.

To show their support, every member of the team is wearing white headbands.

Fisher also is with his entire family, including his mother, who has only seen one other Siena game, and got a standing applause from the crowd.

Fisher said earlier in the week it won't be fun if the Saints don't win, so now it's game time.....

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Big Night for the Danes....and they were Idle

UAlbany's postseason live came into focus on Thursday night, even with Will and the boys being off.

Hartford, who was alone in second place, above the logjam for third got destroyed by Boston U., 97-66. How about 38 from John Holland and 21 for Corey Lowe. (Good today, maybe not so good looking ahead to Sunday's matchup as B.U. has won three in a row and eight of their last nine)

That was good, but Vermont dropping a game on the road to New Hampshire 68-65, spelled great if your a Great Danes fan.

If UAlbany beats Boston U. on Sunday and UMBC takes down Hartford, the Great Danes will miraculously snatch the second seed for next weekend's league tournament.

If they win and Hartford wins, the Hawks would get the second seed based on UMBC's season sweep of UAlbany.

Here are the standings with one game to go for everyone except UNH.
UMBC 13-2, 21-7
Hartford 9-6, 15-15
UAlbany 9-6, 14-14
Boston U. 9-6, 13-15
Vermont 8-7, 14-14
Binghamton 8-7, 13-15
New Hampshire 6-10, 9-19
Maine 3-12, 7-21
Stony Brook 3-12, 6-21

Here are Sunday's matchups
Boston U. @ UAlbany
UMBC @ Hartford
Maine @ Vermont
Binghamton @ Stony Brook

All the games are at 2 p.m. except for the Maine/Vermont game, which is 1 p.m.

The Powers are with him

Forgive Ray Bleser if he doesn't sleep well tonight. I wouldn't.

Especially, after the display that Roger Powers put on today at the ARC on Siena's campus where he hit three of six half court shots.

Powers, who ironically is the all-time leading scorer in The College of Saint Rose's history with 2,027 points, will get three chances from half-court during Friday's Siena/Niagara game to knock down two shots and walk away with $50,000.

Powers was the highest scoring competitor during the season of the Northeastern Fine Jewelry Shooting Stars competition.

He'll walk away with a $1,000 gift certificate to Northeastern if he can't hit two shots, but even when he moved horizontally on the half-court line this afternoon, he had a great deal of success.

"I think luck has a lot to do with it and I guess I'm feeling pretty lucky today," Powers said.

Powers said he never hit a half-court shot for coach Brian Beaury as a Golden Knights player, but did knock one day in high school.

This could be worth heading to downtown Albany tomorrow evening and certainly worth staying in your chair at halftime.

I'm not sure if Mr. Bleser will run the competition again. He did say it should be exciting and he was certainly correct, but I don't think he knew the potential winner would be one of the top collegiate players from this area.

"I don't think they knew that," Powers said.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Back from Boise...with new Sweatshirts

Siena got back into town late Sunday night, some later than others as the team was again split up on their return flight home.

Coach McCaffery wasn't the only Saint who participated in the weekly medial luncheon on Monday. Sophomore Alex Franklin and senior Tay Fisher also dropped by at different times, but both sporting the newest addition to their wardrobe.

Gray ESPN BracketBusters sweatshirts, which Franklin said every player on the team was wearing on Monday.

"It was great to go out there and get a win," said Franklin who set career-highs in points (30) and rebounds (18). "Especially, coming off of two losses. It was great for our confidence. We went against a good team and we really played well."

Franklin admitted the team was a little shocked that after traveling that far and coming off two losses, they came out with a 23-point victory.

"I think so a little bit," said Franklin, who Monday was named MAAC Player of the Week. "We were expecting a lot closer game. They're a great team, but you can't take anything away from us. We came out there and executed and played well. Overall, it was just a good win. It was our concentration to execute the gameplan and the scouting report that helped us win."

Franklin, who said Monday his back is still day-to-day, also said it was the fastest he's seen Coach McCaffery run, when the team was trying to hit their connecting flight from Minneapolis to Albany.

"We were walking and coach just started sprinting," Franklin said. "We looked up and we said 'Is that Coach Mac?' and then we started chasing him."

