Friday, August 29, 2008

Back from Italy...

The Siena team bus rolled onto campus just before 7 p.m. ending a two-week trip overseas for the Saints.

Coach Fran McCaffery said this team is now a veteran one - scary news for the rest of the MAAC if the Saints will be better than last season.

Here are some quotes from some of the players I caught up with. Also, look for my story in Saturday's edition.

On the trip
“It was fun,” said senior Kenny Hasbrouck, who says he has something like 600 pictures. “It was a good experience.”

On seeing the Vatican
“It was humongous,” Hasbrouck said.

On the five games
“The competition was excellent,” McCaffery said. “I was very pleased with that. I was concerned about that before we left.”

On the teams trips
“They played extremely hard every possession,” McCaffery said. “The one game we lost, we had a wake-up call 14 hours before tip-off. We were on our feet all day and still bused two hours and played extremely hard. I think that says a lot about the character of this team. This is no longer a young team. This is an experienced team and we’ll blend in with the three rookies that get here this weekend.”

On Rossiter
“His numbers were phenomenal,” McCaffery said. “You look at his rebounding and point totals. We were going to him in key situations.”

On Kyle Hines - a McCaffery player at UNC Greensboro, who played for the team that beat Siena, Basket Veroli
“Kyle’s just a very special player,” McCaffery said...“It was great to see him and he was one of my favorite players that I ever coached,” McCaffery said. “He’s special and I really wish him well.”

On being seasoned
“Being a sophomore now, I feel a lot more mature,” Jackson said. “I’m just trying to work hard on my game and be a big part of this team this year.”

On the big 36-point night
“I didn’t even know if I was going to start that game,” Jackson said. “Coach told me I was starting and I played the whole game. He was calling plays for me and said just go, keep attacking.”

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Look Danes....

I did this back in May, but here we go again as the revolving door continues to turn for the UAlbany men's basketball team.

Here is a list of players who have been in the program either last season or the new incoming players for this year.

Players in Bold will be back for the 2008-09 season (Will Harris isn't eligible as he will have to sit out after transferring from a Division I institution.

1 Billy Allen, So. - DNP Injury
2 Logan Aronhalt - incoming freshman
3 Josh Martin - dismissed from program
5 Jerel Hastings, Sr. - started 22 gm, 4.9 pts. and 3.2 reb.
11 Reid Anderson - transferred out
11 Anthony Raffa - incoming freshman
12 Rob Moores - transferred out
12 Scotty McRae - transfer Eastern Wyoming College
14 Jon Iati - graduating senior
21 Brian Lillis - graduating senior
21 Michael Johnson - transfer from Blinn College
23 Tim Ambrose, rs-So. - 7.2 pts/gm, 24 points vs. Duke
24 Jake Lindfors - incoming freshman
32 Louis Barraza - soph. transfer from Yavapai College
33 Brian Connelly, Sr. - started all 30 gm, 10.1 pts, 5.3 reb
34 Brent Wilson - graduating senior
42 Jimmie Covington, Sr. - started 15 games, 1.7 pts/gm
54 Brett Gifford, Jr. - started four games, 2.1 pts/gm
55 Al Turley, So. - transferred out
xx Will Harris - transfer from Virginia

I, for one, am excited to see the Danes this season. While, they will have much less cohesion that last year (Remember Iati, Wilson and Lillis all played in two NCAA Tournaments - Iati and Wilson scored 1,000 career points and Lillis scored 483 during his senior season) they should be very exciting.

It was good to see Tim Ambrose come alive in some games last year (the Duke game comes right to mind).

I think the three incoming freshman will be very talented and the transfers should bring some experience and practicing with Harris - an ACC transfer - will help the team as well.

But here's my projected starting five....

G Ambrose (6-0)
G Johnson(6-1)
C Covington (6-7)
F Connelly (6-8)
F Hastings (6-5)

Off the Bench:
Raffa (6-1)
Aaronhalt (6-4)
Barraza (6-5)
Allen (6-6)
McRae (6-8)
Lindfors (6-9)
Gifford (6-11)

The starting five combined for fewer than 24 points per game (23.9) and junior Brett Gifford is the only player coming off of my mythical bench, who suited up last season.

