Friday, January 29, 2010

Siena, the hottest team in the country

Kentucky lost on Tuesday. BYU lost on Wednesday. Siena won on Thursday.

And I care, why?

Let me jump back two years. In the '07-'08 season, the Davidson Wildcats had a talented roster headlined by Stephen Curry, Jason Richards, and Andrew Lovedale. Knowing this, head coach Dave McKillop scheduled a tough non-conference slate, including games against Duke, UNC, and UCLA, among others.

Well, that Davidson team, who many predicted to be a sleeper that year, promptly lost every notable non-conference game that season, kicking off the year with a 4-6 start.

They wouldn't lose again until March 30th, when Richards' three drifted left and the eventual national champion Kansas Jayhawks hung on for a two point win to earn their trip to the Final Four.

Why do I bring this up?

Because the Siena Saints are now the proud owners of the nation's longest winning streak at 12 games.

The same Siena Saints that started the season 6-4 with losses at Temple, at Northern Iowa, at Georgia Tech, and against St. John's in Philly.

Ronald Moore doesn't score much, but he's probably Siena's MVP.
(photo credit: AllOverAlbany)

Like Davidson two years ago, a lot of people turned a blind eye to the Saints after their slow start. The thought process was that if they couldn't beat a team like Temple or Northern Iowa, they weren't going to earn an at-large bid or run through the MAAC. Even if they won the auto-bid, this wasn't a team that would make noise in the dance.

But all of a sudden those losses on the road to UNI and Temple don't look so bad, and neither do the Saints.

Siena is a team built for success. Their front line of 6'9" Ryan Rossiter (13.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg), 6'5" Alex Franklin (15.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg), and 6'6" Edwin Ubiles (15.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg), when he's healthy, can match-up with just about any high-major program. Clarence Jackson has proven to be a more-than-capable replacement for the graduated Kenny Hasbrouck, averaging 13.7 ppg.

But the key to this team's success is going to be Ronald Moore. Moore, like Richards for Davidson, is the point guard that makes this team go. He leads the nation in assists with 8.1 apg (and its not even close, John Wall is second at 6.6) while turning the ball over less than three times per game. And while he is the only starter that hasn't led the Saints in scoring, he is their most valuable player, or so says Niagara coach Joe Mihalich.

"Who makes their team win?" Mihalich told the American Chronicle. "That's what I'm talking about. Not the leading scorer, the leading rebounder, but who's the most critical guy for a team? And Ronald Moore makes his team win more than anybody."

The Saints have balanced scoring. They have size. They have athletes. They have a quality point guard with a proven ability to hit big shots.

Oh, and they have one a game in each of the last two NCAA tournaments.

So why should you care about the Saints?

Because more likely than not, this is a team you are going to want to know about come March Madness.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

BOB McKillop.