Fellow sophomore Edwin Ubiles scored 22 against the Broncos on Saturday and over the last three games, has averaged 27.7 points per game.

"Edwin's playing like a monster right now," Franklin said. "He's being very consistent. He's just doing everything for our team right now. It's great that everybody's really clicking, but especially him."

MAAC play resumes Thursday when Canisius travels to Loyola, while Siena will battle Niagara in a first-place showdown on Friday in Albany.

UAlbany/Siena Lacrosse Postponed

Today's game between Siena (2-0) and UAlbany (0-1) will be postponed due to the snow that is currently falling.

The game has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 2 at 7:00.

I'm sure there will be more fans on hand than there would have been this afternoon.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Long Way to go for a Win.....

Siena arrived in Idaho late Thursday night by mountain time standards with the entire team in tact.

Before the team took off, I had the chance to ask Alex Franklin and Tay Fisher about traveling almost all the way across the country to play in the ESPN BracketBuster.

"I've been to California once, but I've never been to Idaho," Franklin said. "The only think I know about Boise State is they have the blue field for football."

"I don't know anything about them," Fisher said. "I just know Idaho is far and it's going to be a long flight. It's going to be a lot of switching flights and going on different flights and that should motivate us even more because it's going to be a long flight back and it's going to be miserable."

The Siena gameplan for this game against the Broncos (10-3, 19-6), at least for the players, has changed since they've lost two games in a row.

"Coming off of two losses, it would be good to go out there and get a win," Franklin said. "If you get a lose out there, the long way back is not going to be good."

"We're approaching it like it's any other game, like it is a league game because right now, we need to win games," Fisher said. "It doesn't matter if it's a non-conference game or not, we need to get each other back on track and I think this game, right here, is a good time for it to happen."

Fisher left me with this thought that couldn't have rung more true.

"A lot of things we need to work on, such as rebounding and going out there with energy and going out and playing with heart, coach can't teach us," Fisher said. "That's something we have to have within ourselves."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What's with the Four-Way Ties?

Ok so we all know about the four-way tie atop the MAAC (Niagara, Rider, Siena Loyola), but how about the four-way tie for third place in the America East.

UAlbany could have separated themselves from the pack with what would have been a dramatic victory last night. The Great Danes lost 81-77 in overtime and with the other results here's how things stack up at the top of the AE.

UMBC 11-2, 19-7*
Hartford 9-5, 15-14
UAlbany 8-6, 13-13
Vermont 8-6, 13-13
Binghamton 8-6, 12-14
Boston U. 8-6, 11-15
*clinched a share of league title

Here are the tied team's remaining games

Boston U.
vs. Hartford
@ UAlbany

@ Binghamton
vs. Boston U.

@ New Hampshire
vs. Maine

vs. UAlbany
@ Stony Brook

From a quick look at the schedules, Vermont has the easiest road to two wins and Boston U. has the toughest, but that's the greatest thing about this league this never know.

The interesting thing about this four-way tie is that these four teams (five, with the addition of Hartford possibly) will end up playing each other in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament in the 4 vs. 5 and 3 vs. 6 matchup.

Like UAlbany coach Will Brown has said though, the key is to get the highest seed possible because the highest remaining seed hosts the conference championship game.

For the Great Danes, winning their final two games is important if they want to avoid possible title games trips to Hartford or Vermont or Binghamton.

All of that doesn't really matter if UMBC wins out and makes it to the title game because then the trophy will go through Baltimore.

Answers to Questions

To answer some questions that I've received about Siena's BracketBuster game, according to the Siena press release, Saturday's game will be shown on the video scoreboard and "other television monitors throughout the facility."

I would assume that would mean the televisions in the luxury boxes and in the hallways of the concourse.

While, I think most people are hesitant because the scoreboard isn't like HD, it is still a huge screen. The only problem may be stiff necks coming out of the arena Saturday night.

The other question I've been seeing and hearing is, will the concession stands be open?

Again, according to the press release, they will be.

Good news for Siena fans. Bad news for concession stand employees unless they're getting paid extra.

Here's the link to Siena's press release.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Siena vs. Boise downtown Albany??

The Times Union Center will broadcast's telecast of the BracketBuster game between the Saints and Broncos following the Albany River Rats game against Lowell on Saturday evening.