The great thing though for UAlbany is that from just looking at that bench I've assembled, I think all of those guys will vye for quality minutes as the season progresses.

It could make for a rough beginning, against Villanova and DePaul, but I think the future is promising.

If you're a Great Danes fan though, you just have to hope that players leaving doesn't become a growing trend.

UAlbany adds Will Harris

So much for the worst kept secret of the last month.

Today, Will Harris, a Virginia transfer officially is a Great Dane.

I saw Will in the parking lot with Jimmie Covington as I was arriving this evening to talk to the football players.

Here's what UAlbany coach Will Brown said about adding Harris....

“We are very excited to add Will Harris to our program,” Brown said. “Will brings ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) experience to our program and he is a former top 100 player nationally coming out of high school. We expect him to be a major impact player in our conference, as he will be a matchup problem with his ability to play multiple positions. More importantly, Will is an outstanding individual who has enjoyed success in the classroom and on the court.”

Harris also spent time at Redemption Christian Academy in Troy.

I'll know I said I'd have more on this later last week, when Al Turley announced he was leaving, but now that it's official I will have more tonight after I write my UAlbany football story.

Also, for those of you out there who will be attending the game on Saturday at UMass, it will be my first UAlbany football game. Needless to say, I'm excited, especially since the Minutemen are ranked No. 5 in the country.

Let me know what to expect and who will have the best tailgate.

Siena finishes up Italy Trip

The Saints ended up their five-game overseas tour with a victory on Thursday.

Their trip wraps up this weekend.

I wasn't able to post anything yesterday as I was out of town, moving my sister back into to school in Rochester.

Siena lost 87-68 to Class A-2 Basket Veroli on Wednesday, but turned around in a MAAC-type two games in two days to defeat Stella Azzurra 88-69 in Rome on Thursday.

Here some thoughts on Thursday's game from our overseas Siena beat writer, Jack McCaffery.

The starting five was a little different today as Ryan Rossiter, Cory Magee, Josh Duell, Clarence Jackson and Edwin Ubiles.

"Coach Mac just wanted to mix some things up," Rossiter said. "This is more of an exhibition to see what we have for this upcoming regular season, and to get back to where we were last season a maybe a little further.

Also of note, Siena will host a Sneak Preview from 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 22 in downtown Albany.

Here's the rest of the release.

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. – The Siena College men's and women's basketball programs will host the annual Siena Sneak Preview from 5:30-7 p.m. Monday, September 22 at Times Union Center in Albany.

Head coaches Fran McCaffery and Gina Castelli will be on hand to discuss the upcoming season. Players from the men's and women's teams will be in attendance to meet with fans as well.

The evening will feature entertainment and complimentary food and beverages. The event will be open to the public and held inside the Arena. Season ticket information will be available, with representatives on hand to discuss seating options. Fans may enter through the Pearl Street entrance.

Those wishing to attend the Sneak Preview are asked to RSVP Katelyn Dooley via e-mail at or by phone at 518-782-6769.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Siena's comeback in Siena

The Saints pull one out tonight, defeating Virtus Siena 91-89.

Down five, Siena (the team from Loudonville) got five points from Alex Franklin in the game's final 28 seconds, including the game-winning free-throws after he rebounded a free throw miss from Kenny Hasbrouck to remain undefeated (3-0) on their five-game trip.

Hasbrouck made the first of his free throws to tie the game at 89, but missed the second. Franklin got the rebound and was fouled with three seconds to go. His two free throws gave the Saints the win and capped a 18-point, 12-rebound night.

Edwin Ubiles finished with 26 points, including a big three-pointer late that cut the lead to 87-86.

Some other notes from Jack McCaffery....

