Thursday, January 29, 2009

McCaffery inspires a Siena victory

Siena coach Fran McCaffery got about as mad that I've seen him in my two years of covering the team during the game on Thursday night.

Playing against the league's worst team (record-wise), the Saints were trailing by as many as eight points in the first half.

McCaffery spent two timeouts and looked like he does at left, but a little redder and more heated.

Still, when senior co-captain Kenny Hasbrouck was asked where that tirade ranked from 1 through 10, this was his response.

“That was a six,” Hasbrouck said. “When he took me out the game, it was an eight.”

The other time Hasbrouck is referring to is when McCaffery almost sent the table next to the Siena bench into orbit after picking it up.

“When Coach gets ticked, he’s serious,” sophomore Clarence Jackson said. “We have leaders like Kenny, who get us going and tell us we need to go out there and execute.”

Here's what McCaffery said about the start of the game.

“We were sputtering a little at the start, obviously still plenty of time (left) and we took care of that deficit in short-order,” McCaffery said.

Hasbrouck said the worst he has ever seen his coach was during his sophomore year at Marist.

“He was dancing up and down the sidelines screaming at us,” Hasbrouck said.

That game in Poughkeepsie and last season, during halftime against Rider at home were the top two tirade's according to Hasbrouck.

Hasbrouck said he's always focused on trying to play to his best, but that McCaffery's tactics do get some of the other players going.

“With him yelling, I think it motivates other people,” Hasbrouck said.

By scoring a game-high 21 points, Hasbrouck surpassed Marcus Faison (2000) and moved into third place on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,699 career points.

“I’m getting respect for the years I’ve put in here, the hard work,” Hasbrouck said. “It’s a great honor. I just want to get a championship out of it.”

The game was very physical and this is what junior Alex Franklin had to say about the battling inside.

“It was a very physical game,” Franklin said. “There were a lot of foul calls and we just had to be the tougher team and the more composed team.”

Most of those fouls were called against Canisius, who had 29 team fouls to Siena's 14.

Labels: , , ,

Game 22: Siena vs. Canisius

Overview: The Saints have played every team in the MAAC at least once, except for tonight's opponent, the Golden Griffins of Canisius. 

Siena is 10-0 in the conference and riding a six-game winning streak. 

The Saints have gone nearly a calendar year without losing at home - their last home loss came against Loyola on Feb. 16, 2008. 

After tonight's game, Siena's next home game is Monday, Feb. 9 vs. those same Greyhounds. 

But back to tonight's game. 

Siena is clearly the favorite and Canisius has struggled on the road (3-9) this season. 

I was fortunate/unfortunate to see perhaps the Golden Griffins worst game of the season, when they lost 74-46 to UAlbany, back on Dec. 13. 

The Griffins seem to be playing better though, they beat Rider by 18 two weeks ago and then beat Marist on the road last week and around those two wins, they've lost three games by a combined 10 points. 

Canisius will also benefit from getting back 6-foot-9 transfer Chris Gadley, who is a load at 320 pounds. 

He had missed six games, before playing against Niagara on Monday, because of a back injury. 

All-conference guard Frank Turner has been the story for the Griffins as of late though. 

Turner has scored 20 or more points in his team's last four games. 

The matchup between him and Siena's Ronald Moore will be one to watch. 

Records: Siena 10-0, 16-5. Canisius 2-8, 7-13. 

Prediction: Siena 83, Canisius 69 (The Saints will just be too strong. My record is 17-4, after a squeaker last time out)

Labels: , ,

Despite rivalry, still friends

We found out about the close connection between Siena's Kenny Hasbrouck and UAlbany's Will Harris during the week leading up to the rivalry game. 

Hasbrouck has been at the last three Great Danes home games, so after UAlbany's 59-50 victory over Hartford, Harris was asked again about the relationship. 

"Me and Kenny Hasbrouck built a real good relationship when we were at Maine Central Institute," Harris said. "We hung out all the time, worked out together all the time - we were basically roommates there. Now that we're close to each other (location-wise), we're just good friends."

Hasbrouck has been sitting in the first row at SEFCU Arena, so Harris was then asked if he had gotten Siena's co-captain season tickets. 

"He just shows up," Harris said. "We talk almost everyday, just trying to keep track of each others season's and support each other."

Harris flat out said that his relationship with Hasbrouck is more important than anything between Siena and UAlbany. 

"Our friendship is a little more important than the rivalry," Harris said. 

Harris had another big game, 19 points and 10 rebounds, against an America East opponent. 

Hartford coach Dan Leibovitz spoke very highly of Harris. 

"He's a good leader," Leibovitz said. "He didn't come up here to lose. He's directing guys to where they should be."

In terms of leading, this is what Harris had to say. 

"I'm the oldest of six, so being a leader is what I've grown up doing," Harris said. "It's not really anything different. When I'm in Albany, I have 12 brothers and I happen to be the oldest one here too."

While the Great Danes defeated the Hawks tonight, UAlbany coach Will Brown said. he wants nothing to do with Hartford in the America East Tournament. 

"Hopefully, we're not playing them in the America East Tournament because the matchups aren't great for us," Brown said. 

Look for a Siena preview tomorrow. 

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Game 21: UAlbany vs. Hartford

Overview: We're expecting to get a ton of snow over the day Wednesday, but I don't think it will be enough to move this game anywhere, unlike it did earlier this season at Sacred Heart. 

The Great Danes will be out to avenge their loss earlier this season, 64-54 on Jan. 3. 

The Hawks have lost six of seven games since that victory, their only win coming against Maine. 

Still, the way UAlbany has played over the course of their last three games, don't expect them to expect a victory. 

"We just lost to Stony Brook and Maine, so we're not taking anybody for granted," senior guard Jerel Hastings said on Tuesday. 

UAlbany coach Will Brown had this to say about some of his key players health heading into this game. 

"Anthony Raffa has not practiced and will be a game-time decision tomorrow," Brown said. "Will Harris practiced gingerly the past two days and Timmy (Ambrose) just walked through stuff yesterday and participated through about half of practice today. Other than that, practice was good."

All three of those guys have been key to UAlbany's success this season and not having any or all at 100 percent or at all could mean other players really have to step it up. 

Brown admitted Tuesday that the Hawks provide a tough matchup for his team. 

"I think this game is going to be a tough game for us because of Hartford's style of play," Brown said. "All that matchup zone and they spread the floor and shoot a lot of three's. We've had trouble with them in previous years and earlier this season."

As for the last game, it seems as if the Great Danes players will be trying to draw off of that loss tonight. 

"Last time we played against them, we didn't really do the best job defensively," Harris said. "This time, we focused a little more on changing a couple of things, so that we are in a better position to get a 'W.'" 

