Here are some postgame remarks from the two teams from their walk-throughs early on Monday.
"They’re always loose," said Siena coach Fran McCaffery after his team's session. "I think that’s just the way they are and the way I am."
McCaffery and his club better be ready to roll because they are going up against a potential NBA draft pick in Jason Thompson, the senior Player of the Year from Rider.Thompson averages 20.5 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.
"Anytime you have a player of that caliber, I start there," McCaffery said. "We have to defend him."McCaffery won't have to deal with Jason's brother
, sophomore Ryan Thompson is out due to a concussion he suffered Friday against Canisus, but others have stepped up.
"You look at that and say, wow, how are they going to win without him," McCaffery said. "Look at what Kamron Warner did last night, what Matt Griffin did and that’s what happens in situations like this, somebody else steps up."The Saints were in this position last season in Bridgeport
. Siena lost to Niagara and they're hoping for a different fate this time around.
"Everybody’s been through it, but we lost last time, so everybody know the mistakes they made for that game and what we have to do this time around," junior Kenny Hasbrouck said.If the Saints win tonight, they will play in the NCAA Tournament,
something junior Josh Duell has done before as a member of Vermont.
"We’re pretty experienced in that sense because we were here last year," said Duell referencing the team's postseason experience. "We’re in the home building tonight, we’ve got a lot of people coming out to support us, Rider’s going to have a good crowd, so it should be a good atmosphere."
Emotions were what Duell said needed to be the most under control."The team that really focuses and bears down is the team usually wins these types of games,"
Duell said. "That’s what we’re going to try and do, play like it’s any other game."
Tonight is more than just a championship game, it's also Tay Fisher's 22nd birthday.
The Saints lone senior, Fisher took last year's loss in the championship hard and this is his last chance to dance.
"Usually it falls a couple days before," said Fisher of his birthday falling on the MAAC Championship game. "I’ve had some disturbing birthdays because we end up losing and that ends up hurting. This year, for it to land on my birthday, the championship game, it’s a big feeling because I know my team is going to try their best."Siena's Alex Franklin sat in a corner of the team's locker room, bouncing and ready to go.
"We’re playing like it’s the last game of the year," Franklin said. "It’s the best situation to be in, playing in front of the home crowd, the top two seeds playing. It’s going to be a battle."
Franklin said he would try to get some rest before tip-time.
Rider coach Tommy Dempsey's thoughts on his first MAAC title game.
"I’m excited, but more than anything just focused," Dempsey said. "You look back at these thing when they’re over, but when you’re right in the middle of them you try to stay focused and prepare your team."
That's how I'll leave you. We're now less than three hours away from game time. I'm going to go move my car, get something to eat and get ready for what should be a great finish to an excellent MAAC season.