It was a good opponent, similar in talent and style to the team in San Marino

It was a rough game. Alex Franklin had to be helped off at one point after getting kneed in the hip. Ryan Rossiter was slammed to the ground and hit his head and had to leave the game. Both are fine and returned - but that's the way the game was played

Rossiter is becoming difficult to keep out of the game ...

Be sure to pick up tomorrow's paper to see the full game story and notes...

Catching up with former CCHS star Joe Mahoney

I caught up with former Catholic Central star and Troy native Joe Mahoney last week. Joe is playing Class A ball in the Baltimore organization for the Delmarva (Md.) Shorebirds. Here is the story that ran on Monday (8/25).

Joe Mahoney can't remember missing many games throughout high school and college.

The Catholic Central graduate started all but five games during his three-year career at the University of Richmond.

Last season, Mahoney played in 65 of 76 games for the Aberdeen IronBirds in the New York-Penn League and hit .269.

For the last month or so, Mahoney, who is now playing for the Delmarva Shorebirds (Long Season Single A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles), has been dealing with what he calls the "worst injury," time-wise he's ever had to deal with.

Mahoney has been suffering with a severely pulled quad muscle on his right side that extends all the way up to his hip flexor.

"That has put a damper on the year," said Mahoney on Friday from Hagerstown, Md., where the Shorebirds were in the middle of a five-game set with the Suns.

Mahoney says the injury, for which he has to wear a wrap from his waist to his knee cap if he's going to play, "severely limits what I can do."

The injury gives him pain at the plate when, as a left-handed hitter, he tries to transfer his weight forward. It also pains him to run and move around extensively in the field.

Still, Mahoney has not been put on the disabled list and has tried to fight through the pain. He's been relegated to designated hitter roles and playing his usual spot at first base every couple of days or in an emergency role.

"It's bound to happen," said Mahoney about the possibility of injuries occurring. "I didn't want it to happen this year. I think my body just wasn't ready for the first full season."

Mahoney isn't concerned about the injury over the long-term, but is anticipating beginning the offseason, so he can get things right again.

"The hitting instructor from the Orioles has told me to just let the injury heal," Mahoney said.

Mahoney has had to compensate due to the injury and in doing so he has changed his swing slightly and that has led to some dry spells at that plate.

Mahoney is batting just .223 coming in to the weekend with 22 doubles, seven home runs and 61 runs batted in for Delmarva.

"I'm hitting real well with runners in scoring position and I'm driving in runs," said Mahoney, who is second on the team in RBI. "My average is down though and I don't think I've hit a home run since the injury occurred."

While Mahoney is in his first full season of professional baseball, many of the players he played with last year in Aberdeen are now with him in Delmarva and they has made times - both good and bad, a little bit better.

"We've grown to be real good friends and I've gotten to know everyone pretty well," Mahoney said.

The camaraderie has also helped while Mahoney has been dealing with the injury.

"Everyone has been very supportive while I've been hurt," Mahoney said.

The Shorebirds play in the South Atlantic League, where the first place teams from the first half and the second half of the season, make the playoffs.

Delmarva finished 2½ games out of first place during the first half of the season (the first 69 games) and are currently in third place as the second half nears an end.

While the team would actually be closer to first if they combined the two records, Mahoney realizes that you can't think like that.

"We had a pretty good first half," Mahoney said. "Now, we're in the same spot and we might not make the playoffs, but you try not to look at it like that because you can't control the teams in front of you in the standings."

The long stretches have been broken up when some of Mahoney's family can make the six-hour trip south to see some of his games.

As for his highlights of the season, it's been the game-winning hits - like Aug. 5, when the 6-foot-7, 255-pound Mahoney drove in the go-ahead run at Appalachian Power Park, the home of the West Virginia Power, in a 4-3 victory.

Mahoney just hopes he doesn't keep missing those opportunities to succeed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Siena Notes from second game

Here are some notes that I don't think we had room for in today's paper.