Records: UAlbany 4-3, 12-8. Hartford 2-5, 6-15  

Prediction: UAlbany 65, Hartford 60 (Let's see Hartford is 1-11 on the road, UAlbany is 7-1 at home. One could be anomaly, but 20 is a trend. My record is 14-6)

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Late Game Situations and other things Siena

One day after Siena managed to stay unbeaten in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, coach Fran McCaffery talked about the last 20 seconds, when the Saints fell behind, went ahead and held on. 

After Gary Springer put Iona up one, McCaffery said he didn't want to stop the play. 

"My philosophy is you don't take a timeout - we just go," McCaffery said. "The reason you do that is you know what the defense is going to be, they're going to be in transition mode, they're going to be man-to-man and I got playmakers and we're going to attack. Now, Ronald (Moore) fumbles the ball, we dive on it, we call timeout and now we have to run a play. Normally, I don't want to call a play there, I want to make a play and I trust my guys to do that."

Even though the Siena bench didn't see much action in the second half, McCaffery told Clarence Jackson, Owen Wignot and Kyle Downey after the Niagara game that they needed more playing time.  

"If we're going to be a championship caliber team, you need a bench," McCaffery said.

McCaffery did say though that he sticking with his starters once Iona made the big run.

"Once it got to the point where you could tell it was going to go right down to the wire, I was pretty much going to stay with my guys, my starters," McCaffery said. 

McCaffery also said Tuesday that Wignot hurt his leg and wasn't able to go back in. 

McCaffery said Tuesday that senior Josh Duell is on the way back to being ready to go. 

"In short order, we're going to have Josh back, so that will make us even more difficult to guard," McCaffery said. 

McCaffery said that he thinks it will be a quicker recovery than the one Duell underwent before the start of the season, when he was dealing with an Achilles injury. 

"I could be wrong," McCaffery said. "He's been doing a lot of work in the pool, he's doing a lot of stretching, he's a little thinner and he's been doing a lot of shooting."

Junior Cory Magee still hasn't played in a game this year, but McCaffery said Tuesday that it's been figured out that Magee now is dealing with more complications from the preseason concussion and that he is have inner-ear issues. 

"All you want is for your student-athletes to be healthy," McCaffery said. "I'd love for him to be out there mixing it up and helping us win, but when you have somebody go through what he's going through, you just want him to be healthy and happy in his everyday life."

Magee will now decide if he wants to have surgery, but through it all, McCaffery says he's still kept a positive frame of mind. 

"He's kept it together academically and he's still an integral part of the team," McCaffery said. "He comes to practice, he's in the locker room, the kids love him, so he's impacted the team in a positive way." 

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Willard: Siena at-large bid worthy

Put Iona coach Kevin Willard amongst those who believe Siena should be considered for an at-large bid.

“No offense to the other nine teams, us included, this is the best basketball team in the league,” Willard said of the Saints. “If they’re not being talked about for an at-large bid, they need to be because they’ve played a very tough schedule, they’ve played on the road against a tough schedule and they’ve taken care of business. I don’t see anybody coming in this building, any of the big guys. I think Stanford is the last team that came in here and they got it handed to them last year.”

If Siena wins out, including the BracketBuster game and loses in the MAAC championship game, they would be 27-6 and I believe they should certainly be considered.

After Monday's near defeat though, that discussion shouldn't start anytime soon.

I talked at length about Edwin Ubiles' game-winning shot in Tuesday's paper edition, but here's a little more about the shot.

“I actually didn’t think the play was going to come to me,” Ubiles said. “Kenny (Hasbrouck) had hit two big shots before that, so I thought he was going to get it.”

Once Ubiles got the ball, he made the big play.

“Ubiles is terrific,” Willard said. “He hit a tough shot.”

While I'm sure Willard made some friends amongst Saints fans with his statement above, he won't make any with this. After mentioning that he thinks Siena point guard Ronald Moore is right up near the top of the list in terms of the top point guards in the league, he said this about his point guard, freshman Scott Machado.

“I think I have the best to be honest with you,” Willard said.

Moore and Ryan Rossiter combined to shutdown Iona's game-winning attempt with four seconds to go in a situation, which they said they go over in practice.

“Ronald was key on that play because our goal is not to allow their point guard catch it with a head of steam,” Rossiter said. “Ron cut him off, he had to stop and catch the ball and that really helped."

Rossiter also helped by tipping the ball twice before Machado could handle it.

“Rossiter was unbelievable,” Siena coach Fran McCaffery said. “He’s terrific on the ball.”

Junior Alex Franklin added another thunderous dunk to his resume on Monday.

He gave Siena a 10-point lead with his flush at 5:04 of the first half.

“I’ve just been getting in open lanes and I’m just trying to finish hard,” Franklin said. “I promised Coach (Andrew) Francis I would get him a dunk, so I had to get him one.”

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Rossiter named MAAC Player of the Week

Sophomore Ryan Rossiter had a great game against second place Niagara and he was honored today by being named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Week for the first time in his career.

Rossiter shot 7-for-7 from the field, scored 18 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, blocked five shots, dished out three assists and made two steals.

The five blocks were the most in a game by a Siena player in over eight years and the double-double was the third of Rossiter's career.

The 6-foot-9 forward is the fourth Siena player, joining Kenny Hasbrouck, Edwin Ubiles and Ronald Moore to win the honor this season.

Rossiter and the Saints look to go to 10-0 in the MAAC, in less than 90 minutes, against Iona.

Labels: , ,

Iona should give Siena a fight

Okay, so I got suckered into that poor pun. 

Saturday evening's game between Iona and Manhattan came to blows at Madison Square Garden. 

Here's a portion of the story from the Journal News. 

With 7:57 left in the half and Iona leading 18-9, Manhattan center Herve Banogle horse-collared Iona's Scott Machado, and both hit the floor on Iona's end of the court. Banogle pushed Alejo Rodriguez as he got up, and Iona's third-year sophomore from Mount St. Michael threw a punch. Banogle hit back, and coaches rushed onto the floor to pull the players away from each other. 

The fans stood up, an security rushed to keep them off the floor. After the officials had talked to both Jaspers coach Barry Rohrssen and Gaels coach Kevin Willard, Banogle and Rodriguez were ejected, and Banogle was charged with an intentional four for the action preceding the fist fight. 

Not that the two are related in any way, but it was Kevin Willard's father, Ralph Willard's Holy Cross team that had a but of a run in with Siena earlier this season. 

The Gaels have the early frontrunner for Rookie of the Year in the conference with Machado, who is averaging 9.5 points, a team-best 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game.  

Siena seems to be on quite some roll right now. 

The Saints dismantled Niagara and so far they have yet to be tested at home. 

They are in the Top 20 in RPI and have different players stepping up each night.  

Remember Siena? The Saints were a trendy pick to be a Top 25 team in the preseason. Siena coach Fran McCaffery believed he had one of the best 25 teams in the country. But then the Saints whiffed in three games at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., and it was no surprise that Siena couldn't beat Kansas or Pitt on the road. But the most important thing has always been getting the No. 1 seed in the MAAC. Siena is 9-0 after dispatching second-place Niagara in Albany, 82-65. 