Remember since Boise is in Idaho, hence on Mountain time, the Siena game will begin at 10 p.m. eastern time.

Anyone who purchases a ticket to Saturday's Rats game will be allowed to stay for free and anyone who would like to show up just for the Siena game with be charged $5.

“This is a great opportunity for our fans to watch a game they otherwise may not have been able to see,” director of athletics John D’Argenio said.

Concessions stands will stay open through the completion of the Siena game.

I will have more on the game later this week.

The Saints leave for Boise tomorrow afternoon/tomorrow evening. I say this because the team, much like UAlbany last season on their trip to Idaho, is being split in half, but unlike the Great Danes, will arrive in Boise on the same flight.

The Siena players and coaches, I'm sure, are hoping that their trip is not as adventurous as UAlbany's was last season.

Great Danes host UMBC

The University at Albany hosts a big game Wednesday night when UMBC comes to town.

The Retrievers have won six straight games, their second longest winning streak in school history and already have 18 wins.

As UAlbany coach Will Brown said after practice on Tuesday, the league has been pretty crazy this year, but UMBC has been able to avoid that craziness, for the most part.

Brown is hoping his team can help the Retrievers feel some of that by posting their biggest win of the season (next to the two Vermont wins).

UMBC is playing without senior leading scorer Brian Hodges, who has missed the past four games with a bad ankle.

While Brown is preparing his team to see the sixth all-time leading scorer in UMBC school history, he explains here why the Retrievers are 4-0 without their top player.

"They can score," Brown said. "Instead of having five guys that can score, now they have four guys that can score."

While scoring is a positive for UMBC, Brown says this ball control is their biggest strength.

"Probably their biggest strength offensively is they don't turn the ball over," Brown said.

The lack of turnovers has a lot to do with junior point guard Jay Greene, who runs the Retrievers offense and handles the ball a majority of the time.

Maybe it was the amount of media at practice on Tuesday, but Brown broke down slightly and released this nugget, about his predictions for the team before the year, when the question of realistic goals came up for the back-to-back league champs.

"I had thought, coming into this season, if we finished in the top four, that would be pretty good for us," Brown said.

With three games left in the conference schedule, Brown has his team's sights set on second place for now.

America East Standings
UMBC 10-2, 18-7
Hartford 9-3, 15-13
UAlbany 8-5, 13-12
Binghamton 8-6, 12-14
Vermont 7-6, 12-13
Boston U 7-6, 12-15
New Hampshire 4-9, 7-18
Maine 3-9, 7-18
Stony Brook 2-11, 5-20

Monday, February 18, 2008

Saints Lose Another....Predicted Finish

The ball was in the right mans hands with 2.2 seconds tonight and it was just a tough night for Kenny Hasbrouck and the rest of the Siena men's basketball team.

Hasbrouck got a good look and used the window, but was just a little too strong, causing the Saints to fall 73-72 at Draddy Gymnasium.

The only question you could have is how come it took so long to call a timeout after Alex Franklin got control of the rebound with what seemed like six or seven seconds left to go, before dishing to Chris De La Rosa who took a couple steps before the timeout was actually called.

The crazy thing is Siena still controls their own destiny (kind of) because Loyola defeated Rider and even though Niagara won to create a four-way tie, the Saints still have a date with the Purple Eagles on Friday, Feb. 29, the home finale.

With all that in mind and a Fairfield double overtime win over Marist to put the Stags into fifth place, only one game behind the pack, I will not try to predict the order of finish with two games to play in the conference schedule.

On that note, I'm am terrible at predicting things, so take this for what it's worth, but I thought I'd give it a try.

Here are the top six team's remaining schedule (I've included each teams BracketBusters game).