Jack McCaffery
For The Record

SAMMARINESE, San Marino — Siena may have taken only a one-point lead into the final quarter of a game against Fulgor Libertas Friday night, but it also took something just as important into those final 10 minutes: The knowledge that Kenny Hasbrouck hadn't yet stirred.

Haunted by two fouls in the first two minutes, then by a third in the first minute of the second half, Hasbrouck spent most of the game on the bench, watching Clarence Jackson respond with a game-high 22 points. But with the game and the emotions tight in the fourth quarter, Hasbrouck scored nine points to help solidify a 103-92 victory.

"I am very confident that I can be the go-to guy in that situation," said the Saints' captain, who finished with 14 points. "It seemed like they (the officials) were taking me out in the first half. They didn't let me play. So I was just ready to go off. And I found my time."

As per the blueprint for their five-game trip, all of the Saints receive playing time, resulting in multiple lineup combinations. Friday, Siena was able to silence Fulgor Libertas with a three-guard set in the fourth quarter, with Hasbrouck turning unstoppable along the baseline.

"The team that really got the lead for us was Hasbrouck, (Ryan) Rossiter, Jackson, (Ronald) Moore and (Alex) Franklin," said associate head coach Mitch Buonaguro, who took control in the fourth quarter after head coach Fran McCaffery was ejected in a dispute with the officials. "And Kenny did a great job of getting the players going."

Stepping In: To Buonaguro, taking over for the head coach on an excursion through Italy was nothing new. As an assistant to Rollie Massimino at Cleveland State, Buonaguro was thrust into a similar situation and guided the Vikings to their only victory on their 10-game trip.

"He was thrown out of the last game on the trip — so I was ready for this," Buonaguro said, smiling. "But, no. Fran saw the game turning with the officiating and he got the guys going. So I just called some plays and it was fun."

Notes: After missing the Saints' game in Castellanza with a pulled groin, Josh Duell started Friday night. He did not score, but he contributed seven rebounds, two in the fourth quarter ... For the second consecutive game, Ryan Rossiter both led the Saints in rebounding — he had nine — and knocked down a three-point jumper. Friday, that shot was a fourth-quarter dagger to Libertas. "Rossiter played well," Buonaguro said ... Erik Harris, who had been hobbled since Selection Sunday with an ankle injury, played about four first-half minutes Friday and returned to the bench. Saints coach Fran McCaffery said he was just being cautious and that Harris was not re-injured.

Siena wins again.....

Here's the second game story from Jack that ran it today's paper.

Jack McCaffery
For The Record

SAMMARINESE, San Marino — In a 103-92 victory Friday night over Fulgor Libertas, the Siena basketball team was able to cross two entries off its bucket list of must-do's on its five-game trip to Italy.

The Saints learned that they could win in a pressurized environment against a veteran, professional international opponent. And they confirmed that sophomore guard Clarence Jackson can be a dangerous offensive weapon.

With Kenny Hasbrouck in quick foul trouble in both halves, Jackson played approximately 25 minutes and scored a game-high 22 points — 18 in the first half. He shot 7-for-12 from the floor, 3-for-6 behind the international 3-point stripe and 5-for-6 from the line, and was vital to the Saints' survival in a heated, physical affair.

A significantly older and taller opponent than the Saints faced in their Italy opener in Castellanza, Fulgor Libertas played rugged defense, particularly inside. When Siena coach Fran McCaffery loudly protested the Libertas style, he was ejected from the game with 2:57 left in the third quarter. Associate head coach Mitch Buonaguro coached the remainder of the game.

"I've coached in enough games both in the United States and overseas to know when the game is out of control," McCaffery said. "And my responsibility is to be concerned with the health and welfare of our players, first and foremost. I will always fight for that, no matter what."

The Saints led, 76-75, after three quarters, but rode the offense of Hasbrouck and the defensive rebounding of Ryan Rossiter to victory in the final 10 minutes.

Hasbrouck saved nine of his 14 points for the fourth quarter. Rossiter had four fourth-quarter defensive rebounds, each one important to the limiting of Libertas opportunities.