Prediction: Siena 78, Iona 64 (This could be a game where Siena falls, but I don't think at home it will happen. My record is 16-4)

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Raffa battles through injury

ALBANY - Sophomore point guard Anthony Raffa obviously wasn't himself on Sunday, but he still played a significant role.

His 3-pointer after UMBC took a 57-56 lead, their only edge of the second half, was in my mind the biggest shot of the game.

Raffa scored eight points in 21 minutes, but he was in obvious pain with a groin injury on top of a sore ankle and an injured toe.

“I knew I was going to play,” Raffa said. “I guess I wasn’t all the way there because I was still trying to fight through the pain.”

Raffa practiced on Saturday, through what was a long practice and fought through what ended up being a critical win for the Great Danes.

Raffa also said that he felt defensively, UAlbany slowed all-conference player Jay Greene.

“I think me, Mike Johnson and Jerel (Hastings) did a pretty good job on Jay Greene,” Raffa said. “He’s basically their leader and he gets everybody involved and I think we did a good job of denying him the ball.”

While Saturday's practice was supposed to be rough, UAlbany coach Will Brown had this moment of reflection after the game.

“I’ve been part of the problem because I’ve gotten very inpatient with this basketball team,” Brown said. “I don’t like to use excuses, I don’t like to make excuses — if we get beat, we get beat, but I think this team can sense my impatience and sense when I get frustrated and I tried my best tonight, even when they cut it down to one, to relax.”

He then followed later on with this.

“The only thing I asked them since the Stony Brook game, heading into this game, I said ‘All I’m asking you guys give me, is great effort and I’ll work with you,’” Brown said.

Brown also said he can't wait for Wednesday's game to be over because the team will have eight days off and he plans on making some personnel changes.

“I can’t wait until the Hartford game is over with, so I’ve got a week to slide Will Harris down to the power forward spot, so he can learn our sets,” Brown said. “So I can play him and (Brian)Connelly up front and really cause some problems for teams.”

Brown also said something that caught my attention.

UAlbany is 9-0 when they score more than 65 points in a game. What's even more interesting is that they are 0-3 when they score 64.

Labels: , , , ,

Game 20: UAlbany vs. UMBC

The Great Danes definitely need one this afternoon against the defending league champions. 

It should be a good one. 

Since this is so close to game time, I'll just give a prediction.

UAlbany 68, UMBC 63 (This is a hard game to pick because both teams need a win. My record is 13-6)

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saints head and shoulders above the MAAC

ALBANY - Siena's 82-65 defeat of Niagara marked a couple of things.

First, it is Siena's ninth win in 10 games and 13th consecutive home win, dating back to last season, when the Saints lost to Rider 89-75 at home Feb. 2, 2008.

The Saints now have a 3.5 game lead on both Niagara and Rider, who are 5-3 and are off to the best start in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play since 1989-90 when LaSalle went 16-0.file:///Users/andrewsantillo/Desktop/Downey.jpg

They led throughout on Saturday and were never really threatened by the Purple Eagles.

"When they had open shots, they made them, they need to get a rebound, they got it, they need to dribble drive for a basket, they did it," Niagara coach Joe Mihalich said. "At the other end, we did not do that."

This put it a little more succinctly.

"They beat us every which way," Mihalich said.

Sophomore Ryan Rossiter was doing much of the beating. On top of 18 points and 12 rebounds, the 6-foot-9 forward added five blocks to the mix.

"I'm definitely more comfortable than I was last year," Rossiter said. "Playing with these guys last year, sometimes I was in awe of what they were able to do, so I kind of took a backseat, but this year, I'm just trying to get in there and do what I can to help the team."

Both coaches couldn't say enough good things about Rossiter.

"He's good at both ends," Mihalich said. "He has a presence up there and good instincts."

Rossiter is now averaging 9.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

"Coach (Andrew) Francis always tells me to attack the glass and (Siena) Coach (Fran McCaffery) always tells me that, so it definitely helps to get some cheap rebounds on tip-outs and what not," Rossiter said. "I know that's my role on this team, to get rebounds, so that's what I try to do."

Mihalich referred to something fomer NBA coach and Schenectady native Pat Riley does, which is track who attacks the glass after each shot.

"I'll be you he's almost 100 percent," Mihalich said. "Every time a shot goes up, he goes after it and that's what the really good players do."

Rossiter drew some big-time credit from his teammtes.

"He put on some moves tonight," said junior Edwin Ubiles, who scored two more points than Rossiter's 18. "He was on fire and we kept going to him."

Speaking of Ubiles, this is what McCaffery had to say about the 6-foot-7 wing's game-high 20 points.

"Eddie's amazing," McCaffery said. "I don't know how you get a quiet 20 (points), but he did. He just does what he does."

Ubiles scored 10 in each half and really did do a lot of damage without a lot of the electricity and intensity he can sometimes score with.

"I was patient and my points came over time," Ubiles said.

Coming off a week layoff and playing much earlier than they have been recently, Siena still came right out of the gate with energy.

Siena made 10 of their first 11 shots and maybe it's because they took it easy on Friday night.

"The key to that is getting rest, go to bed early and that's what I did last night," Ubiles said.

Ubiles said he went to bed at 11 p.m., "early" by his standards, especially for a Friday night.

Siena is now 9-0, halfway home and still without a loss in conference play.

Still, there were no thoughts about looking ahead of Monday's date with Iona.

"Iona," was all McCaffery replied to when asked about looking at a more grander scale. "That's it."

His players got the memo.

"We're looking forward to Iona now," Rossiter said. "We got a good win today and we're taking it one game at a time."

Labels: , , , , , ,

Game 20: Siena vs. Niagara

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: , , , ,

Friday, January 23, 2009

Disappointing Loss for Danes

Understandably, UAlbany coach Will Brown was very disappointed with hie team's performance on Friday night.

In fact, so much so that he didn't allow any of his players to speak to the media following the game.

Here's what Brown said initially.

“I’m as disappointed and embarrassed as I’ve been since the Harvard game here a couple of years ago,” Brown said.

I had to do some digging, but that comment referred to a 61-48 home loss on Dec. 17, 2005. That UAlbany team went on to make the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Stony Brook
is much improved, but still a team that the Great Danes should have been able to handle, at least looking at the records.

Here's what Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell had to say.

“We play hard on defense, we take pride in that,” Pikiell said. “I think our young kids have bought into that and we made enough plays down the stretch to win the game.”

The Great Danes didn't get enough out of Tim Ambrose, Anthony Raffa and Will Harris, who three games ago, UAlbany fans were ready to proclaim as the top trio in all of college basketball.

“We’re not going to win a whole lot of games with Timmy playing 15 minutes because of foul trouble,” Brown said. “Will was just out there trying to give us minutes. He had an IV before the game and was a question mark going in with the flu and Raffa struggled as well.”