Siena (11-5)
@ Boise St. (ESPN360.COM)
vs. Niagara (Win, I can't see the Saints losing potentially four in a row and I don't see them losing on senior day with what should be a big crowd on hand)
@ Saint Peter's (Win, A lot will be on the line at this point and the Saints pull through)

Niagara (11-5)
@ Appalachian St. (Boone, N.C.)
@ Siena (Loss, The Purple Eagles come up on the short end of a raucous Siena home crowd)
vs. Canisius (Win, No way is Niagara losing to this team twice this season)

Rider (11-5)
@ Cal. St. Northridge (ESPNU)
vs. Saint Peter's (Win, Can you see the Broncs losing three in a row? I can't)
vs. Fairfield (This is turning in to the game to watch on the final day of the league schedule, I'm taking Rider this time)

Loyola (11-5)
vs. UC Davis
vs. Canisus (Here's an interesting game....coming off big wins over Siena and Rider and then playing a non-league do the Greyhounds respond, by winning)
@ Marist (Game No. 2 for the final day of the schedule...I'm going with the Brady and the boys)

Fairfield (10-6)
@ Drexel
vs. Manhattan (First, let me say how did this team poke it's head back into league title talks...the Jaspers are hot and I'm picking them to win)
@ Rider (see above....the Stags are not taking down Thompson & Thompson twice twice)

Marist (9-7)
@ Cleveland State (ESPNU)
vs. Iona (Marist hasn't recovered from the two losses that Siena handed to them in five days, two weeks ago, but they win this game)
vs. Loyola (Brady's bunch ends the season with a big win)

Here's how I've predicted the finish
Siena 13-5 (Siena wins MAAC based on tie-breaker of sweeping Marist, while Rider went 1-1 against the Red Foxes....that tie breaker came after Siena went 2-2 against Niagara/Loyola as did Rider)
Rider 13-5
Loyola 12-6
(Greyhounds finish third because of their season sweep of Siena)
Niagara 12-6
Marist 11-7
Fairfield 10-8

(Here's the scary thought for Siena fans though....Siena's second round matchup will be against #8 seed Manhattan)

Again, this will possibly happen, but it is not probable

Crazy Postgame and Jaspers Come Calling

I couldn't begin to possibly describe what took place after the Loyola/Siena game on Saturday, but I'll try.

The game itself had plenty of storylines before we got back into the media room.

In today's game story, I mentioned how Siena coach Fran McCaffery's wife, Margaret, interjected during the press conference after Fran declined to comment on the timeout that was granted to Loyola which set up their game-tying possession.

Before Fran even took his spot, Mrs. McCaffery made other comments about the officials, one in particular, and how the Saints got "hosed."

That was only part of the uniqueness.

Before that charade, Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos talked about how he took his team to see where the New York Giants practiced at the University at Albany.

(Patsos also played against Albany State when he was at Catholic in Washington D.C. and was friends with New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and Vermont coach Mike Lonergan)

First, let me say Patsos seems like a very dedicated coach, even McCaffery called Patsos' shtick "genuine," which he said before Siena's trip Baltimore and that's why it works, I still was surprised that the Greyhounds head man was almost brought to tears describing how he is trying to show his team how to become winners.

"No one thought the Giants (in the Super Bowl) could win and no one thought we could win either," said Patsos to the media.

While Patsos gets credit for again being very genuine and wearing his heart on sleeve, his team has now beat Siena four consecutive times, so not believeing they could win is a little too much.

His team certainly plays hard for him though.

Some other things that I wished I could have mentioned in today's story were how the Saints did a great job on Greyhounds star Gerald Brown. The senior who averaged 19.1 points coming in to the game only scored nine.

Also, while Loyola has beaten Siena four straight times, they are also the only team Siena didn't beat last year and hasn't beaten this season either, prompting sophomore Edwin Ubiles to say this.

"If we see this team in the playoffs, I think we all would want that," Ubiles said. "I know I would want it. They've beaten us four times in a row, I would love to play them again in the playoffs. No matter when it is, I would definitely love to get a chance to play them again."

Ubiles' 37 points were also something that I didn't get to mention as much as I would have liked to in Sunday's story.

They were the most points for a Siena player since 1994 when Doremus Bennerman dropped 51 in the NIT, also in a loss.

Ubiles scored 16 of the Saints' 32 first half points and all 10 of Siena's points in overtime, but here's what he had to say about that.

"37 doesn't mean anything if we don't get the 'W'," Ubiles said. "The win is definitely more important. I'd rather have no scoring and a win than have high scoring in a loss."

Here's what Patsos said about Ubiles.

