Saturday, February 28, 2009

Care to Dance?

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men's basketball team captured the Liberty League championship with a 72-65 victory over host St. Lawrence on Saturday.

Sam Simmons, who scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds and is in front of this team picture, took home MVP honors.

The Red Hawks (15-12) will find out where they will play in the NCAA Tournament on Monday.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Duell out with calf injury

CBS 6 Sports Director Doug Sherman, who is calling the Siena/Niagara game on Friday night, reports that Siena senior co-captain Josh Duell injured his calf in Thursday's practice and his day-to-day, but the word is that Duell will miss the final two regular season games.

Duell has had a laundry list of injuries this season, including an Achilles injury, a black eye, a MCL/ACL sprain and now this.

Duell is averaging 2.4 points and and 1.9 rebounds in 17 games this season.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Siena-Niagara on the U

Friday night's game between first place Siena (15-1, 22-6) and second place Niagara (12-4, 22-7) will be on ESPNU from Taps Gallagher Arena.

This obviously would have been a bigger game had Niagara not lost to Rider last week and the regular season title still been up for grabs, but still Siena coach Fran McCaffery has stayed consistent with his moniker.

“Nothing will change at all,” McCaffery said. “It will be business as usual.”

It could be a preview of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title game because these look like the two most talented teams in the league.

“We want teams to think they have to get through us to get to the MAAC championship and they feel like teams have to go through them to get to the MAAC championship,” senior co-captain Kenny Hasbrouck said. “That’s how it’s been and that’s how it’s going to be the next couple of years.”

The Purple Eagles will also be looking to prove that the Saints are nearly unbeatable in the conference this year.

“They’re definitely a good team and they’re going to try and come out and prove that they can beat us,” junior point guard Ronald Moore said.

Niagara has a lot of talent, but the key for Siena will be to keep the Purple Eagles off of the glass, especially with rebounders like Benson Egemonye and Bilal Benn.

“Our main goal is to stop them from getting second-chance shots,” Moore said.

It should be an electric atmosphere in front of what I would expect to be a sellout crowd.

“When it’s all said and done, I think our players and their players enjoy those types of games,” McCaffery said. “That’s what it’s all about — packed house, national television audience — that’s what they want.”

Prediction: Siena 90, Niagara 76 (My record is 21-7, worse than both teams - who knew)

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Following UAlbany at New Hampshire LIVE

It's a slow night here, relatively speaking, so in addition to listening to the UAlbany game against New Hampshire, I'll put a few thoughts down here.

7:46: Jimmie Covington is having a great game - already eight points (his career high is 11). It's been a pleasant surprise to see/hear how the Great Danes have played the last two games with only eight players.

7:53: Halftime UAlbany 32, New Hampshire 27: I was getting ready to write about how Will Harris didn't score in the first half and he ends the first 20 minutes with a slam from Jerel Hastings. Still, Harris needs more than that for UAlbany to stay on top.

On a side note, I've never seen this before but the New Hampshire live stats are actually ahead of the radio call. Very weird to see the score update before the call comes.

8:17: In the continuing saga of Tim Ambrose, the sophomore guard picks up his third foul and heads to bench. When will Ambrose realize he could be a very dominant player if he wasn't in foul trouble all the time.

8:31: Ambrose gets hit with his fourth foul with 10:02 to go and UAlbany down two, 43-41. With only eight players, the Great Danes can ill-afford to have anyone, let alone one of their top players, foul out.

8:35: Apparently Rony Tchatchoua threw down a monster jam because the crowd went absolutely nuts and Jon Phelps compared it to Vermont's Marqus Blakely's slam over Brent Wilson a couple of years ago (seen below).

8:59: UAlbany is trailing by five and it's not looking good. In other news, the top four seed have been clinched with Binghamton winning at least a share of the regular season title. The Bearcats will be the top seed thanks to sweeping Vermont during the season and beating UMBC tonight. The Catamounts will be two, Boston University will be three and Stony Brook will be four.

9:15: UAlbany falls 64-56. Ambrose was the only player in double figures for the Great Danes with 11 points.

As far as I can tell, this means with a win over UMBC on Sunday in the finale, UAlbany will get Boston University in the tournament for the second straight year - a loss, and the Great Danes will take on Vermont.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

UAlbany/Siena game should be later

Tomorrow I will be in Loudonville for the Siena lacrosse game against the University at Albany. 

While this is a big game for both programs, who are hoping to/have enough talent to reach the NCAA Tournament, it is being played at the wrong time. 

If this game was being played in a month or later on a day where it was warmer than 37 degrees (the high temperature for the day), this game could draw a couple thousand people. 

Lacrosse is growing more and more popular in this area and nation wide.  

Last year, Delmar native and Albany Academy graduate Mike Leveille led Syracuse to the national title in front of almost 50,000 people at Gillette Stadium

Siena has had back-to-back 10 wins season and UAlbany has gone to the NCAA Tournament four of the last six seasons.

The rivalry game is being played for in Loudonville this year, but the Siena student body is on vacation. 

While this rivalry will never rival that of the basketball teams, it really could become a good matchup for the area and both up and coming programs.  

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Danes get "team" win

UAlbany coach Will Brown said it was truly a "team" victory on Sunday as the Great Danes snapped a five-game losing skid.

“These guys really executed the gameplan, the scout and played hard," Brown said.

Without Anthony Raffa (toe) or Louis Barraza (Achilles) and with Will Harris having one of his quieter league games this season, others stepped up.

