Rebounding has been one area in which Siena has had trouble matching up with its opponents this year.
The Saints will need their biggest rebound of the season today, but not the kind you find on the stat sheet.
Siena is coming off by far its most disappointing loss of the season, an 85-56 defeat at Loyola on Thursday in which the Saints missed 16 of their first 17 shots and scored just five points in the first 11:41 of the game.
They never got it going, and there was a lot to pick at and dissect
afterward, like Siena’s 29.2 percent shooting from the field.
The 7-2 Saints, tied with Marist and Rider for first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, can wash it all away today when they play at Iona at 2 p.m. The Saints were rattled by their poor performance against the Greyhounds, but halfway through the MAAC schedule, they can’t afford to dwell on it.
“I’m more concerned about how we come out tomorrow [today],” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said before practice at the Alumni Recreation Center Saturday morning.
“When you combine all those things that we usually bring to the table that didn’t go, certain things other teams can’t stop, like energy and defense, it was really frustrating,” senior guard Tay Fisher said. “But Iona will be a different story, and hopefully, the rest of the year will be, because this has to be a wake-up call for us.”
The Saints, 12-7 overall, will be trying to get momentum back on their side against a team that gave them some trouble in their first meeting, an 81-76 Siena victory at the Times Union Center on
Siena was in control all the way, without actually putting the Gaels away, and Iona was able to make it a little interesting in the final 25 seconds.
The Saints were 5-for-6 from the free throw line during the closing stretch to counterbalance a three-pointer by Kyle Camper that brought Iona within 77-74 with 15 seconds left. Edwin Ubiles and Kenny Hasbrouck each made two free throws after that.
“That’s the way they play,” McCaffery said. “They’re a pressing team, they turn teams over. It seems like the last six or seven games, teams are averaging 25 turnovers against them. That’s because of how they play. So it’s a unique style that we have to get ready for.”
Iona, 7-14 overall, is 3-6 in the conference and in jeopardy of losing contact with the top half of the MAAC standings.
It’s a measure of how much progress Loyola, which beat Fairfield on Saturday, 79-60, has made that the last time Siena faced Iona, the Gaels were coming off a 92-68 win over the Greyhounds. Now, Loyola might be the hottest team in the conference.
“Loyola’s got a good team,” McCaffery said. “It was probably the best game they played all year, but all their good players had good games, we missed a bunch of shots at the start of the game, and Alexander [Franklin] wasn’t ready to go, so there was a lot of things going into it. We didn’t play well.”
ongoing back problem
Franklin had a big game against Iona the first time the teams played each other, scoring 13 points in the first half as the Saints took a 42-29 lead.
He finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, making five of seven shots and hitting all nine of his free throws.
That was the last game before he hurt his back against Holy Cross, though.
After missing five games, Franklin can show up for a game like his old self, or he can be hindered by his back, as he was against Loyola, when he had one point and five rebounds in 19 minutes.
“Every day, he’s literally day-to-day,” McCaffery said. “How does it feel today? Hopefully, he feels good on gameday. That’s the kind of injury he’s got.”
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