"He's 6-7 and can drive it right handed and looks like guys that play in the ACC," Patsos said.

Here's what Loyola's head man said about beating Siena.

"It's a real honor to beat the best team in the league," Patsos said. "I've said all along while we're trying to build our program that the program you go after to emulate is Siena. Just like at Maryland, I thought Duke was the program, I think here Siena is. They're classy, great fans, great players, they play an exciting style and right now they're one game out of first (which wasn't true because as we would learn later Rider also lost)."

Patsos said that he still thinks Siena is the best team in the league, but that this is the best team he's ever coached.

"I still think Siena's the best team in the league overall," Patsos said. "I think (Rider's) Jason Thompson's the best player and (Niagara's) Charron Fisher scares me to death because he had 76 points in two games (against us), but we have a good team."

The Saints got bailed out by Fairfield who defeated Rider on Saturday to keep those two teams tied atop the league standings with 11-4 records, but with Loyola and Niagara both winning and now at 10-5, Siena needs to defeat Manhattan on Monday.

Luckily for Siena, the Jaspers just defeated Marist on Friday night by 21, so they shouldn't be taking them lightly. It will be a similar situation to when Siena killed Canisius the first time around and were set to play them one week later in a possible trap game, but the Golden Griffins defeated Niagara only days earlier and Siena stayed focused and won big.

Let's see if that will happen again. The game will be on SNY (channel 66 on Time Warner Cable) for those of you not making the Presidents Day trip to Riverdale.

Again, I hate to end on a sour note, but here's reaction from both sides on the game-changing three by Greg Manning at the end of regulation.

"We talked about it in the timeout, we wanted to guard the three-point line," Ubiles said. "They get a lay-up, they get a lay-up. We're still up one and we've got the ball. The guy drove and everybody's tendencies when somebody drives wide open to the basket is to help."

"Greg makes those all the time at the end of practice," Patsos said.

This was much bigger than practice Jimmy.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Duell's Clutch, Fran on JT and BracketBust

Josh Duell hit clearly the biggest shot if the Sunday's victory over Rider. Duell, not only hit that shot but he scored eight of the Saints final 10 points in the game.

On Monday at his weekly media luncheon, coach Fran McCaffery reflected on Duell's performance.

"He was unbelievable down the stretch," McCaffery said. "The two three's and the drive. He sort of a perfect compliment to the other four guys who start and I think he's very comfortable now in his role. I'd like to get him to shoot more actually."

While, co-captain Kenny Hasbrouck wasn't awarded with the Player of the Week honors in the MAAC this week (that honor went to Charron Fisher and all I'll say about it is without Hasbrouck the Saints don't Friday or Sunday), McCaffery had high regards for his junior guard on Monday.

"He's clearly one of the best players in the league," McCaffery said. "His shot was a little bit off. I think part of that can be attributed to the fact that he has some nagging injuries that he's seem to overcome. To see him take the game over like he did on Friday night, that was good to see. If you look at the remainder of the schedule or you're in a tight game in the conference tournament, that's what you need. You need your stars to take games over down the stretch."

McCaffery put it a little more simply - at least about Friday's game in Poughkeepsie.

"Kenny doesn't go for 35 Friday night, we don't win," McCaffery said.

Jason Thompson again proved that he is not only the Player of the Year in the MAAC, but a sure NBA draft pick, going for 26 points and a school record 24 rebounds.

With two games against Thompson and the Broncs in the last 10 days, McCaffery said all that he's thought about Thompson (he tried recruiting the 6-11 forward while at UNC-Greensboro) is still true.

"I see a guy who's amazingly consistent," said McCaffery, who coached big men LaPhonso Ellis, Monty Williams, Pat Garrity, Troy Murphy and Keith Tower while at Norte Dame as an assistant.

"This guys a pro," McCaffery said. "If you can't watch him play and see tell that he's a pro, you've got something wrong with your eyes. What else does he have to do?"

Not how I like to end a blog entry, but I must do so on a negative note.

Siena was hoping for good news today regarding their BracketBuster game against Boise State, but instead they found out that the game will be on, not a real channel.

In fact, it may be harder to find the game here on television than if it weren't on the ESPN family of networks and could potentially be picked up by a local sponsor (I.E. Loyola or Memphis games).