“Every guy that was playing and the guys that weren’t playing were in the game, cheering us on and we left everything on the floor," sophomore Tim Ambrose said.

Jerel Hastings, Mike Johnson, Billy Allen and Jimmie Covington all played more that 15 minutes and contributed.

Hastings had a game and career-highs with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Johnson stepped up with Raffa out and had six assists to just one turnover and as Brown said afterwards, he's the closest thing UAlbany has to a true point guard.

“I think these guys know when Mike has the ball, there’s a good chance they’re going to get it, especially if they run in transition or he penetrates,” Brown said. “He’s always looking for guys and that’s something that this team needs.”

Brown even sang the praises of Allen, who didn't score, but had five assists.

“He’s our best passer against zones,” Brown said. “The problem is he’s a much better shooter than what he showed this year, he’s just letting it get to his head. I thought he gave us a lift in Will’s absence tonight.”

Brown also said it was the hard work in the week of practice before this game that allowed them to get the win.

“We need to realize that we won this game on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, what’s today, Sunday, so I’ll keep going Saturday,” Brown said. “We need to win this New Hampshire game on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.”

While UAlbany avoided what could have been a disastrous loss and fallen into eighth place in the conference standings, Brown hopes they can climb a little higher than where they are now, tied for fifth.

“We’re looking at fifth,” Brown said. “We think if we win the next two, we’re guaranteed fifth.”

One note on Maine senior Philippe Tchekane-Bofia, who played prep ball at Redemption Christian Academy in Troy.

Tchekane-Bofia's career is over according to Maine coach Ted Woodward, who said he couldn't discuss the injury that is keeping him out this season and the rest of his career.

“He’s medically unable,” Woodward said.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Duell makes big impact for Siena

ALBANY - Josh Duell didn't exactly jump off the page at Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobsen as he prepared to take on Siena.

How could he?

Duell has missed the 10 of the last 13 games and was averaging just 2.0 points per game.

On Saturday, in the Saints 81-75 victory over the Panthers, Duell finished with eight points, five assists and a rebound in 21 minutes.

“He really hurt us today because he has such a good feel for how to play,” Jacobsen said.

Duell said he just wanted to get back out there and try to help out.

“I think I thrived on driving and kicking to Kenny (Hasbrouck), Eddie (Ubiles) or Ronald (Moore) for open shots because the big guy didn’t come out and guard me that much,” Duell said.

Duell's impact was even bigger because of Northern Iowa's size and the foul trouble Ryan Rossiter was in.

“The key to was he gave us great minutes when Rossiter was in foul trouble,” Siena coach Fran McCaffery said.

McCaffery said he thought Duell would make a big impact down the stretch and he was right on this night.

“It’s great to see him contributing this way,” McCaffery said. “He deserves that.”

The biggest shot of the night wasn't one from Siena or Northern Iowa - Cohoes native Brendan Bradt hit a half-court shot in the second half, which you can view above, for $25,000 from the folks at Northeastern Fine Jewelery.

“That was amazing,” sophomore Clarence Jackson said. “I saw it go in the air and turned around and saw everybody cheering and I was happy for him.”

Bradt, 25, lives in Boston and said he was "pretty nervous" about just having one attempt.
Bradt played basketball at Cohoes High and then at Hudson Valley Community College.

"Fortunately it went in," Bradt said.

Bradt said he would put some of the money towards his student loans (I know how he feels), but that he would "drink a lot tonight, I'm not going to lie."

Jacobsen is a big time backer of the Saints making it to the NCAA Tournament.

“I watched them play a number of games on film and watching them play, this is a team that should be in the NCAA Tournament,” Jacobsen said. “They have all of the firepower that they need and are extremely well-coached.”

Asked squarely should Siena be in the tournament, he went on to say this.

“Absolutely,” Jacobsen said. “Some people may say Northern Iowa — they didn’t play very well in the first half. This game isn’t the one — it’s what they’ve done to this point.”

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Saints, Panthers and a possible sellout

Siena tips off with Northern Iowa in about 17 hours and it looks like it could potentially be a sellout in downtown Albany, which is good for both programs as the game will also be on ESPN2.

I had a chance to talk with assistant coach Mitch Buonaguro about the game today, while I was waiting to talk to some players and he said he's seen 12 of the Panthers games.

Buonaguro is a master of the scouting report and he's had almost all week to dissect Northern Iowa, not good news for Panthers fans.

Meanwhile, Northern Iowa lost by one point to Drake on Wednesday, had to travel quite a long distance and apparently could be without one of their starters.

Junior guard Ali Farokhmanesh had his thigh drained on Thursday, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, because of an apparent staph infection.

According to the paper, Farokhmanesh, who averages 10.0 points in 29.1 minutes per game, is listed as questionable.

That would be a loss, but this team which currently leads the Missouri Valley Conference, is very balanced.

"They are always right in the game," said Siena coach Fran McCaffery. "Even when they lose, they are right there."

McCaffery said the most impressive thing about the Panthers is the way they've played on the road, where they are 7-3.

The Saints aren't too bad at home though, having won 17 consecutive games, good for the fifth longest streak in the nation, tied with Pittsburgh and Dayton.

Siena sophomore forward Ryan Rossiter said having already won the conference will not change our the Saints prepare for their last three regular season games.

“We know we’ve won the conference, but we’re not going to take anything lightly,” Rossiter said. “We’re just going to keep going out there and playing hard like we’ve done all season.”