Brown said he wouldn't take it lightly on his team on Saturday, even with a game against defending conference champion UMBC coming on Sunday.

"I'm not even concerned with us being fresh or read for Sunday's game," Brown said. "(Saturday) we'll go over the UMBC scout, watch some film, which will take about 30 minutes and then we'll probably go a good 2 1/2 to 3 hours and we'll see if it does any good heading into Sunday."

As a bonus, we got a scouting report on UMBC, UAlbany's next opponent, from Pikiell after the game.

"They're good," Pikiell said. "They're an experienced team. We tried to run a lot of players at them, they don't play a lot of guys, so we tried to kind of wear them down a little bit, but I don't have any magic potion, you just have to get your guys up to play against a good, seasoned basketball team."

Can you jinx something purely by thinking about it?

I was getting ready to write in this space about how both local teams (Siena and UAlbany) haven't lost at home.

Coming into this game, Siena was 8-0 at home, while UAlbany was 6-0...errr now 6-1.
What can you do?

I guess not think about things before you write them.

Siena players Kenny Hasbrouck, Alex Franklin and Erik Harris all had first row seats for the game.

If my memory serves me correctly, Hasbrouck has been to two of the last three UAlbany home games.

Labels: , , , , ,

Siena/Niagara almost a sellout

As of 3:45 on Friday afternoon, the ticket count for Saturday's noon tip-off between the Saints and Purple Eagles was up to 7,079, according to Siena sports information director Jason Rich.

The building's capacity with the tarps in place is 8,065.

Siena (8-0, 14-5) and Niagara (5-2, 14-5) are the top two teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The game can also be viewed on MSG.

Labels: , ,

UAlbany/Stony Brook Prediction

UAlbany 71, Stony Brook 63 (UAlbany looks to go to 7-0 at home. My record is 13-5)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Game 19: UAlbany vs. Stony Brook

The blog has been quiet over the last few days, but should be picking up as Friday's game between UAlbany and Stony Brook marks a six-game in seven days stretch for both the Great Danes and Siena

ALBANY - Freshman Anthony Raffa had one word to describe this week's practices. 

"Tough," the 6-foot University at Albany point guard said on Thursday.   

That was expected though after the Great Danes fell at then last place Maine

"I feel like we can't take any more days off," said Raffa, referring to last Saturday's game.

UAlbany (3-2, 11-7) again faces the last place team in Stony Brook (1-4, 9-9) on Friday at SEFCU Arena. 

"I don't look at Stony Brook as being in last place right now," UAlbany coach Will Brown said. "I look at them and what problems do they potentially cause our team and how we can counter that."

The Seawolves are led by two newcomers in junior college transfer Muhammad El-Amin and freshman Bryan Dougher

"They're a good team," Raffa said

UAlbany has been led since the conference season began by junior Will Harris

Harris is averaging 17.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in the five conference games this season. 

"Will Harris can't be the only individual on this team that has any sense of urgency consistently and that's what we've had since Christmas time," Brown said. "We've had other guys that have showed it in spurts, but we need a sense of urgency from 13 guys every minute of every day and that's when we'll become pretty good."

Something that Brown said on Thursday caught my attention. 

"We've played better against the more talented teams in our league," Brown said

In fact, UAlbany has. 

Their three wins have come against opponents with a combined record of 13-6, while their two losses have come against teams with a 5-7 combined record.

As the resident Philadelphia fan, Raffa was asked about the Eagles loss, on Thursday. 

"We should have got a few penalties at the end of the game," Raffa said. "(Roderick) Hood, who was an ex-Eagle took out (Kevin) Curtis' legs and it should have been a penalty, but it wasn't." 

Raffa said he wasn't blaming the officials, but he thought the call should have been made.  

As if four overtimes weren't enough for Boston U. on Monday, they used two more on Thursday to defeat UMBC

With that said, here are the up to date America East standings.  

Binghamton 5-2, 12-7
Vermont 4-2, 13-6
Boston U. 4-2, 9-9
UAlbany 3-2, 11-7
Maine 3-3, 8-11
New Hampshire 2-3, 7-10
UMBC 2-4, 8-10
Hartford 2-4, 6-14
Stony Brook 1-4, 9-9

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Game 19: Siena vs. Fairfield

Overview: After stealing a game from Marist on Friday, it'll be interesting to see how the Saints come out this afternoon against Fairfield. 

They should be realizing that they have to play their hardest every game, especially on the road, but they could come out slow again because they were rewarded for not playing their best last time out.

Either way, this should be a great game. 

The Stags have won four in a row and find themselves at 5-2, one-half game ahead of both Rider and Niagara, who are 4-2. 

So far this season, Siena has found ways to win games even when they didn't play their best, while every other team in the league has had played poorly and lost. 

After Niagara lost their second game in a row on Thursday against Iona, after a 4-0 start, coach Joe Mihalich said this to The Buffalo News.   

"We got off to a good start here and people think that we've separated ourselves - maybe we even think that - that we've separated from the rest (of the conference)," Mihalich said. "We haven't. It's Siena and everybody else."

Siena and Niagara meet on Saturday, Jan. 24 at noon on MSG in Albany

Records: Siena 7-0, 13-5. Fairfield 4-2, 12-6

Injury Report: According to at least once source, Fairfield senior Jonathan Han broke his nose in Thursday's game against Saint Peter's. 

On the Siena side, Josh Duell (ACL, MCL) and Cory Magee (concussion) didn't make the trip to Marist, so one would assume since the team didn't return home, those two are also not in Bridgeport today.  

Prediction: Siena 83, Fairfield 75 (My record is 14-4) 

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 16, 2009

Game 18: UAlbany vs. Maine

Overview: The Great Danes embarked today on what coach Will Brown calls an 8-movie trip (four movies up, four movies back) today when they left for Orono, Maine today at 9:30 a.m.

Eleven hours later, they should be resting comfortably in whichever hotel they are staying at and hopefully the heat works (it's supposed to get to -20 tonight in Orono - that's not wind chill).

UAlbany has played against and beaten some of the stiffest competition in the America East (Vermont, Binghamton, Boston U.), but now they must go on the road where they are expected to win and do so.

The Black Bears only conference victory came against Stony Brook, who the Great Danes haven't faced, but will in their next game (at home on Friday, Jan. 23).

Maine has some good players in junior Mark Socoby, who was a third-team all-conference selection last season and freshman Gerald McLemore, who is averaging in double figures in his first collegiate season.

Records: UAlbany 3-1, 11-6. Maine 1-3, 6-11

The Series: The all-time series is tied 7-7, but the Great Danes have won seven of the last eight matchups.

Player to Watch: Will Harris, junior UAlbany. Harris is averaging 17.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in America East play. Bears.....beware.

