2008-09 Siena Basketball Preview: #45
Overall Rank: #45
Conference Rank: #1 Metro Atlantic
2007-08: 23-11, 13-5, 1st
2007-08 postseason: NCAA
Few so-called mid-majors have as much momentum as Siena heading into the 2008-2009 season. The Saints knocked off Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and gave Villanova a good contest in the next game. With seven players returning who started at least ten games last year, Siena and Coach Fran McCaffery have plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
Tay Fisher is the biggest loss. The guard started ten games last year and was a very valuable shooter for the team. Fisher led the team in three-pointers made and three-point shooting percentage during his senior campaign. Chris De La Rosa saw some quality minutes off the bench and does leave some questions surrounding the depth on the perimeter. Center James Carr will also not be returning after seeing action in just ten games last season.
Kyle Downey and Owen Wignot should be able to replace Fisher and De La Rosa. Neither will hit as many three-pointers as Fisher, but both are expected to be able to contribute as freshmen. Downey can handle the ball and score quite effectively. Wignot is a superb athlete and will add another dynamic to the wing. Neither will be asked to do much and that should help both of them develop and play bigger roles in future seasons. Wolfgang Gieler, a 6-9 center, has more experience after spending a couple years at the junior college level and will give a deep frontcourt even more options.
Who to Watch:
Depth on the perimeter might be a minor concern, but the Saints have four returning players who are very experienced and very talented. Edwin Ubiles and Kenny Hasbrouck are the superstars. Ubiles, a 6-6 wing, led the team with 17.0 points per game and added 4.4 rebounds. Hasbrouck was not far behind Ubiles in the scoring column and tallied 16.1 points per contest and a team high 2.3 steals. Those two will continue to put up huge numbers and will likely battle each other for conference player of the year honors. As if Siena’s opponents in the MAAC were not having enough nightmares already, the emergence of Clarence Jackson will make matters worse. Jackson, a 6-3 sophomore, averaged less than nine minutes per game last year, but he had a great off-season, especially during the team’s overseas trip. If Jackson can be a replacement for Ubiles and Hasbrouck without much of a drop off, the Saints will be a better team this year than they were last year. And we have not even mentioned point guard Ronald Moore yet. The senior is a smart floor leader who effectively dictates the tempo and keeps the turnovers to a minimum. Just as important, Moore keeps all the scorers happy.
And there are more scorers than just those on the perimeter. Alex Franklin might be a little undersized at 6-5, but he more than makes up for it with his athletic ability. Even with a back injury, the junior averaged 15.1 points and 7.8 rebounds as a sophomore. This year Franklin is expected to be a consistent double-double threat. Unlike every other spot on the floor, the center position lacks a superstar. However, Josh Duell is a smart and capable veteran who can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting. Ryan Rossiter and Cory Magee have some starting experience. Neither are great scorers, but they can come in off the bench and grab some rebounds and give the starters some rest. Even with all the returning talent, the loss of Fisher could prove to be bigger than most expected. The Saints will still dominate the MAAC, but they need to find a shooter off the bench to open things up for Franklin under the basket if they want to consistently pull off big upsets.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Ronald Moore, Junior, Guard, 8.6 points per game
Kenny Hasbrouck, Senior, Guard, 16.1 points per game
Edwin Ubiles, Junior, Guard, 17.0 points per game
Alex Franklin, Junior, Forward, 15.1 points per game
Josh Duell, Senior, Forward, 5.5 points per game