Prediction: Siena 74, Northern Iowa 62 (In a contrast of styles, I see Siena's speed to be too much. My record is 20-7)

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McRae Suspended; Raffa, Barraza out Sunday

It's been an interesting year for UAlbany junior transfer Scotty McRae.

At 6-foot-8, McRae certainly brings a lot to the table in terms of size, athleticism and ability.

This season though has been a rollercoaster ride for the Rosedale, N.Y., native.

McRae has played in 21 games and is averaging 4.7 points per game.

His best game recently came Feb. 9 at Binghamton, where he scored 12 points and grabbed three rebounds off the bench in a 88-75 loss.

McRae was kicked out of practice on Tuesday and obviously things haven't gotten any better as Friday it was announced that he is suspended from the team indefinitely.

That means McRae will miss Sunday's game against Maine at the SEFCU Arena.

Freshman point guard Anthony Raffa (sprained left toe) and sophomore Louis Barraza (right Achilles strain) also will not play on Sunday.

This means that on Senior Day for Jerel Hastings, Brian Connelly and Jimmie Covington, the Great Danes will have just eight players.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

What a Strange Day

It was a weird day today for many different reasons.

First off, the unfortunate incident with the Albany River Rats bus getting into an accident on Interstate 90 early Thursday morning.

"My heart goes out to the River Rats family," said Siena coach Fran McCaffery at his weekly luncheon. "So many times we are in that same boat."

With all the travel college teams due, both McCaffery and Siena women's coach Gina Castelli understood how frightening that could be, especially since they are in a guardian type role with regards to their student-athletes.

"Even when our assistants are recruiting, we’re often on the Mass Pike and that’s a dangerous place because you can’t see the ice," Castelli said.

McCaffery says he's had the same bus driver for every trip and that's something that is very important to him.

"It’s one thing I have always been an absolute stickler about - we have the same bus driver," McCaffery said.

He went on to say that their driver, Willy Wakefield "is as big a part of the Siena basketball program as anybody."

Then, I got into work and saw that Saint Rose senior captain Evan Lane had been kicked off the basketball team.

I've had the chance to speak with Evan a couple of times over the past two years and he has always seemed like a hard-working kid, who gives 100 percent.

I've also been able to speak with coach Brian Beaury on many of occasions and I'm sure he's making the correct decision or at least the necessary one.

On top of that, I did my first spring sports story on the UAlbany lacrosse team (who I guess didn't get the message that it's still 25 degrees out) for Friday's paper edition.

Also, I was at Siena to do something for the paper on the team winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title last night due to Rider's victory over Niagara.

All in all it was one of the stranger days I've seen since I've been in the business.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Siena wins MAAC

Harris Mansell's 3-pointer with six seconds left gave Rider the lead in a 90-87 victory over Niagara. 

With the Broncs victory, Siena wins the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and an bid to the NIT should the Saints need it. 

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America East joins tournaments

Got a release today that the America East Conference will be combining the men's and women's tournaments for next season at Hartford's Chase Arena

The positives: You can expect a larger overall crowd because there will be 18 teams instead of nine and it will be better for host cities in terms of revenue dollars. 

The negatives: This can seem like a negative to people who would just like to attend either the men's or women's tournament. 

On the whole, I think this is a good idea. 

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rossiter honored, Saints one step from title

Siena sophomore Ryan Rossiter picked up his second Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Week award on Monday.

Rossiter averaged 11 points and 13 rebounds in two Saints victories, while shooting 88 percent from the field.

Rossiter and Siena then went out and beat Iona 75-60 to move one step away from clinching the conference title and locking up at least a spot in the NIT, something they hope they won't need.

The Saints can lock up the conference, strangely enough from the seats of their pants, as Niagara travels to Rider on Wednesday night.

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America East Quarters to air on TW3

As per a press release that hit my desk this afternoon, all four of Satuday's America East Conference quarterfinals can be seen on Time Warner-3.

America East Commissioner Patrick Nero and University at Albany Director of Athletics Lee McElroy jointly announced that today.

The game times are Saturday, March 7 at 12, 2:30, 6 and 8:30 p.m.

Nero has said that UAlbany will play earlier in the day, so as to avoid any conflict with Siena's quarterfinal game in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament.

If the Great Danes are to make it to the quarterfinals, which at first looked for sure and now looks possible, they will either play in one of the two earlier time slots.

WNYT's Rodger Wyland and Frank Sullivan, America East associate commissioner, will handle the broadcasting duties.

The semifinal games on Sunday, March 8 are slated for 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., with the championship game taking place at the home court of the higher seed on Saturday, March 14 at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Worst loss ever at the 'Cue

I did include this in the paper edition, but didn't find it out til about eight o'clock when UAlbany sports information Brian DePasquale told me Sunday's 19-point loss to New Hampshire was the worst loss in the history of the SEFCU Arena, which opened the 1992-93 season.

Amazingly that's not that bad for a worst loss ever, but it leaves the Great Danes reeling, losers of five straight and now in seventh place with three games to go.

“We knew this was going to be a really tough game,” New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion said. “We have a lot of respect for what these guys (UAlbany) do. I know they’re trying to find their way right now, I thought our kids came out though with great focus and I thought we established the game in the first five minutes.”

Couldn't have said it any better myself.

New Hampshire led 12-1 after the first three minutes and the Wildcats hadn't misses a shot (4-4 from the field, 2-2 from the free throw line).

“We played no perimeter defense, outside of Jerel Hastings,” UAlbany coach Will Brown said.