Prediction: UAlbany 68, Maine 62 (The Great Danes have typically played up or down to their competition. My record is 13-4)

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Game 18: Siena vs. Marist

Overview: The Saints look for their best start in MAAC history tonight at the McCann Center. The game is at 7:30 p.m. and can be seen around here on channel 3 Time Warner. 
These two teams have had some wars at McCann in the past few years (Kenny Hasbrouck's 35-point game helping Siena win in overtime last year comes to mind). 

While the Red Foxes were selected to finish 10th in the conference, they certainly haven't been playing like it. 

They dismantled Niagara on Sunday at home and are shooting almost 40 percent from 3-point land.  

Siena has Fairfield and the Purple Eagles up next, so this is a big game to make sure to get. 

Records: Siena 6-0, 12-5. Marist 3-3, 7-11  

Player to Watch: Ryan Schneider, senior Marist. I know Schneider has been playing well, but I was shocked when Siena coach Fran McCaffery said Tuesday that he was playing as good as anyone in the country right now. The 6-foot-7 forward, who used to room with Josh Duell at Vermont, is averaging 16.3 point and 8.8 rebounds, while shooting better than 40 percent from the field and beyond the arc and playing more than 37 minutes per game. Schneider is also averaging almost three 3-pointers per game. 

Prediction: Siena 81, Marist 71 (The Saints won by 17 earlier this season - this should be closer. My record is 13-4) 

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

UAlbany's trio of ???

ALBANY - The Great Danes' trio of Will Harris, Anthony Raffa and Tim Ambrose combined for 59 of UAlbany's 72 points in Wednesday nights big victory over Binghamton.

At the end of the game this is what UAlbany coach Will Brown said.

"I joked around out there, the (New York) Giants have Earth, Wind and Fire, I guess we have to come up with something for Ambrose, Harris and Raffa," Brown said.

Brown went on to say that he couldn't let Raffa picked the name because he would come up with something like the "Three Paesans."

While the three have been big and I mean big in getting UAlbany out to a 3-1 conference record and 11-6 overall, the program's best start through 17 games, I think we should hold off on the nicknames just for a few more games.

Brown said he was prepared to play 40 minutes of zone basketball, even though he hates it because the Great Danes had to do it to win.

"I can't stand it, but we had to play it," Brown said.

The zone kept the Bearcats out of the lane a lot and forced them to pass the ball around the perimeter.

While Binghamton coach Kevin Broadus didn't necessarily think it was the zone's effectiveness that hurt his team, I think it did give them some issues.

"We were getting lay-ups, we just couldn't make them," Broadus said. "It wasn't the zone that gave us problems, we gave ourselves problems."

While there was no pushing and shoving, there was some jabs thrown by the fans.

One fan had a sign that read "Broome Country Jail, SUNY Binghamton Annex," which most of the crowd didn't see because that fan was asked to now show it before the game (I believe).

That same fan had another sign that read "Broadus, don't push me too," or something to that affect.

As far as between the two schools, Coach Broadus and Brown exchanged a hand shake before the game and everything was pretty civil between the lines.

"That's a championship caliber team," said Broadus about UAlbany following the game. "Hopefully, it comes down to a third game."

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

First place showdown - Game 17: UAlbany vs. Binghamton

ALBANY - While the University at Albany players agreed on Tuesday that it was a little early to be talking about first place, that's exactly where the Great Danes would sit in the America East if they can knock of Binghamton on Wednesday.

"I think we have enough talent to win an America East Conference Tournament," UAlbany coach Will Brown said Tuesday. "I'm still learning about this team and I want to see if have what to takes to win an America East regular season (title), if we can do over it 16 games and maintain our focus."

The Great Danes (2-1, 10-6) take on a Bearcats (3-0, 10-5) team that has won six of their last seven and seems to be coming together at the right time.

"We knew from the beginning that this team had a lot of talent," said senior co-captain Brian Connelly of Binghamton.

While Brown says he doesn't consider this a rivalry (see below), this has become a heated series.

In last year's game in Vestal, the postgame handshake turned into an all-out shoving match that led to both Binghamton coach Kevin Broadus and UAlbany assistant coach Chad O'Donnell being suspended for one game apiece.

"What happened, happed," Connelly said. "It's two totally different teams pretty much and I think it's water under the bridge at this point."

While Binghamton has a local player in Troy's Tiki Mayben (who my story in Tuesday's print edition focused on), they are led by Saint Joseph's transfer, D.J. Rivera.

Rivera leads the conference with 21.3 points per game.

"He's always in attack mode," Brown said. "He scores in a variety of ways."

Brown stressed the importance of not getting caught up in Binghamton's style of play.

"I think the way they want to play is kind of like a pickup game almost, up and down the court, fastbreaking," Connelly said. "That's not our style of play. It never has been. We're more on the defensive end I would say and play more team basketball."

One of the major reasons UAlbany is playing for first place has been the play of Will Harris.

The 6-foot-6 junior transfer is averaging 17 points and 9.7 rebounds in America East play (see below for more on that).

"I want us to have a good season and tournament, so we can do some good things," Harris said.
Brown said he talked to his team about breaking the conference schedule into four parts, the first of which could end tonight with UAlbany in first place.

"I think our guys are feeling pretty good right now an they're anxious to play tomorrow night," Brown said.

Here's what Brown had to say about this not really being a rivalry.

"I don't think so," Brown said. "I think rivalries are either what you have with Albany and Siena as far as a local rivalry, where everybody's involved from alumni to students to administration or in your league, a rivalry is a team you've played meaningful games against, so for me I look at Vermont because we've played meaningful games against them that had championship implications and to a lesser extent B.U. (Boston)."

Harris said his streak of two conference double-doubles shouldn't have ended Sunday in Vermont.

"I feel like I had a double-double actually," said Harris about his 20-point, 9-rebound performance. "Coach (Pat) Filien told me I had six rebounds at halftime, so I had to have at least 10 or 11 rebounds, so somebody messed up on the stats and I kind of want to get that changed."

If anyone's listing in Burlington.

As far an injuries go, Brown said that Harris practiced Monday and Tuesday, Connelly still hasn't practiced and Louis Barraza doesn't have a fracture in his heel or foot.

"I think everybody should be good to go," Brown said.

Prediction: UAlbany 74, Binghamton 70
(No pushing this time either. My record is 12-4. UAlbany is 5-0 at home. I'll take a loss for the Vermont game since I didn't have a selection)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Siena No. 8 in SI Mid-Major poll

The Saints have deflected a lot of preseason hype and after a disappointing trip to Orlando, their only losses have come against top-ranked Pitt and defending national champion Kansas.

Just out on Sports Illustrated, Siena is ranked No. 8 in the national mid-major poll

8. Siena (12-5)
- The Saints put up a good fight at Kansas in a 91-84 loss, hitting 10 threes and nearly erasing a 20-point deficit. Siena has won 10 of 12, losing at Pittsburgh and Kansas.

Also, I would be remiss without mentioning that junior point guard Ronald Moore was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Week after averaging 14.7 points, 6.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds in three games this past week.