Alex Franklin scored 20 points and Edwin Ubiles had 15. Ronald Moore contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds — and sufficient point-guard steadiness to keep the Saints steady against a swarming Libertas defense. But it was the injection of offense from Jackson — and some defense and rebounding, too — that was the difference as the Saints improved to 2-0 in the exhibition tour.

"I just tried to come into the game and bring energy," Jackson said. "I wanted to get some things going. The one thing I want to work on is my defense. And tonight I was able to stay with my man, coming off screens and things like that. When the other team started to come at me, I was able to kick it to some other players for some buckets."

With Tay Fisher graduated, Jackson is ticketed for regular time in the Saints backcourt rotation. Friday, Jackson was consistent behind the stripe, but also gave the Saints an additional around-the-basket scoring threat.

"I can shoot the three, but I can do other things, like taking the ball off the dribble," Jackson said. "Whatever I can do to help the team win, that's what I'll do."

With Hasbrouck whistled for two quick fouls, the Saints received strong production out of a Ubiles-Jackson backcourt and led, 28-27, after the first quarter. In that first 10 minutes, Jackson had nine points, two rebounds and an assist.

"Tonight, Clarence scored the ball and limited his mistakes," McCaffery said. "In our first game, he scored extremely well but had five turnovers. Tonight, he scored the ball, but he also stole the ball, rebounded the ball and didn't turn it over. And that's the real Clarence Jackson."

The Saints needed a Ubiles dunk on an alley-oop feed from Moore at the first-half buzzer to take a 53-51 lead. Jackson shot 5-for-8 in the first half.

The game remained tight until Hasbrouck took over in the fourth quarter, which the Saints won, 27-17.

"Kenny didn't play 18 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble," McCaffery said. "But he settled us down in the second half. And Ronald Moore had a great game, with Kenny out with foul trouble. So I thought all in all, we got good play from a lot of people."

The Saints received that production in a difficult environment.

"That's what we expected," Moore said. "But we just have to play through it. Tonight, we did. Guys stayed calm. I tried to be the floor general and just bring us home. Compared to first team we played, this team had more size and better talent. And just being over here and playing in games like this is only going to make us better in the regular season."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Checking in with UAlbany's Mike Konstanty

UAlbany baseball player Mike Konstanty became the sixth player ever to be drafted during this past year's draft.

Last week, I caught up with Konstanty, who is playing in Billings, Mont., for the Billings Mustangs, a Cincinnati Reds Class A affiliate.

Here's the story that ran on Monday, Aug. 18.

Andrew Santillo
The Record

It didn't take long for Mike Konstanty to make history as a professional baseball player.

Fifteen games into his career, Konstanty, the sixth player from the University at Albany to ever be drafted, hit a fifth inning grand slam off of Great Falls left-hander Wilmer Rojas.

The home run, Konstanty's second of the year made the score 9-1 in favor of his team, the Billings Mustangs (Class A Short Season).

It will also be a home run that people in Billings, Mt., will remember for a while because it was the first home run ever to be hit at Dehler Park, the Mustangs new $12.5 million stadium for the 2008 season.

"It was opening night and it was a big night out there," said Konstanty.

The Mustangs had played their first 60 seasons at Cobb Field, which was demolished soon after the 2007 season ended, so that Dehler Park could be formed.

Then, Billings opened with 14 games on the road, so that Dehler's finishing touches could be completed.

It only took five innings though, before Konstanty made a memory that will surely last for quite some time.

"I didn't think too much until after, then it hit me," Konstanty said. "It's an honor to be that guy."

Konstanty was taken with the 1,169th selection in the 39th round by the Cincinnati Reds after a great senior season with the Great Danes.

Primarily playing first base for UAlbany, Konstanty started all 55 games in 2008, batted .295 with 18 doubles and 47 RBI, while also setting the program record with 13 home runs.

"Mike's not only a big time athletic kid, but he's also very hard working," UAlbany baseball coach Jon Mueller said.