The Great Danes have a week of before hosting Maine at SEFCU Arena on Sunday, Feb. 22.

Despite having classes off, it may seem like a very long week for the players.

“We’re looking at doubles Tuesday, doubles Thursday, doubles Friday, grind them a little bit and challenge them,” Brown said. “I said to Brian Connelly, Brett Gifford and Jimmie Covington, help me out, is this the most patient I’ve ever been and Brian Connelly said ‘by far.’ They’re not responding to the patting on the back and the coddling, so I’m going back to getting in their faces and riding them and holding them accountable for every little thing.”

Brown said he is headed to Texas for recruiting on Wednesday, but would change his schedule so as to be gone for only as short a time as possible.

I asked Brown how he gets his players believing they can beat the best teams in this league, like they have already done this season.

“Confidence is a funny thing, especially when you’re dealing with young people,” Brown said. “If it was that easy, we’d be winning some games.”

The loss was pretty demoralizing for the team.

“Guys heads are down a little bit, but we have to find a way to pick it up,” Hastings said.

Pick it up and in a hurry.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Early season results too high for Danes???

People (myself included) were very high on the Unversity at Albany basketball team early this season when they got out to the best start in program history through various numbers of games and then even more so when they won at Vermont home against Binghamton and Boston University.

Well those days seem long ago now for the Great Danes, who have lost four games in a row and are trying to stay out of the bottom of the America East standings.

UAlbany takes on New Hampshire at the SEFCU Arena at 2 p.m.

The Great Danes have lost six of eight games after getting out to a 3-1 conference start.

The thing is that maybe this team was out-performing themselves early on this season and it has just caught up to them.

The team is very young, their top scorers are a sophomore in Tim Ambrose, a junior in his first year with the team in Will Harris and a freshman in Anthony Raffa.

When any or all of those players have stuggled, the team has followed suit.

The great/aggravating thing for coach Will Brown must be that his team is 8-2 at home this season and they will just have to win two games on their home court (as long as they don't slip to eighth) to get to the championship game.

As great as it was to see this team succeed early on, it's been just as difficult watching them struggle the past month.

They still have a chance to turn things around and with this could be the perfect year to have the tournament on their home court, but we'll see.

This team may be a year away.

Prediction: UAlbany 65, New Hampshire 58 (My record is 17-8)

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Mock Committee: Siena gets last at-large

No team from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has received an at-large bid since Manhattan did so in 1995, but according to a bracket released today by a mock committee of 20 national media members, Siena would recieve the 34th and final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The committee was given scenarios as to how the conference tournaments would play out. In this situation the committee was told that Siena had lost in the MAAC title game to Fairfield, hence the need for at-large consideration.

“Siena has three things that you need to be successful in March: athleticism, toughness and experience,” CBS college basketball analyst Seth Davis who was on the committee said in an e-mail last week. “They actually have a similar profile to Davidson's last year - a tough nonconference schedule that included a lot of losses, but which served as great preparation for the postseason. The fact that they returned all their starters from a team that won a First Round game last year is also critical. These guys have played together a long time, and they have confidence knowing they have succeeded in the tournament before. Believe me, any coach who sees their name pop up next to Siena's on the Selection Show is going to have a fitful night's sleep.”

The Saints currently have an RPI of 29 according to

The bracket predicted Siena to be a 12-seed and take on 5-seeded UCLA. For what it's worth Fairfield was given a 13-seed and a game against 4-seed Xavier.

“Siena struggled early but didn’t fade,” according to ESPN Senior Writer Andy Katz. “Ultimately, Siena did the right thing – the Saints scheduled well, built up their RPI and coasted in the MAAC toward the league title. That’s the recipe for a potential bid and a decent seed once again.”

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Siena mauls Manhattan

ALBANY - Siena senior Kenny Hasbrouck (above, with his family) said it was the best game since Boise State.

Siena coach Fran McCaffery said there wasn't much more he could ask for and sophomore Clarence Jackson said the team executed on both offense and defense.

I guess that pretty much sums up an almost perfect Senior Night after a 93-69 romp over Manhattan on Thursday night.

Josh Duell returned, Erik Harris scored and oh yeah, Ryan Rossiter had EIGHT blocks.

"We ran the ball, we shared the ball and we got productivity from the bench," McCaffery said. "There's not much more I could ask."

Hasbrouck led the way, scoring 23 points and dishing out six assists.

"He's a tremendous player and every time he has the ball, I think he's going to score," said Duell, who added that it's "fun" watching Hasbrouck play.

"The beauty was how he just kept driving the ball," McCaffery said.

Duell played 12 minutes in returning to the floor after missing 10 games.

"I thought Josh looked good," McCaffery said. "He moved well."

Duell scored three points on 1-for-4 shooting, but 0-for-3 from beyond the 3-point arc.

"The first two felt pretty bad, but the third one, I thought was going in for sure," Duell said.

Adding Duell to the mix, gives the Saints another big man and another long-range threat, two things the definitely need for the stretch run.

"Josh is looking good," Hasbrouck said. "He was moving well without the ball. He was setting screens like he always does...It was great he came back today because even when he was on the floor, he spread it open."

It was a season-high in points and probably a season-high in smiles from the players as Siena thoroughly dominated on this night.

"It was a special night," Jackson said. "That introduction in the beginning, we were all happy for them and they all have worked hard to get to this point."

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Fourth place showdown on the Island

The University at Albany has been struggling lately, losing five of their last seven.