Moore scored 18 against Kansas, 13 against Rider and then 13 more against Manhattan.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 12, 2009

Big Sunday for local teams

It was a big Sunday in the MAAC and a big Sunday as well for the University at Albany

Currently I'm watching the Marist/Niagara game (you have to love DVR) to see how the Red Foxes, Siena's opponent Thursday night, handed the Purple Eagles their first league loss. 

Right now, it seems as Marist did their damage from downtown. 

In a day where all 10 MAAC teams played, four of the games were decided by a combined 10 points and then there was this game that I'm watching

It doesn't even seem as if the game was as close as the 18-point margin of victory suggests. It was 40-19 and the Red Foxes continue to poor it on.  

There were also what I would call two upsets, Marist winning and Saint Peter's sending Jimmy Patsos' Loyola team to 1-5 in the conference. 

Then you have Rider and Fairfield just barely winning games at home 

The Saints are off to what ties their best conference start in school history, 6-0, after fending off Manhattan 68-64. 

Siena continues to get big efforts from players who aren't usually called on to step. Erik Harris' five points in 14 minutes comes to mind kind of like Steven Priestley's effort against Saint Peter's and Clarence Jackson's against Saint Joseph's. 

Meanwhile, UAlbany won for the third time ever at Patrick Gymnasium, and three in a row since the 2007 America East championship game. 

Will Harris has been on a tear since the conference schedule has began. 

The junior transfer from Virginia is averaging 17 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in the Great Danes' three America East games. 

Anthony Raffa continues to impress - he led UAlbany with 22 points and the Great Danes held Marqus Blakely to just 11 points. 

Overall, it was a big day for Siena, who's in first by their lonesome and UAlbany who will play in a first place showdown against Binghamton on Wednesday at SEFCU Arena. 

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hasbrouck "more like himself"

While senior Kenny Hasbrouck hasn't played great all season, he's certainly come around in the last few games.

Since he laid a goose egg against Pitt, he is averaging 13.6 points per game and on Friday he passed former teammate Michael Haddix ('07) and moved into sixth on the school's all-time scoring list.

Hasbrouck currently sits at 1,605 points.

"It's another accomplishment," said Hasbrouck, who didn't know about it until he was told. "I just want to do whatever I can do to win."

Hasbrouck said that he probably wouldn't have passed Haddix if not for the injuries Haddix sustained.

"He missed a year and a half, so he probably would have had 2,000 some points, which I'm probably not going to reach," Hasbrouck said.

Hasbrouck was the preseason Player of the Year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and his leadership has far surpassed what he contributes in the score sheet.

"You're seeing him be more like himself," Siena coach Fran McCaffery said. "For our team to accomplish what we set out to accomplish, we need that."

Hasbrouck said that some of the things Rider said in the preseason are hung up in the Siena locker room at the ARC and they still felt like they had something to prove.

One in particular gave Hasbrouck a nice chuckle.

Sophomore Mike Ringgold said something to the effect of Jason Thompson, who was the 12th selection and is now playing the NBA, made Rider a worse defensive team.

"I was baffled by the one where they said Jason Thompson made them a bad defensive team," Hasbrouck said. "That was hilarious to me.”

Just to remind you, Thompson was the league's Defensive Player of the Year during his junior and senior seasons.

Freshman Kyle Downey
was one of five Siena players in double figures with 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting in 11 minutes.

Downey has continued to impress in his rookie campaign and drew these words from McCaffery following Friday's game.

"He doesn't play like a freshman," McCaffery said. "He just doesn't."

McCaffery said it will be even more important for Downey, sophomore Clarence Jackson and freshman Owen Wignot to continue to play well if they want to play a smaller lineup because they are thin up front with Josh Duell and Cory Magee out with injuries.

Labels: , , , , ,

Game 16: Siena vs. Rider

Overview: This is a rematch of the 2008 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament championship and the two teams the split the regular season title. 

Not much has to be said as they two teams know each other quite well now. 

For anyone who thinks the Saints are going to dominate see Feb. 2, 2008. On that day, Rider came in and totally deflated Siena on ESPN2. 

That was the Saints' last home loss as they have strung together 11 straight wins in Albany.   

Records: Siena 4-0, 10-5. Rider 3-0 8-5 

The Series: Siena leads the all-time series 19-9 - including five of seven during Siena coach Fran McCaffery's four seasons 

Player to Watch: Ryan Thompson, junior Rider. He's not 6-foot-11 like his brother, Jason, who just had his jersey retired in the Broncs last home game and plays for the Sacramento Kings, but he's almost as much of a handful. Thompson is averaging team-bests 16.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.    

McCaffery voted for Thompson as Rookie of the Year two seasons ago and at 6-6, Thompson's only gotten better. 

"He's a guy who could ultimately be Player of the Year in this league," McCaffery said. "He's a matchup problem anywhere because he's going to play 1, 2, 3, 4. He's got size as a 2, you know he's versatile as a 4. Last year was the first time they really started giving him the ball and running high ball screens for him and he was a handful for just about everybody and they're still doing that."

Injury Report: Josh Duell is out 3-6 weeks with sprains of both the MCL and ACL.  

Prediction: Siena 78, Rider 68 (The Saints have added significant pieces to their puzzle, while the Broncs are missing their biggest one from last year. My record is 12-3) 

Labels: , , , ,

Wolff is a class act

I haven't had too many interactions with Boston University men's basketball coach Dennis Wolff. 

What Wolff did on Thursday in his team's conference opener at the University at Albany though certainly showed his character and what he's made of. 

Wolff benched star player Corey Lowe because he had received two technicals in B.U.'s previous game against Holy Cross

Lowe was healthy, unlike Tyler Morris and Carlos Strong, two of the Terriers' top players, who had just recently suffered season-ending injuries. 

Even with the game still in doubt with seconds remaining, Wolff stuck by his principles and didn't put Lowe, who dressed and warmed up, into the game. 

Wolff again had his team selected as the top team in the conference heading into the season and again they have been hit with a slew of injuries. 

Nothing was keeping Lowe out of the game. In fact, Wolff certainly wouldn't have been criticized if he just brought Lowe off of the bench, or heck benched him for the first half. 

But that's the point. 

Too often coaches decision-making is skewed by W's and L's and not by what is right. 

Most coaches probably wouldn't have seen the need to take further action, especially against their best player because winning the game would be jeopardized. 

Not Wolff. In fact, he said it didn't even cross his mind whether to play Lowe. 

"You never know what the future holds in your coaching career," Wolff said following the game. "I've always tried to do what I think is the right thing."

Wolff's team may not have won the game on Thursday night, but the veteran coach is a winner in my book all the way. 

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Duell out three to six weeks

Siena senior co-captain Josh Duell had an MRI on Wednesday and the results were not terrible, but could have been better.

According to the preliminary reports, Duell has a Grade 2 MCL sprain and an ACL sprain (not tear) along with bone bruising in the area.