Konstanty also played in 39 games during the 2007 season, when the Great Danes made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

"I'm honored to have played at UAlbany," Konstanty said.

The biggest adjustment for many players heading into the professional ranks seems to be getting used to playing every single day – Konstanty agrees.

"The biggest change is the mental aspect, playing every day and grinding it out," Konstanty said.

Konstanty is hitting .265 for the Mustangs in 36 games with seven home runs and 30 RBI through Saturday and although he is happy with how he's played, he thinks all of his offensive statistics could be higher.

"I'm working on things every day and feeling more comfortable," Konstanty said. "But, I'm doing well."

The first two weeks were tough, though, as the Mustangs spent 14 consecutive days playing games on the road.

"It's a pretty tough welcome to minor league baseball," Konstanty said. "You learn quick that you have to keep trying to get better."

At 6-foot-4 and 225-pounds, Konstanty is a powerful right-handed hitter, but it was something he's learned late in his career that has helped him improve as an overall hitter.

He started developing the ability to go the other way, hitting the ball to right field and he says that has opened up more opportunities for him as a hitter.

"If he can create leverage, he can drive the ball," Mueller said. "He has major league power, there's no doubt about it. It's his ability to go the other way which is a sign of his big-time power."

While Konstanty has lived his entire life in New York, growing up in Oneonta and playing at UAlbany, he says Montana isn't too much different.

"The people are somewhat similar in Oneonta," said Konstanty of Montana's largest city which still has fewer than 100,000 people. "It's a small town. The scenery is beautiful and the weather has been great."

The Mustangs assured themselves a spot in the playoffs come September by winning the first half of the Pioneer League's North Division and they are already out to a quick second half.

"We're playing good out here," Konstanty said. "It's nice to win some games."

Konstanty says this season has gone by in a blur, but he's learned a lot and still finds it amazing that's he playing professional baseball.

"It's hard to believe still, that I ended up in Billings, getting paid to play baseball," Konstanty said.

Siena wins again....McCaffery ejected

Siena wins their second game, 103-92 over Fulgor Libertas, but coach Fran McCaffery took umbrage to their physicality and was ejected with 2:57 left in the third quarter.

“I've coached in enough games both in the United States and overseas to know when the game is out of control,” said McCaffery after the game. “And my responsibility is to be concerned with the health and welfare of our players, first and foremost. I will always fight for that, no matter what.”

Clarence Jackson stepped up with Kenny Hasbrouck in foul trouble as led the Saints with 22 points - 18 of which came in the first half.

Jackson shot 7-for-12 from the floor, 3-for-6 from beyond the international three-point line and 5-for-6 from the line.

Alex Franklin scored 20 points, Edwin Ubiles added 15, Ronald Moore added 11 points and 11 rebounds and Hasbrouck finished with 14 points, nine of which came int he final quarter.

Senior Josh Duell did play. He started, but did not score and grabbed seven rebounds.

I'll have more on the game when we hear further from Jack McCaffery, our working Siena beat writer while the team is over in Italy.

Update 5:17 p.m. (in the U.S.) : Some added through from Jack McCaffery about the game.

Siena played smart enough to win and when it mattered, Rossiter became a defensive rebounding machine...Jackson was spectacular. Overall, a good performance I'd say. Libertas was huge along the front line and played well together - again though, like the team in Castellanza, they tired in the fourth quarter while Siena kept playing hard, which was the difference.

McCaffery said that this team was a "B1" team or the second pro level in Europe. He rated them as a high mid-major to low high-major college-level team, but with older players.

Overall, McCaffery said he thought this was a much more stirn challenge than the one earlier this week.

Turley leaving Great Danes

It seems as if there will be a scholarship for Will Harris, a transfer from the University of Virigina and member of the Cavaliers team that defeated UAlbany in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, after all.

Al Turley is leaving the team as reported today by the school.

This continues the upheaval or overturn of the Great Danes as we approach the 2008-09 season.

I'll have more on this later.