The Great Danes now stand at 5-6 in the America East, four games behind first place Vermont.

Tonight, UAlbany meets Stony Brook (5-6, 13-11), who dealt the Great Danes one of their two home losses this season back on Jan. 23.

Coach Will Brown didn't make any players available to the media following that game and called it a very disappointing effort.

UAlbany needs to turn things around with only five games to go to gain some momentum heading into the conference tournament, which they host.

After tonight, the Great Danes' last four games are against teams behind them in the standings.

If they can win tonight, I like their chances to go 3-1 in their last four and finish the conference season 9-7.

It has to start tonight though and I think it will.

Prediction: UAlbany 63, Stony Brook 53 (My record is 17-7)

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Saints Senior Night

It looks like tonight's Siena game (I'll actually be heading down very soon) will be soldout for Senior Night.

That will be nice for Kenny Hasbrouck, Josh Duell and Erik Harris.

The Saints can also lock up the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season title with a win and a Niagara loss at Canisius.

Manhattan has been playing well lately, winning four of their last five, but it'll be hard to stop Siena tonight playing at home in a soldout building with emotions high.

Prediction: Siena 81, Manhattan 67 (My record is 19-6)

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Saints hound Loyola

I'll start off by saying that this will probably be the only time betting is discussed on this blog and it's because sports are so unpredictable.

Hopefully you didn't bet on tonight's game and if you did bet on Siena, my condolences.

Jamal Barney's swipe and slam with 2.7 seconds to go was the last play in what was a very interesting 73-60 Siena victory.

Here's what Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos had to say about Barney's play.

“He’s in tears, he’s upset back in the locker room,” Patsos said. “He didn’t know if there was 20 seconds or two seconds. He’s just a competitive kid from Baltimore. He was frustrated we lost and I told him never to do that again.”

Patsos said he is probably the gold medal winner for mistakes and that Barney will not do something like that again.

“I don’t think he’ll ever do that again and as teachers, that’s all we can do,” Patsos said.

While Siena coach Fran McCaffery said the play was just a mistake made by a kid, senior co-captain Kenny Hasbrouck (who is from near Barney's hometown in Maryland) and who was the one who had the ball stolen from him called the play "real ignorant."

"He just made Loyola look bad," said Hasbrouck, who added that he didn't shake hands with Barney following the game.

Hasbrouck played all right on this night, but it was the duo of Alex Franklin and Ryan Rossiter that really guided Siena to victory.

“They got every rebound over them," Hasbrouck said.

Rossiter, whose father Steve played for Loyola, killed the Greyhounds inside, scoring 14 points and grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds.

“Rossiter’s a funny guy,” Patsos said. “He’s one of those guys who just works.”

Rossiter said he wasn't recruited by Loyola and is happy with his decision to come to Siena.

“The kid’s just been unbelievable,” McCaffery said.

Rossiter's reward for having such a good night - well McCaffery got into him about blowing a rotation near the end of the game when Loyola sunk a 3-pointer.

“I appreciate that he’s getting on me because it’s when he stops yelling at you that you have to be worried,” Rossiter said.

Patsos also had some comments about keeping the MAAC Tournament in Albany, something that has been up for debate this year.

“I’m the guy in the league that says the tournament should be here every year,” Patsos said. “I’m going to stick to my guns. If some people don’t like that, I’m sorry. I think this is the best arena, I think you have the best fans.”

He continued on about Albany and Siena's home arena when asked about Rossiter.

“Rossiter’s father went to Loyola,” Patsos said. “Isn’t that nice? We don’t have 6,000 season ticket holders and a video board. The video board goes off and I’m like wow, I would have come here too.”

Siena honored Hasbrouck, Franklin and Edwin Ubiles before the game - Hasbrouck for reaching, 1,500 career points and both Franklin and Ubiles for surpassing the 1,000-point mark for their careers, all this season.

It's only the second time in 68 years that three players have played together after having scored more than 1,000 points in their Siena careers.

(Tom Killips - The Record)

Siena alum Tay Fisher was at the game signing autographs and it was nice to catch up with him for a while.

I talked to him about Senior Night and also for a Five Questions segment that will probably run sometime next week in our print edition.

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Siena/Northern Iowa on ESPN2

Siena and Northern Iowa's BracketBuster game will be held in downtown Albany on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN2.

Other MAAC teams and games of note:
Friday, Feb. 20
Illinois State at Niagara, 7 p.m. - ESPN2
Saturday, Feb. 21
#15 Butler at Davidson, noon - ESPN
Buffalo at Vermont, 1 p.m. - ESPN2
Hofstra at Fairfield, 7 p.m. -

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Danes need to stop Mayben, BU

The University at Albany is banged up and has lost two straight, but they hit the road again tonight against Binghamton in a game that can be seen on MSG+.

The Bearcats are rolling as of late and most of it has to do with Troy native Emmanuel 'Tiki' Mayben.

Mayben led Binghamton back from 25 points down in the second half at Vermont and then hit a game-winning shot against Stony Brook on Saturday.

Here's a story on Mayben from today's Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin.

Binghamton is tied for second place with Vermont at 8-3, one game behind Boston University for tops in the conference.

The Bearcats also have D.J. Rivera, a Saint Joseph's transfer, who is averaging a league-best 20.4 points per game. That total also puts him 23rd nationally.

The Great Danes have beaten all three teams ahead of them, but if they lose this game and split with all three teams, not only will their losing streak hit three games, but they will sink to 5-6 in the America East.