The prognosis is a three to six-week recovery period.

If this is the case, then

Duell collided with teammate Kyle Downey during the Kansas game on Tuesday night and has been on crutches since.

Here's what Siena coach Fran McCaffery said about the injury earlier today.

"I’m hopeful that it’s just a sprain (and we) can get that thing healed up and get him back on the floor. Obviously it’s a blow to our team, but when you have a guy like Josh Duell you feel really bad. You watch how hard he’s worked to overcome injuries he’s had, and now he’s playing great and having a lot of fun his senior year. I feel bad for him. I hope we can get him to the point where he can help us at some point."

The Saints play tomorrow night on ESPNU against Rider.

Labels: , , ,

Game 15: UAlbany vs. Boston U.

Overview: This game should be a good measuring stick for the Great Danes as they go up against the preseason No. 1 team in the America East Conference.

While UAlbany is 4-0 at home, they have lost two games in a row, including Saturday's conference opener at Hartford.

The Terriers meanwhile could be without star junior Corey Lowe, who could possible be benched by veteran coach Dennis Wolff after getting ejected from Boston U.'s last game, Friday, Jan. 2 agianst Holy Cross.

There are also rumors now that they could be without starter Tyler Morris and sixth man Carlos Strong for the remainder of the year.

We'll see if any or all of these players play this evening.

Records: UAlbany 0-1, 8-6. Boston U. 0-0, 5-7

The Series: The Terriers hold the all-time series 9-7. What's interesting though is Boston U. won the first eight from 2002-2005, while UAlbany has won seven of the last eight.

Player to Watch: Will Harris, junior UAlbany. Harris has played well so far this season, he's averaging 10.5 points and a team-best 5.1 rebounds, but hasn't been the game-changer that I think people were hoping for. In the team's first conference game against Hartford, Harris had 17 points and 10 rebounds and coach Will Brown says Harris has been a different player since having an extensive conversation with his mother over the Christmas holiday. We'll see if his good play becomes a trend or his play remains inconsistent tonight.

X-factor: Rebounding. Brown did my work for me when talking to him yesterday. In the three matchups from last year against the Terriers, the Great Danes won two. In those games they outrebounded Boston U. by an average of 14.5 per game. In the America East quarterfinals loss the Terriers had the rebounding edge, 37-31. This won't necessarily determine who wins, but it could be a huge factor.

Injury Report: For Boston U., look above, as both Morris and Strong could possibly be out this evening.

For UAlbany, Brian Connelly (heel) hasn't practiced since the Kansas game on Dec. 30, Harris has missed two of the last three days with a problem in the arch of his foot and senior Jimmie Covington (shoulder) is out as he still can't lift his arm above his head, also stemming from the Kansas game. Brown said he hopes Covington could practice by Saturday and be ready possibly for Wednesday's home game against Binghamton.

Prediction: UAlbany 68, Boston U. 61 (UAlbany is 4-0 at home. The Great Danes are trying to snap a two-game losing streak and I'm hoping to avoid my first losing skid of the year. My record is 11-3)

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Zeglinski done for the season

According to the Hartford Courant, Hartford junior guard Joe Zeglinski is done for the season after what was originally was listed as a sprained left ankle has now been diagnosed as a tendon tear and will require surgery.   

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 5, 2009

Game 15: Siena vs. Kansas

Overview: In my story in Tuesday's paper I talk about senior co-captain Josh Duell's connection with historic Allen Fieldhouse.

Duell played his first collegiate game at No. 1 Kansas when he was with the University of Vermont.

Duell and the Catamounts almost pulled off the upset too, losing 67-61.

His connection isn't the only. Junior forward Alex Franklin told me he's played against the Morris twins, Markeiff and Marcus, who are both from Philadelphia.

Obviously the Saints will have their hands full as they travel to Lawrence to take on the defending national champions.

Siena seems to have turned a corner since losing three games in four days at the Old Spice Classic in November.

Since then, they are 8-1 and the only loss comes to newly ranked No. 1 (and first time in school history) Pitt (14-0).

While the Jayhawks still aren't ranked and lost all five starters from last season's title-winning team, they are definitely one of the best teams Siena will play this season.

"For us, I look at it as a great opportunity to measure our ability to stay composed on the road," Siena coach Fran McCaffery said.

This should be a good one.

Records: Siena 10-4. Kansas 10-3

The Series: These two teams have never met.

Player to Watch: Cole Aldrich, sophomore Kansas. Aldrich is still young, but you wouldn't know it. He's averaging 14.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. On Saturday, he scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Tennessee. Aldrich is 6-11, but is athletic and could have a big day against whoever Siena has to play up front.

X-factor: 3-point shooting: You can't win big games without getting big shots. Siena's shooting just 29.9 percent from beyond the 3-point line. In their four losses, the Saints are shooting 20.3 percent (12-59) from downtown. To go on the road against a more-talented team and win, you need to hit big shots. Tay Fisher proved he could do that and while Siena still has players capable of doing just that, they haven't shown it so far this season in a big, close game.

Injury Report: At this point it seems like everyone on Siena could be in this category and we joked about holding our breath when going into the locker room after the Saint Peter's game.

Apparently Duell and Ryan Rossiter (stomach bug) both feel better and should be able to play. Erik Harris (knee) and Cory Magee (concussion) probably won't see action.

Prediction: Kansas 77, Siena 71 (Call me crazy, but I see this game being close. My record is 11-3)

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Priestley gets a chance to shine

ALBANY - Siena sophomore Steven Priestley had an idea that he could be in the starting lineup when the Saints took on Saint Peter's on Sunday.

The 6-foot-5 Baldwin, N.Y. native had practiced with the green team for the past couple of days because of the sicknesses of sophomore Ryan Rossiter and senior Josh Duell.

"I had some jitters this (Sunday) morning, but I just know to stay calm, play to my strengths and away from weaknesses and I'll be fine," Priestley said.

Priestley then heard his name announced in the starting five for the first time in his Siena career.
"It's the greatest feeling," Priestley said. "Nothing's going to compare to that feeling."

Priestley followed that up by scoring the first basket, a put-back off of an Edwin Ubiles miss.

"I just tried to go out there and play because when you think about it too much then you start messing up and then you're thinking about making mistakes," Priestley said.

Priestley finished with four points, eight rebounds and one block.

"He's been getting closer," Siena coach Fran McCaffery said. "It's a longer process for certain players when they come in to where they can contribute like that. He just has stayed after it."

"Steve's been playing against four of the best players in our league for two years now," Duell said. "Every day in practice he plays hard, he comes with intensity and energy and I can't say enough about his performance (today)."

Although Duell suited up, he didn't look very comfortable on the bench and McCaffery said his senior co-captain was hooked up to an intravenous before the game so he could play if needed.

"I think if I needed to, I could have mustered some strength to get out there," said Duell following the game.