It's a tough way for the school to spend over $20,000, especially when they thought they would get what would act as a two-hour commercial for the school.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Siena Bucks Broncs

What a win for the Saints. Josh Duell's shot with 1.3 seconds remaining not only brought Siena and Rider to a level ground 14 games into the league schedule with identical 11-3 records, but it kept hope alive for a regular season conference crown.

Here are some pictures from today's game from our sister paper, The Trentonian.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Hasbrouck's Statement Game

Kenny Hasbrouck just had the best game I've ever witnessed him have and was one point shy of tying his career-high.

Hasbrouck's 35 points, all clutch, on 14-of-21 shooting, helped the Saints win their second straight game over Marist in five days and first in Poughkeepsie since the 2002-03 season.

Here I sit at some rest stop on the New York State Thurway because someone dropped the ball at Marist and no, I'm not talking about the game. The internet connections were spotty at best and so I was forced to drive 30 miles or what felt like 600 to the closest thurway for wireless internet.

For my first trip to the McCann Center, it will probably be the best. Sold-out, 3,200 fans going nuts on national television and Siena sent three buses of their own down for the game.

It was one of those games that gave me knots in my stomach for probably the final seven minutes of regulation, not to mention the overtime.....and I didn't even care who won, so I can imagine what fans were going through.

Everybody played a role in tonight's win, which will atone for the way they played on national television against Rider. Franklin scores 10, Duell d's up on Benjamin and Stilphen. Hasbrouck, haven't we talked about him enough, Moore made a couple huge shots and so did Fisher. Then there's Cory Magee who played so big minutes in overtime once Duell and Franklin had fouled out.

Oh and how about Ubiles, who scored 21 and made some big jumpers in a return to his Poughkeepsie stomping grounds.

The only other thing you could have asked for was maybe one of the teams to get a shot off in the final 16 seconds. Other than that, wow.

Marist lost both games by a combined 13 points and didn't have one of their best players, Louie McCroskey, who's out for most likely the remainder of the season with a fractured foot.

As it may pain Saints fans to hear me say, I would have liked to see Louie play, but just because I did and still do follow Syracuse basketball.

I give it up to the Marist fans. For almost all of the game, a few cheers aside, I thought they did an excellent job cheering on their team and proving that their gym is the toughest place to play in the MAAC.

How about Jay Gavin too. The kid scores 19 points and hung in there like an upperclassman, minus the turnover on the Red Foxes' final possession in overtime.

What a game!!

I'm going to finish my drive home now. I think my ears are still ringing.

Here are the up to date MAAC Standings (which are actually wrong right now on the MAAC site because they gave tonight's win to Marist)
Rider 11-2, 18-6
Siena 10-3, 15-8
Loyola 9-4, 14-11
Niagara 8-5, 14-8
Marist 8-5, 14-10
Fairfield 7-6, 9-14
Iona 5-7, 9-15
Canisius 2-10, 4-18
Manhattan 2-11, 8-15
Saint Peter's 2-11, 5-18

UAlbany's Time To Win......Now

University at Albany coach Will Brown said Friday that he's emphasizing a need to win now.

"I think our seniors are starting to understand that because we're getting to the end of the schedule and one of these days they're not going to be wearing that uniform again," Brown said. "I also think that a couple of our freshman are starting to figure it out a little bit."

On Saturday, the Great Danes will be tested when Hartford comes to town. Both teams have 6-4 records in America East play, but UAlbany won the previous matchup in West Hartford earlier this season.

In that game back on Jan. 19, the Great Danes jumped out early and led 31-18 at the half before clinging on to a 10-point, 73-63, road win.

"It was one of the days where the right Albany team showed up," senior guard Jon Iati said. "The last two games, the good Albany team has shown up and hopefully, in this game coming up that same team will show up."

Hartford has changed up their play a little bit, going with a smaller lineup that includes freshman Morgan Sabia, who hit the game-winning 3-pointer against Maine.

Brown says that the Hawks will try to spread his team out, but it was a good preparation for his team to have played a similar New Hampshire team just two days ago.

"We can't get extended, we have to defend dribble penatration and we have to defend the 3-point line," Brown said. "We have similar keys to the UNH game, the difference is we prepared for (Warren) McLendon to play a lot against us."

