First off, Siena coach Fran McCaffery
and wife Margaret
will be honored before Saturday's game against Niagara for their work for Coaches vs. Cancer
I would also be remiss without mentioning that UAlbany coach Will Brown and his wife Jamie were also recognized before Friday night's game against Stony Brook for raising more than $400,000 to fight cancer.
It is great for this area that both coaching families have done so much for this great cause.
Now, on to the game.
Overview: The Saints are looking for the best MAAC start since 1989-90, their first season and the year that a Lionel Simmons led LaSalle team went 16-0 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
If Siena can improve to 9-0 today, it will be very hard for another team to catch them because they will be up 3.5 games on Niagara and Rider with only nine to play.
On the other end of the court will be a Purple Eagles team that has two solid transfers in Bilal Benn (Villanova) and Rob Garrison (Connecticut) to compliment their already solid starting lineup, which includes Benson Egemonye, Tyrone Lewis and Anthony Nelson.
Those five players have started all 19 of Niagara's games.
These two schools have combined to win the last two MAAC Tournament titles and four out of the last seven. This game also boasts the two winningest programs since the league expanded to 10 teams in 1997-98.
Records: Siena 8-0, 14-5. Niagara 5-2, 14-5.
Player to Watch: Bilal Benn. What makes Benn good is that at 6-foot-5 and a guard he is averaging more than nine rebounds per game. Matched up against Siena's Alex Franklin, Benn's play could be the difference make one way or the other.
X-factor: Offensive Rebounding. Niagara enters this game as the top team in the conference in offensive rebounds, averaging more than 15 per game. The Purple Eagles aren't particularly tall either, so that has been a big key for them. Siena has made a more of a point of emphasis on rebounding and point guard Ronald Moore told me Friday that boxing out will be the most important thing in this game.
Injury Report: Josh Duell (ACL, MCL sprain) will not dress, and I would be very surprised if Cory Magee (concussion) did either.
Prediction: Siena 87, Niagara 81 (Both teams like to push and this game should see lots of scoring. At 15-4, my record is just one game better than these two teams)
Labels: College Basketball, Fran McCaffery, Niagara, Siena, Will Brown