Duell and Rossiter, who didn't even make it to the bench, are both fighting through a stomach bug, which has gone around almost every player on the team.

"I had it at Holy Cross," junior Alex Franklin said. "I didn't get it as bad as they (Rossiter and Duell) got it, I had the mini-bug. It's hard to deal to with, I played through it, but I'm glad it's out of my system now."

McCaffery said the only four players who haven't gotten it are Kenny Hasbrouck, Kyle Downey, Ronald Moore and Ubiles.

"I try not to think about it," said Ubiles, when asked if he thought he could be next. "Cory (Magee) asked me about that today. I just try to stay healthy, keep lots of fluids in me and hopefully I don't catch it."

McCaffery said he thought that both Rossiter and Duell should be able to play at Kansas, but it was too early to tell for sure.

Meanwhile, the Saints continue to show that they are pretty deep despite having a very talented starting five.

"That just shows how deep we are and the tremendous athletes and talent on this team," Priestley said.

While he was a little anxious, Priestley just wanted to make sure he was ready going into the game.

"One thing I wanted to do was not go in the game with jitters," Priestley said. "I tried to relax myself before the game, just make sure I was relaxed and calm, so I could remember what coach told me and stick to the gameplan."

His teammates were also plenty happy for him.

"Steve did a great job today," Duell said. "He's really ready for this opportunity and he played great. He did what he had to do."

Priestley was happy with how he played and is just hoping to continue to do whatever is needed of him.

"I just want to go back and get another one," said Priestley of Sunday's win. "Whatever I can do for us as a team to help us get us back to where we were last year and produce more is what I want to do."

Labels: , , , , , , ,

No Rossiter or Duell in sight (updated)

We're about 20 minutes from game time between Siena and Saint Peter's. 

The Saints are warming up minus Cory Magee, who's become a season-long spectator so far due to a preseason concussion.

They are also without Ryan Rossiter and Josh Duell, who are both apparently suffering from a stomach bug. 

Rossiter also has a sore ankle that he tweaked in the Holy Cross game on Tuesday, Dec. 30. 

It looks as sophomore Steven Priestley will be making his first career start.  

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Game 14: Siena vs. Saint Peter's

I'm running short on time because of a doubleheader at Saint Rose today, so here's the game cap that will run in Sunday's paper.

SAINT PETER’S (1-2, 4-9) at SIENA (3-0, 9-4)
Where: Times Union Center (8,065), Albany
When: 2 p.m.
Radio: WROW – 590-AM (Robert Lee, Tom Huerter)
Probable Starters
Saint Peter’s Ht. Yr. Ppg.

22 Nick Leon 5-11 So. 14.4
15 Wesley Jenkins 6-2 So. 16.5
31 Akeem Gooding 6-4 Jr. 5.9
2 Ismaila Traore 6-6 Sr. 2.5
4 Ryan Bacon 6-7 So. 9.4
25 Ronald Moore 5-11 Jr. 8.5
41 Kenny Hasbrouck 6-3 Sr. 11.8
23 Edwin Ubiles 6-7 Jr. 15.0
42 Alex Franklin 6-5 Jr. 13.8
22 Ryan Rossiter 6-9 So. 8.7
Notable: The Saints have won 10 consecutive home games, the longest streak since a stretch that began with the final game of the 1998-99 season. This year’s Siena team is 1-3 when not playing at night. Sophomore Ryan Rossiter is nursing a sore ankle that caused him to play only 16 minutes against Fairfield on Thursday. The Peacocks’ lone conference win came by 24 points of Canisius back in December. Saint Peter’s has lost four of their last five games after winning two in a row.

Predicition: Siena 80, Saint Peter's 62 (If this game is close, I will be surprised and Siena will be looking ahead to an early flight Monday and a date with Kansas on Tuesday. My record is 10-3. I'll take a loss for the Fairfield game, since I was in Montreal and didn't have any prediction)

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 2, 2009

Game 14: UAlbany vs. Hartford

Overview: With 13 games in the books, the Great Danes now turn their attention to America East Conference play for the duration of the season. 

Step one starts tomorrow in Hartford against the Hawks. 

Hartford has had a murderous schedule, which has included Penn State, Connecticut, Baylor and Stanford (oh and a 40-point loss to Niagara).

On top of that, the Hawks have played their last three games without junior Joe Zeglinski, who is the team's leading scorer and rebounder. 

The Great Danes have played some tough teams as well like Villanova, DePaul and Kansas.

This should be a good matchup and should tell a lot about UAlbany's chances in this league this season.  

Records: UAlbany 0-0, 8-5. Hartford 0-0, 4-9 

The Series: UAlbany leads the all-time series 13-6, including eight of the last night meetings 

X-factor: Rebounding. UAlbany is +7 on the boards and the best rebounding team in the America East, while Hartford is -7 and the worst team so far in the conference. If the Great Danes can exploit that advantage it will give them a great chance to win. If the Hawks can be competitive, that certainly favors them. 

Injury Note: Zeglinski (ankle) is questionable for the Hawks after missing the last three games. UAlbany senior Brian Connelly (heel) is questionable, while senior Jimmie Covington (shoulder) is out.   

Prediction: UAlbany 66, Hartford 61 (Both teams beat St. Francis (NY), but Hartford needed double overtime and that was with Zeglinski. My record 11-2)   

With America East Conference play opening tomorrow with three games (Stony Brook at UMBC, Binghamton at Maine are the other two), I asked Connelly and Brown what they thought of this league and this is what they had to say. 

"I haven't really looked at the standings because I know in league play everything is different than in non-league play," Connelly said. "I've seen some teams have played some big schools pretty well. Like I said, it doesn't really matter at this point. I think our conference is probably the best it's been in a few years. I think everybody's pretty talented and it's up in the air." 

"I think that we have some good wins," Brown said. "In years past, we've had two or three teams that have had one or two wins in the non-conference and that has hurt the overall RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) because when you get into conference play, if you haven't taken care of business in the non-conference, you can't help your RPI at all. If a lot of teams with poor records are beating up on each other in conference play, your RPI is not going to improve. I think this league's has a lot of parity." 

He went on to say.

"This might be the year where one of the teams near the bottom can make a nice run in a conference tournament. That would not surprise me at all." 

Labels: , , , , ,

Saints march in to 2009

If you follow this blog regularly or at all, you probably realize a game went, an important conference game, went by without any posts.

I missed the first game of 2009 because I was in Montreal for New Year's Eve.

In what seemed like a very competitive game on Thursday, Siena came out with a 87-81 victory over Fairfield.

Edwin Ubiles led the way with 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Saints and junior point guard Ronald Moore made a certain statement scoring 20 points and dishing out nine assists.

Jonathan Han finished with 22 points and seven assists for the Stags.

This was a big win for Siena.

The Saints are now one of three remaining undefeated teams in conference play.

Siena is 3-0, while Rider is 2-0 and Niagara is 1-0.

Labels: , ,