Here's more from the release....

Albany, N.Y. -- University at Albany men’s basketball forward Al Turley is leaving the University at Albany for personal reasons and intends to stay closer to his family, as head coach Will Brown announced today.

Turley, a 6-foot-7 and 285-pound forward/center, was a starter in 11 of 30 games played as a freshman last season. He averaged 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds and blocked 15 shots. Turley, who was born in New Orleans , was an all-district selection as a scholastic player at Westfield High School in Houston, Texas .

“Al has made a decision that he feels is in his best personal interest,” Brown said. “He has informed me of his intent to pursue a college football career in his home state. As a student-athlete, he had a solid first year on the court and in the classroom. We thank him for his contributions to our program and wish him well.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Game Story...It's All Saints

This story appears in our print edition on Tuesday along with a notes package from Jack McCaffery, Coach Fran McCaffery's brother and a columnist for the Delco (Pa.) Times.

Jack will be filing reports after the game's that Siena plays in Italy. The next game is Friday night.

CASTELLANZA, Italy - The 2008 Siena basketball season over, the 2009 season promising, it took center Ryan Rossiter exactly 24 hours to decide to be prepared for whatever opportunity would come next.

Turns out, that chance came Monday in the Saints' first game on their exhibition tour of Italy - and the 6-foot-9 sophomore center was ready to collect 15 rebounds and score 23 points in a 131-86 victory over the Basketball School of Castellanza.

With senior center Josh Duell resting a pulled left groin, Rossiter started the game, and by halftime, he had eight rebounds. He would shoot 8-for-11 from the field, with five dunks, 4-for-4 from the line and 1-for-1 from three-point range.

"I am 10-to-12 pounds heavier than I was at the end of last season," Rossiter said. "I have been weightlifting since the day after the Villanova game (in the second round of the NCAA Tournament). I tried to lift every day with my brother (Steven, who plays for Davidson). I might have taken a day or two off a week, at the most.

"It's helped. I definitely can hold my ground better. And I am able to push people out easier. I am stronger and the whole thing is helping me."

The Saints will play five games in Italy, and were expecting the level of competition to improve at each stop. Castellanza was a collection of All-Stars from Northern Italy, but was unable to keep the pace when Siena began to trap and press after the first of four 10-minute quarters.

Kenny Hasbrouck shot 9-for-10 (4-for-4 behind the international three-point stripe) and 1-for-1 from the foul line to match Rossiter's game-high 23 points. Edwin Ubiles, who played about 12 minutes at point guard, scored 21, as did Alexander Franklin. Clarence Jackson added 18, Ronald Moore 10, Cory Magee eight and Steven Priestley seven.

With Duell and Erik Harris (ankle) injured, the Saints had just eight players available.

Siena shot 70.1 percent from the field, 54-for-77. Magee bagged 11 rebounds. Moore delivered 12 assists, including eight in the fourth quarter.

"We were a lot better than this team," said Hasbrouck, who had five assists. "But everyone got in their rhythm. We know we have to get ready for better teams than this."

Castellanza was active early, shooting 11-for-19 in the first quarter. Moore's three-pointer at the first-quarter horn gave the Saints a 31-28 lead. But Siena scored 31 of the first 39 second-quarter points, and soon, Castellanza began to sag.

"I wouldn't say we had jet lag," Hasbrouck said. "We had a long practice before the game, and then tried to do a lot of things in warmups - dunking and things (legal in international games). We weren't used to the setting. But once we started doing more things on defense, we were fine."

While the Saints will spend their days trying to learn as much as possible about Italy, they will spend their nights concentrating on their backcourt, which will be in transition with the graduation of Tay Fisher and the transfer of Chris De La Rosa. While Moore was entertaining and effective Monday, both Hasbrouck and Ubiles logged some time at point guard.

The game was only three minutes old when coach Fran McCaffery motioned Ubiles to the point - and came away satisfied with the earliest results.

