He asked KU coach Bill Self if the victory over the Vols would give the Jayhawks (10-3) confidence versus the Spartans.
Oh, wait a second.
“I think it definitely gives us confidence, but
we’re not thinking about Michigan State. We got Siena coming
in,” Self said. “They did some unbelievable things
last year with their entire cast of players returning. We
won’t look at Michigan State until Wednesday.”
Siena (10-4), which had one of the best seasons in school history last
season, comes to Allen Fieldhouse tonight in a 7 p.m. tipoff (CST).
The Saints went 23-11 in 2007-08 and crushed Vanderbilt by 21 points in
a stunning first-round upset in the NCAA tournament. Siena would have
actually played KU in the Sweet 16, but lost to Villanova, 84-72, in
the second round.
The Saints return all five starters, including preseason player of the
year Kenny Hasbrouck and first-team all-Metro Atlantic Athletic
Conference selections Edwin Ubiles and and Alex Franklin. Hasbrouck, a
6-3 senior guard, led the league in steals last season (2.26 spg) and
ranked in the top 15 in several MAAC categories. He’s tied
with sophomore guard Clarence Jackson for team lead with 13
three-pointers, while ranking third on the team in scoring at 11.9
points per game.
Ubiles, a 6-6 junior guard, leads the team with a 14.5 point scoring
average and 17 blocked shots, while also averaging 4.9 rebounds per
game. He is a high flyer and the most talented player in the MAAC. Just
check out YouTube
where his monster tomahawk dunk against Niagara last season
has been viewed 3,446 times.
Franklin, meanwhile, is another force who averages 13.8 points and a
team-high 6.9 rebounds per game. The 6-5 junior forward is the
league’s top returning rebounder (7.8 rpg) and also finished
fifth in field goal percentage (.568) and sixth in steals (1.59 spg)
Siena, which is located in Loundonville, N.Y., near Albany,
has other weapons as well. In fact, the team’s most important
player may be 6-0 junior point guard Curtis Moore, who leads the Saints
with 5.9 assists per game while also averaging 8.4 points and 3.1
rebounds per contest. He is one of the most underrated point guards in
the country, and will be looking to make a splash on the national scene
against KU’s Sherron Collins.
“Siena needs Moore,” wrote Albany (N.Y.) Times
Union writer Mark McGuire. “He allows everybody else to do
what they do. More often than not, the junior is going to be a key
reason why Siena wins a game, whether that means dishing to the Saints'
big guns, hitting a 3-pointer or leading the break.”
The Saints’ fifth starter is sophomore forward Ryan Rossiter,
who averages 8.7 points and ranks second on the team with 6.3 boards
Siena, which is off to a solid start playing its toughest schedule in
school history, brings a 4-0 conference record and five-game winning
streak into Allen Fieldhouse. The Saints’ losses this season
came against Oklahoma State, Wichita State and nationally ranked
Tennessee in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando in November, and then at
current No. 1 Pittsburgh, 79-66, on Dec. 17.
Self knows the Saints are quite dangerous. After all, they walloped
Kevin Stalling’s Vanderbilt team last season in the
NCAA’s, 83-62, their first appearance in the Big Dance in 14
years. Hasbrouck scored 30 points while graduated senior guard Tay Fisher added 19.
“That was remarkable how they dismantled a really good
Vanderbilt team,” Self said on his Hawk Talk radio show
Like Self, McCaffrey has taken three different teams to the Big Dance
— Lehigh, UNC Greensboro and Siena. He’s
resurrected the Siena program, which was 6-24 just before he took over
“They’ll win their league,” Self said.
“They’re good, and Fran has obviously done a good
job there. They’re getting 12, 13,000 people to their (home)
games. The community has really jumped on and supported their program.
This team can give anybody in the country problems on their court, and
our guys understand that. We’ve shown enough film and we
spent extra time in scouting report. Although our biggest concern is
who we are and what we do, certainly our guys will have total respect
of their ability.’
And rightfully so. Self compared the athletic, up-tempo Saints to
Tennessee, although Siena (73.4 points per game) averages 11 points
less than the Volunteers.
“They press as much as Tennessee,” Self said.
“They probably don’t deny the ball to get it in as
hard, but they definitely do that. They actually press more than
Tennessee once the ball is inbounds. They play fast. This is certainly
not going to be one of those walk it up type games.”
The Jayhawks enter the game with great confidence and momentum after
their 92-85 victory over Tennessee, their best game and best crowd this
“Our crowd was great,” sophomore center Cole Aldrich said. “They came out right from the get-go when we
made some shots. They just kept riding us. They just give us a great
boost of energy when we hit shots and do good things on
Kansas will need some help from the Allen Fieldhouse faithful again in
another tough non-conference matchup. Don’t count on the
Jayhawks overlooking the Saints with the Michigan State game looming
four days later.
“They’ve got three guys (Hasbrouck, Franklin and
Ubiles) who should be (among) the top five players in their
league,” Self said. “So that tells you how good
“Our fans should enjoy their style of play,” Self
added. “It should be a fun game.”
*KU junior guard Sherron Collins was named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of
the Week (Dec. 29-Jan.4). He had what he called the best game of his
career against Tennessee, scoring a career-high 26 points and dishing
out nine assists. In two victories (KU beat Albany on Dec. 30) last
week, Collins averaged 16.5 points, 6.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds. The
Chicago native has led the team in scoring in 10 of 13 games this
season. This was the second time Collins has been selected as Big 12
Player of the Week and the first for Kansas this year.
*Self said Mario Little was sore a day after the Tennessee game, but
practiced full speed on Monday. The 6-5 junior forward made his season
debut after battling back from a stress fracture in his left leg and a
broken bone in his left wrist.
Jayhawks Meet Up With Siena Tonight
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