UAlbany is hobbled with Will Harris dealing with tendinitis in his knee, something coach Will Brown said would keep him out of practice on Friday, the day before the Vermont game and Anthony Raffa is still dealing with a sore toe.

Raffa and sophomore Tim Ambrose combined for 41 points in the first meeting and Harris added 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Also, Mayben had probably his worst game of the season, one point on 0-for-7 shooting.

Everyone will need to come to play tonight if the Great Danes are going to turn things around.

Prediction: Binghamton 72, UAlbany 66 (If you recognize the score, it's because it's the same one UAlbany won by back in January. My record is 16-7)

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SI: Saints still a No. 11 - face Loyola tonight

Forget about an at-large bid for right now, after Niagara's 25-point victory over Fairfield (yes, 25), the Siena is only two games ahead of the Purple Eagles for first place in the MAAC with five to play. 

Forget about the Stags chances to win everything too after Jonathan Han's career may be over.

The Saints (12-1, 18-6) take on Loyola tonight in Albany with a chance to cement away the conference by going up 2.5 games with four to play. 

The Greyhounds (6-7, 11-14) have lost two in a row after six consecutive (five MAAC) wins had put them back on the map.  

Since it's seems like forever since these two teams met back in Baltimore, I'll give you a little info on the team. 

First, as most people know, they are led by coach Jimmy Patsos. 

Patsos wears his heart on his sleeve and probably will sweat through his suit before tip-off.

He has turned the program around in his five seasons after assisting at the University of Maryland. 

In another interesting note, he was college roommates with Vermont coach Mike Lonergan at Catholic. 

Patsos gained national attention earlier this season when he decided to double team Davidson's Stephen Curry - for the entire game. 

Loyola lost that game by 30. 

The Greyhounds are led by sophomore Jamal Barney, who is averaging 18.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, junior Brett Harvey and senior Marquis Sullivan

It's getting towards mid-February and that means the bracket analysis is at high right now. 

On Sports Illustrated's web site the Saints are still getting a No. 11 seed for the NCAA Tournament, but any thoughts of an at-large may have went out the window with the loss to Rider on Saturday. 

Also, former Siena player Jack McClinton is on the home page as he is helping Miami make a run at the dance. 

The No. 6 seeds (who the Saints would matchup against if they were an 11) are Syracuse, Arizona State, Ohio State and Florida

Back to the present though, we'll see how Siena plays tonight, coming off a loss, in their own building against a team they should beat. 

The Saints last home loss came February 16 against Loyola, when Greg Manning (now an assistant coach) hit a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime with hardly any time to go, spoiling a career night for Edwin Ubiles, who scored 37. 

Prediction: Manning stays on the bench, Ubiles doesn't score 37 and Siena wins 80-70 (Just like Siena, I'm trying to get back on the winning track. My record is 18-6)

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cats get last laugh

ALBANY - Vermont snapped a four-game skid against rival UAlbany at a packed SEFCU Arena on Saturday night.

“It was a much needed win for us,” Vermont coach Mike Lonergan said.

It was acatually amazing to me that the Great Danes were as close as they were considering Tim Ambrose didn't play the first half, Will Harris had his worst game of the season and Anthony Raffa didn't have nearly his best game either.

“We’re not a contender for the regular season championship because we don’t have the consistency right now for a 16-game regular season,” UAlbany coach Will Brown said.

Ambrose tried to make up for not playing in the first half by pouring in a school record-tying 29 points in the second half.

“In the second half, I just came out and left everything I had on the floor,” Ambrose said.

It still wasn't enough though and now the Great Danes are somewhat searching for answers, especially with a game against streaking Binghamton on Monday.

UAlbany had the lead down to three and had Harris on the line with 2:14 to go for a one-and-one, but he missed the front end.

“He had an off night,” Brown said. “We didn’t have guys to make up for that tonight, unfortunately,” Brown said.

Vermont hadn't won in Albany since 2007 and it took a huge effort from both Marqus Blakely and Mike Trimboli to get it done.

“They’re such a strong team,” Trimboli said. “They’re physicality overpowers us most games and most of our games have been within one or two points and when you get in situations like that, they’re always heartbreak losses. Tonight, our main goal was to try to out-tough them even though they do a good job at it."

Despite the loss, the crowd was by far the best of the season for a UAlbany game and it makes you wonder why it can't be like that nearly every game.

“The tournament’s here and if our crowd is like that for our tournament games, it will help us a lot,” senior co-captain Brian Connelly said.

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Undefeated No More

Siena lost 90-88 to Rider on Sunday afternoon to end their undefeated run through the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and drop their record to 18-6.

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Danes look to Growl at Cats

The 12th annual Big Purple Growl is today and it couldn't be a better opponent for the University at Albany. 

The last three growls have been sellouts and the Great Danes are 9-2 all-time in Growl games. 

This year, the school is calling for a white-out on gameday. The first 1,000 fans will receive a free white t-shirt. 

Vermont is coming after losing a 25-point second half lead and dropping a game to Binghamton by two in what coach Mike Lonergan called one of the most "disappointing losses of his career."

The Catamounts will certainly be looking for a win, especially after falling to the Great Danes earlier this season. 

The key in my mind will be the health of Anthony Raffa (he scored a team-high 22 points back on Jan. 11 at Patrick Gymnasium), but has been struggling with multiple injuries and the way UAlbany contains Marqus Blakely

Blakely scored just 11 points in the first matchup, thanks in large part to the defense of Brett Gifford. 

