Siena enters the Zoo
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)