McLendon, who has seen his playing time reduce slightly, scored 19 points in the first meeting between these two teams and Brown said his team prepared for McLendon to play and also for him not to play as much as he did in the first matchup.

Brown also said he hasn't returned the team's practice gear yet, which he took a few games ago because he didn't feel they deserved to wear the Albany name until they turned their play around.

"I think these guys are anxiously awaiting for me to give them their practice gear, so I'm just keeping them off-balance a little bit," Brown said.

The Great Danes are trying to finish off a three-game homestand with a third win, but said there were no planned surprises after they pulled out a quote from Mike Christensen on Wednesday night to psych the team up for the win over New Hampshire and last Saturday, rode the Big Purple Growl to a big win over Stony Brook.

"I'm sure the coaches have something up their sleeves," junior forward Brian Connelly said. "I hope they do because it worked last time."

"Hopefully, we'll be up for this game," added Iati. "We need to be up for every game, no matter if someone makes a quote in the paper."

Brown said he won't rely on anything like he did on Wednesday though, hoping his team will be able to get fired up just because it's a big game.

"If we have to get these guys pumped up for tomorrow, we haven't progressed as much as I think we've progressed in the past two weeks," Brown said. "I think these guys understand that this is a big game. We've come out with great energy the past couple of games. That's one of the reasons we won at Hartford, our energy early was tremendous. I expect our energy will be good tomorrow."

Here are the up to date America East standings.
UMBC 8-2, 16-7
Vermont 7-3, 12-10
UAlbany 6-4, 11-11
Hartford 6-4, 12-13
Binghamton 6-4, 10-12
Boston University 4-5, 7-14
New Hampshire 4-6, 7-15
Maine 2-7, 6-16
Stony Brook 1-9, 4-18

Thursday, February 7, 2008

UAlbany Reads & Reacts and BracketBusters

The Great Danes rallied around a quote from New Hampshire senior forward Mike Christensen and got a good game from pretty much everyone who played to get a solid 80-59 America East victory.

Christensen said something to the effect of the five players the Wildcats had on the floor during their Jan. 3 win, earlier this year in Durham, N.H., were better than the five Great Danes players.

The UAlbany players found the quote taped on their lockers before Wednesday's game and that combined with the fact they felt they owed New Hampshire some revenge from the previous game was all they needed.

"I think our guys had some motivation as well because after the game, our guys saw the quote from Mike Christensen saying (their) five are better than (our) five," UAlbany coach Will Brown said.

The Great Danes held Christensen, New Hampshire's second leading scorer, to zero points on 0-for-3 shooting.

"We really didn't need any more motivation that that," senior forward Brent Wilson said. "We felt like we owed them one."

Wilson was moved from his starters position to the bench and here was his reaction after he scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

"I can kind of sit back and get a feel for the game before I get into it," Wilson said. "That can be very beneficial, I think, personally. I can kind of see, in what areas, I can help the team and go from there."

UAlbany also got a good game from freshman guard Tim Ambrose. Here's what Coach Brown had to say about Ambrose, who added 14 points Wednesday night.

"He's trying his best to be a student of the game. Tim's always had all the natural ability in the world and he's come from a program (Our Savior New American - the same school that Jamar Wilson went too) that has tons of Division I players every year and a lot of times he's been able to go out and just play and not be held accountable defensively...He really wants to be a very good player at this level and there's no reason why he can't be. I think he hit a lull midway through the year, practice-wise. I think he was getting frustrated and he was practicing like our team was playing. He was working, but not really with a sense of urgency. In the past couple of weeks, he's been practicing like it's a game and I think that's helped him a lot too. He's getting more opportunities now, but he's getting more opportunities now because he's earned them."

Amrbose also helps out on the glass, getting six rebounds on a night when the Great Danes dominated their opponent in that category and while he's listed at 6-feet (Brown said his NYS license says 6-foot-2, but he think Ambrose is more like 5-11), his leaping ability allows him to get to loose balls off the glass.

UAlbany has been scheduled to take on Canisius (4-18) in the BracketBusters event on the road on Saturday, Feb. 23.

