Thursday, March 19, 2009

Guest Column: Ray Floriani on Siena

Ray Floriani is a writer for several sites focused on college hoops, and Rush the Court's MAAC correspondent. He was nice enough to give us an in-depth report on Siena, who take on Ohio State tomorrow night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

By Ray Floriani, Basketball Times, Hoopville, College Chalk Talk

SOUTH ORANGE , NJ – Of all the first round games the Siena-Ohio State matchup is arguably the best. Siena enters the contest with a 26-7 record and the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) championship. A quick look at the Saints:

Overview : Siena defeated a good Niagara team 77-70 in the MAAC finals at the Times Union Center in Albany. A week ago the Saints suffered a 15 point loss at Niagara’s Gallagher Center. Behind a strong partisan following, the Saints pulled away midway through the second half to repeat as MAAC champions.

Siena had all five starters back from a team that drilled Vanderbilt in the NCAA first round last March before losing a tough one to Villanova. Head coach Fran McCaffrey, a long time assistant in his fourth year at Siena, loaded the non-conference slate with trips to the Old Spice Classic (Tennessee in round one) , Pitt and Kansas. The Saints did not defeat any out of conference ‘heavy hitters’ but were competitive.

As defending champions Siena played with a ‘target’ on their jersey. They took everyone’s best shot and put together a strong 16-2 conference record.

Go to Guy : This is a veteran team with several players that can hurt you. In the clutch the one to watch is Kenny Hasbrouck. McCaffrey’s first recruit at the school, he was responsible for igniting the decisive run in the championship. The 6-3 guard leads Siena with 14.8 ppg. A senior, Hasbrouck is a leader and can either score from the perimeter or take the ball to the basket.

Of Note :

Ewdin Ubiles - A 6-6 forward, Ubiles can score and rebound. He is an effective enough scorer to insure defenses do not pay too much attention to Hasbrouck.

Ryan Rossiter – The 6-9 sophomore has come on strong down the stretch. He rebounded and was effective in the paint through the MAAC tournament.

Ronald Moore – A junior point guard with a gaudy 2.8 assist/turnover ratio. Moore is the unheralded glue that runs the team and makes sound decisions without much fanfare.

Alex Franklin – A 6-5 center Franklin is a wide body who simply goes about his job, again , without much notoriety unless you are on the opposite bench. Franklin can score (13.6 pg) and rebound (7.3 rpg). In addition he does the little things like box out, hustle for a loose ball and set effective screens.

The Numbers :
Pace – 73 poss
Off. PPP - 1.04
Def. PPP - 0.94
TO Rate – 17.0

Siena can play half court but will gladly run, in fact, they prefer an uptempo pace. The Saints defend well. They have a strong TO Rate given the fact their games are generally in transition. Defensively, they are disruptive as their opposing TO Rate is 22%.

Final Note: This is a veteran team that tasted NCAA success last year and wants much of the same. Should be a really good one as OSU mentor Thad Matta, formerly worked at the mid-major level, and respects what programs from that group can do. Matta will stress to his players how important it is NOT to take Siena for granted. If he does get a lapse in practice he can always show the Siena-Vanderbilt tape from last March.

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