At 6-foot-11, Gifford can present a mismatch for the 6-foot-5 Blakely in that he has a tough time going over him. 

Blakely averages 15.5 points and 8.6 rebounds, both team-bests. 

"Blakely is a tremenous athlete," said UAlbany coach Will Brown on Friday. "He's a tough matchup. He needs to be near the basket to score and Giff is 6-11 and he leans on him and uses his length. Giff's a big kid, but the thing is we can't allow Blakely to play 1-on-1 with Giff because he's a lot quicker. I think we've done a good job of keeping Blakely off-balance. We have to force him to be a passer."

Brown said Will Harris wouldn't practice on Friday because of tendonitis in his knee, especially because UAlbany has another game on Monday at Binghamton

Harris hoisted up a Division I program record 27 shots on Thursday against Boston University and scored a career-high 28 points. 

"I don't know," Harris said when asked if he would look for more shots on Saturday. "It depends on what time of game we've got going."  

Harris scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds last time out against Vermont, but this is his first experience with the Big Purple Growl. 

"The only thing I've heard is it's the most fun game of the year," Harris said. "It's packed, it's loud, it's energetic - just how I like to play."

Senior co-captain Brian Connelly has played before three sellout crowds at the Big Purple Growl and admitted Friday it's a game he's looking forward too. 

"I love coming out there in front of all of our fans," Connelly said. "Plus, I like playing Vermont because it's a great game every time and that's kind of what college basketball is all about really."

The last six meetings, the last four of which have been UAlbany wins, have been decided by a combined 23 points or an average of 3.8 points per contest. 

"I'm expecting a real competitive one tomorrow," Harris said. 

Me too. 

Prediction: UAlbany 76, Vermont 74 (My record is 16-6) 

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Siena enters the Zoo

Siena puts their undefeated conference record on the line tomorrow when they travel to Lawrenceville, N.J. to take on Rider.

Alumni Gym is a tough place to play because it's so small and last season they crammed 1,700 fans into what's listed as a 1,650 capacity gymnasium.

“It’s hard at times because you can’t hear what the coach is saying and you can’t really hear your teammates, when you’re trying to help each out on defense or offense,” senior-co captain Kenny Hasbrouck said.

“We have a healthy respect for our opponents in this league,” said Siena coach Fran McCaffery on Tuesday.

This is a team that the Saints have beaten the last three times, including last year's 80-77 road victory, when Josh Duell hit a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds to go, but if there's going to be a falter in conference play, this is one of the last possible stumbles.

“They’re one of the best teams,” McCaffery said. “We’re one of the best teams and you have to beat those teams.”

Rider no longer has Jason Thompson (he's in the NBA), but they have his younger brother Ryan and a good supporting cast that includes Harris Mansell, Mike Ringgold and freshman Novar Gadson.

“There’s more focus on other guys,” junior Alex Franklin said. “You’re not pinpointing on one guy.”

Gadson is one of a few choices for MAAC Rookie of the Year.

“He’s a handful,” McCaffery said.

The difference could come down to who steps up for Siena.

They've had a host of players step up at one time or the other and on Monday against Saint Peter's it was Hasbrouck.

Hasbrouck scored a season-high 33 points in the victory over the Peacocks.

“We needed somebody to step up and take the game over and that’s what he did,” McCaffery said.

It's almost impossible to pick against Siena, but this is certainly a game where they could go down.

I just think Rider's defense isn't good enough to slow everyone down.

Prediction: Siena 86, Rider 79 (My record is as gaudy as the Saints' at 18-5)

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Big Purple Growl: 200 tickets remain

As of 3 p.m. on Friday, the 12th annual Big Purple Growl, a doubleheader for the University at Albany men's and women's basketball teams on Saturday, has only 200 general admission seats remaining.

That figure does not include the 1,000 seats set aside for students, which could become available if they are not used by the student body.

Also of note: Tomorrow will be a "test-run" for the new concession stand, which is located immediately to the right if you walk in the north entrance to SEFCU Arena.

The concession stand was put in because UAlbany is hosting the 2009 America East Tournament in March.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

ESPN: Siena has work to do

ESPN released their latest Bubble Watch today and in the Mid-Major category, they have three locks: Memphis, Butler and Gonzaga

They say Davidson should be in and Siena along with Utah, BYU, Utah State, San Diego State, Saint Mary's and UNLV still have work to do.  

This is what they say about the Saints.

Siena [18-5 (12-0), RPI: 21, SOS: 48] If Siena doesn't win the MAAC tournament to earn an automatic bid into the NCAAs, it will be an interesting case study for the selection committee. The computers are giving the Saints a lot of credit for playing a treacherous nonconference schedule, which included road losses at Pittsburgh and Kansas and neutral-court defeats to Tennessee and Oklahoma State. Siena is 0-4 against RPI top-50 foes, but does have seven wins against top-100 opponents. The selection committee probably wouldn't admit it, but the Saints' 83-62 rout of No. 4 seed Vanderbilt in the 2008 NCAA tournament is probably still fresh in some members' mind. 

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Duell not quite ready

Before I touch on Josh Duell's status for this Saturday's Rider game, I have to mention that on top of getting four votes in this weeks Associated Press poll, the Saints are getting some other national attention.

A writer from Sports Illustrated was at the media luncheon today and is planning on attending the Rider game as well. 

Now on to Duell

Siena coach Fran McCaffery said that Duell is still not practicing and is unsure if he'll be ready for Saturday's game. 