I'll try to save everyone reading this the long story and some of the confusion about how Coach Brown wasn't very happy with the draw on Tuesday, saying that the Golden Griffins weren't one of the five teams he submitted, when on Wednesday it was confirmed that indeed, Canisius was on the UAlbany list.

I was able to ask Canisius coach Tom Parrotta about the matchup, which will be the first meeting between the two schools, on the MAAC conference call Wednesday morning.

Here's what Parrotta said.

"I don't know much about them. I know Will from our assistant days. Let's face it, every team we play will be a challenge for us, but I do like the idea of playing them on our floor."

Parrotta may be on to something because his team is 0-11 on the road this season, while faring 4-7 at the Koessler Athletic Center.

Siena has handled Canisius twice this year and I think UAlbany should do the same, but then again, that's why they play the game.

UAlbany will look to end their three-game homestand with a third consecutive win on Saturday against Hartford.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Duell and Franklin will start vs. Marist

Moments before tip here in Albany in a second place showdown between Marist and Siena and Josh Duell and Alex Franklin will replace Tay Fisher and Ryan Rossiter in the starting lineup.

Coach Fran McCaffery might be looking for a spark since the Saints have started slowly in their past three games.

Siena Bound for Boise

According to Siena's web site and an ESPN press release, the Saints have been chosen for a nationally televised game in the ESPN BracketBusters event on Saturday, Feb. 23.

Siena (13-8) will take on Boise State (16-5) out of the Western Athletic Conference at Taco Bell Arena with the tip-time and actual ESPN network to be determined at a later date.

This is the same Broncos team that played UAlbany in last year's BracketBusters game, causing all sorts of travel headaches for the Great Danes.

Boise State also played UAlbany this season, beating them on both occasions.

"It's exciting for us, because we get to play another nationally televised game against a quality opponent," Siena coach Fran McCaffery said. "It's great for our fans because it strengthens our non-league home schedule for next year."

Like Boise State did this season with UAlbany, the Broncos will return the trip to Albany next year.

The field of 100 potential BracketBuster teams was narrowed to 28 today, for televised purposes and the remaining 72, which includes UAlbany, will be paired up next week.

Here are the three televised MAAC matchups.
Marist at Cleveland State
Siena at Boise State
Rider at Cal State Northridge

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Broncs Buck Saints

Siena was overwhelmed by Rider in the first half and had too tough of a time digging themselves out in the second.

I was really impressed by Rider’s Jason Thompson. 23 points and 21 rebounds doesn’t even begin to explain the kind of affect, the potential NBA player had on the game.

He was all over the place and really no one on Siena could guard him.

Here are some other postgame reactions from Saturday afternoon’s game that were not included in Sunday’s game story.

Siena sophomore Alex Franklin on Rider’s Jason Thompson
"He definitely lived up to his hype. We just have to come out next time we play them and not let him do that."

Siena junior Josh Duell on guarding Jason Thompson
"Anything I was doing, he was countering and that’s the one thing that makes him such a great player."

Franklin on the Siena’s slow starts the past three games
"We’re not coming out with enough focus or intensity. If we come out with the focus that we played in the second half, it would have been a totally different game."

Duell on Jason Thompson’s overall game
"He’s so talented, he can do everything. The one thing about his game that’s 10 times better than last year is he’s more physical."

Siena coach Fran McCaffery on how Jason Thompson hurt Siena a crucial moments
"He’s a physical presence, he’s going to get his rebounds. He got some in a couple key situations when we could have used one. We have trouble matching up with a guy that size."

Rider coach Tommy Dempsey on Mike Ringgold’s basket after Siena cut the lead to 79-71
"It was a huge play. He made a great pump-fake and then flipped it up high off the glass and I think that was the basket that settled us."

Dempsey on Rider’s last loss – 10 games ago to Marist at home
"That was a defining moment in our season and from that point on, I think we’ve played much more like the team we expected to be."

Jason Thompson on one of Rider’s keys to the game
"I knew they didn’t have any size inside so that was one of the game keys, trying to get the ball to me inside."

The Saints are watching game film Saturday evening and even though tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday, don’t expect the Siena players to be on the couch. They will be practicing in earnest for Monday’s HUGE game against Marist.