"It was kind of an up and down game," the coach said. "I thought Eddie did fine at the point. I want to see if he can get us into some more things. But in this game, he was able to take the ball right in and score on them, so that's what he did."

With the shot clock set at 24 seconds in international games, shots were plentiful from both teams ... and so were rebounds. As per his offseason plan, Rossiter was ready.

"I'm really happy with his development," McCaffery said. "He's been playing great. He had a chance to play a lot tonight with Josh out, and he played with a lot of confidence. That was good for him."

During one fourth-quarter stretch, Rossiter claimed a traffic defensive rebound and hit Jackson in stride with a full-court outlet pass, good for a breakaway reverse dunk, delighting the crowd.

Shortly after, he popped to the top of the key during an inbound play and drained a three-pointer.

"I've been working on that, too," Rossiter said.

Might he be the replacement for Fisher as a long-ball threat?

"Could be," he said, smiling. "Could be."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hearing from Italy...

Siena coach Fran McCaffery's brother, Jack works for another paper in our chain, the Delco Times.

He is sending some stuff to us that will be in the paper and I will post all of it here, but I'll give you a sneak preview.

The Siena team defeated the Basketball School of Castellanza 131-86 on Monday night.

Josh Duell missed the game with a strained groin as did Erik Harris, who has an injured ankle. Duell did say he hopes he'll be back for Friday's game.

Here's the scoring...sophomore Ryan Rossiter had 23 points and 15 rebounds and shot 8-for-11 from the field with five dunks and a three-pointer.

Senior Kenny Hasbrouck also scored 23 points. Edwin Ubiles, who played about 12 minutes at the point scored 21 as did Alex Franklin.

Clarence Jackson added 18, Ronald Moore scored 10 and dished out 12 assists, including eight in the fourth quarter, Cory Magee finished with eight points and Steven Priestley added seven.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Siena...Here comes the bulls-eye has started what I believe will be the biggest bulls-eye we've seen in some time on Siena College's men's basketball team this season.

ESPN previews the MAAC here...

with this picture of Alex Franklin gracing the front of the entire college basketball section

Getty Images

Here's the headline:

ShootAround: Siena poised to make it two tourney trips in a row

And like I it begins.

There is a preview of each team. Here's is what they say about the Saints.

When Siena was beaten last year, it was often because of defensive foibles, and this season's upside rests heavily on how much the Saints improve on that end. The Saints were exposed from the arc (37 percent allowed) in addition to the defensive glass. They're able to make up for some of it with a very positive turnover differential. Siena finished 33rd in D-I in forcing them (24.0 percent of opponents' possessions) and, thanks in large part to lead guard Ronald Moore, only turned it over 15.7 percent of the time itself (5th in D-I). Must-watch holiday hoops alert: The Siena-Tennessee quarterfinal in the Old Spice Classic should be juicy Thanksgiving Week viewing.

Worth a note, Canisus is also taking a trip to Italy this month, something I was unaware of.

Icon - SMI

Monday, August 11, 2008

Siena to Italy....Fisher to Houston

I ventured over to Siena today before practice.

The team leaves for Italy on Saturday morning and will practice this week to prepare.

Make sure to check out the article I will write later in the week - it will probably appear Friday - on how the team feels getting back together and getting ready for the trip.

All of the players I spoke with today said they had never been to Europe, so it should be a once in a lifetime experience.

Coach Fran McCaffery mentioned specifically that Clarence Jackson is a player he's interested in seeing how he progresses with additional minutes.

With Chris De La Rosa transferring, Jackson will see a lot more time at the guard spot behind Ronald Moore and Kenny Hasbrouck.

It was good to see Tay Fisher as well, who was helping out the team with their day basketball camp.

Fisher said he will be leaving for the Harlem Globetrotters tryout on Wednesday. Fisher will tryout on Wednesday and Thursday and return Friday, but will not be making the trip to Italy even though he said the school does have a ticket for him.

The players were all mentioning how the target will be on them from the very get-go this season and that this trip will help them get prepared for gameday scenarios.