Our man Bill Raftery has had many memorable calls, few more memorable than “Onions…a double order!” at the conclusion of one of the best games of the 2009 NCAA Tournament:
It doesn’t get much better than that. Siena replaced Kenny Hasbrouck, one of the best players in school history, rampaged through the Metro Atlantic during the regular season before needing a huge rally to defeat Fairfield to capture an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Saints (27-6, 17-1) are an athletic team with solid depth and valuable experience.
Key wins: Northeastern, Fairfield (3 times)
Key losses: @ Georgia Tech, @ St. John’s, @ Temple, @ Northern Iowa, @ Butler
Projected seed: 13
Analysis: Siena is led by four seniors, including leading scorer Alex Franklin, who averages over 16 points a game. Athletic swingman Edwin Ubiles, who has evidently inherited former Gonzaga star Austin Daye’s giant t-shirt, provides a nice compliment to Franklin’s inside game. Ronald Moore, the man responsible for Raftery’s double-order call last year, averages nearly eight assists per game while leading a potent Siena offense. Clarence Jackson has emerged as solid running-mate alongside Moore and can fill it up from 3-point land.
Strengths: With four legitimate double-figure scorers, Siena can score with just about anybody. The Saints scored at least 80 points in 12 games this season and are a very unselfish bunch. Having a dependable point guard makes a huge difference in the NCAA Tournament, and Siena is a very veteran team with valuable tournament experience.
Weaknesses: Somewhat undersized with very little depth. Siena played a brutal non-conference schedule this season to prepare for the rigors of the NCAA Tournament and is certainly be used to playing against tough competition. However, the Saints didn’t fare well outside of what was a weak MAAC, surrendering a late lead to Temple and suffering blowout losses to Northern Iowa and Butler. The lack of a quality win is somewhat alarming.
Tournament Prognosis: Obviously, it’s difficult to predict how a team will fare without knowing the matchups yet. Siena’s tournament experience and balanced attack makes them a challenge for any opponent. Realistically, the Saints will probably need a little magic to make a run in the NCAA Tournament this year.