Duell didn't travel to New Jersey for Monday's game against Saint Peter's

If you remember last year's game against Rider, Duell hit a 25-foot 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds let to defeat the Broncs 80-77. 

That's the shot that had people start calling him "Big Shot Josh."

Here's what McCaffery said about the fifth-year senior. 

"He's doing some things, shooting, but he's still not cutting and sprinting," McCaffery said. "We haven't tried to do anything in terms of explosion. Every day he's getting a little bit better. We were hoping Saturday would be the game that he could play, but I don't know if he'll play - that might be pushing it."

Duell, who was injured during the Kansas game on Jan. 6, when he was tangled up with teammate Kyle Downey and sprained both the MCL and ACL, has gotten better quicker than first anticipated, but he just can't take that last step. 

"He got a lot better real quick and then now he doesn't seem like he can play yet," McCaffery said. "We're hopeful that if it's not Rider, that it's Monday or Thursday."  

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Danes take on Top Dogs

The University at Albany takes on their toughest conference game of the season on Thursday night when they travel to Boston, to take on the Terriers. 

Boston University is currently in first place in the America East, with a 7-2 conference record and they have won seven of eight games since losing to UAlbany 62-61 back on Jan 8. 

In that game the Terriers played without junior Corey Lowe, quite possible their most talented player. 

Lowe wasn't injured, but was being disciplined by coach Dennis Wolff for being ejected from the team's previous game. 

Boston University also didn't have Carlos Strong or Tyler Morris during that game, both are out with season-ending injuries. 

The Terriers also have talented sophomore John Holland and freshman Jake O'Brien in the mix.  

The Great Danes will have to play their best game and word is that freshman point guard Anthony Raffa may not play or at least won't be at 100 percent. 

Raffa admitted to coach Will Brown that he shouldn't have played in the team's last game - Wednesday against Hartford and he hasn't done any practicing since that game. 

If there's one thing working for UAlbany it's that Boston University is 0-4 at Agganis Arena, losing to George Washington, Marshall, Holy Cross and Vermont

Agganis is the Terriers' larger arena that opened in 2005, they also play at Case Gym

Boston University is 5-1 at Case Gym this year. 

The Great Danes had to play well to beat the Terriers the first time this season and that was at home without one of Boston University's top players. 

I say Boston U. takes this one - Boston U. 75, UAlbany 68 (My record is 15-6) 

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Franklin joins 1,000 club....Saints are 12-0

Congratulations goes out to junior Alex Franklin, who became Siena's 34th member to join the 1,000-point fraternity on Monday in the Saints' 74-63 victory over Saint Peter's.

Here's the list

1. Marc Brown ('91) 2,284
2. Doremus Bennerman ('94) 2,109
3. Kenny Hasbrouck ('09) 1,732
4. Marcus Faison ('00) 1,697
5. Jeffrey Robinson ('90) 1,657
6. Dwayne Archbold ('02) 1,644
7. Michael Haddix ('07) 1,594
8. Eric Banks ('86) 1,432
9. Fred Shear ('73) 1,400
10. Doug Poetzch ('85) 1,398
11. Scott Knapp ('01) 1,381
12. Lee Matthews ('93) 1,365
13. Steve Walters ('76) 1,346
14. Steve McCoy ('89) 1,334
15. Jim Cantamessa ('00) 1,316
16. Rod Brooks ('74) 1,315
17. Bruce Schroeder ('92) 1,290
18. Corey Osinski ('00) 1,288
19. Edwin Ubiles ('10) 1,286
20. Prosper Karangwa ('03) 1,274
21. Bob Hermann ('70) 1,258
22. Michael Catino ('80) 1,238
23. Antonie Jordan ('06) 1,232
24. Kevin McGraw ('82) 1,217
25. Mike Seymour ('70) 1,121
26. Tommy Mitchell ('05) 1,115
27. Matt Brady ('87) 1,106
28. Tim Hill ('56) 1,092
29. Dan Terwilliger ('82) 1,086
30. Mike Brown ('93) 1,083
31. Geoff Walker ('97) 1,044
32. Mark Palinski ('67) 1,030
T-33. Ed Lange ('50) 1,012
T-33. Alex Franklin ('10) 1,012

Junior Ronald Moore also has a chance to reach the 1,000-point mark, next season as a senior. Moore currently has 728 points with over a full season to go.

The fact that these two recruiting classes from coach Fran McCaffery (his first two at Siena) could have produced four 1,000-point scorers speaks to the job he has done.

The Saints also ran their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference record to 12-0 with the win in Jersey City on Monday.

Six league games remain and a big trip back to New Jersey awaits Siena on Saturday when they take on Ride at 1 p.m.

Also, the MAAC put together a record book of their own that was given to me by Siena sports information director Jason Rich.

Here's where Hasbrouck ranks on that list.

1. Keydren Clark, Saint Peter's ('06) 3,058
2. Juan Mendez, Niagara ('05) 2,210
3. Steve Burtt, Iona ('84) 2,153
4. Doremus Bennerman, Siena ('94) 2,109
5. Jerry Johnson, Rider ('05) 2,047
6. Luis Flores, Manhattan ('04) 2,046
7. Jason Thompson, Rider ('08) 2,040
8. Steve Burtt, Iona ('06) 2,034
9. Tony George, Fairfield ('86) 2,006
10. Keith Bullock, Mahattan ('93) 1,992
18. Kenny Hasbrouck, Siena ('09) 1,732

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