It’s been a season-long trend that doesn’t appear to be going away: Siena is the best team in the league at holding on to the ball once they get it, but they’re the worst team in the league at getting it once a shot goes up.
With three games left in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference schedule, the Saints continue to search for an answer to their rebounding problem.
Loyola outrebounded Siena,
44-28, in an 83-76 overtime victory at the Times Union Center on Saturday, and when asked after the game what could be done this late in the season to correct that, head coach Fran McCaffery said, “Not much.”
“It’s got to be a collective effort,” he said.
Heading into today’s 7 p.m. game at Manhattan, Siena is tied for first with Rider at 11-4, followed by
Niagara and Loyola at 10-5 and Marist and Fairfield at 9-6.
The Saints are last in the league, by far, in rebounding margin, at
minus 5.8. They lead the conference in steals, and have a huge lead in turnover margin at plus 6.12.
They have a tendency to give up a lot of offensive rebounds — Loyola had 12 — which has been particularly irksome to McCaffery because Siena has been playing better defense, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t go get the missed shots you force.
“We just can’t continue to go
44-28 on the glass,” he said. “We forced 19 turnovers, we only turned it over five times. In a 45-minute game, five turnovers is tremendous, but we’re getting pounded on the glass.
“We have to all take it upon ourselves to go after the boards,” sophomore forward Edwin Ubiles said. “It’s been a problem for us all season. There’s not much we can do, we’ve been talking about this all season. We have to reach deep down and decide that we’re going to box out and rebound.”
Alex Franklin has been a ferocious inside presence for Siena all season, and is fifth in the MAAC at 7.2 rebounds per game, but he isn’t getting a lot of help.
Josh Duell has added size to the lineup since joining the starters
recently, but he’s more of a face-up shooter than a low-post player.
One positive development from the Loyola loss was the scoring of Ubiles, who responded to a dreadful game in a win at Rider by scoring 37 points and nearly carrying Siena to a victory after Kenny Hasbrouck sat on the bench for 17 minutes of the first half with foul trouble.
Ubiles was 11-for-22 from the field, 14-for-17 from the free-throw line and scored all of Siena’s 10 points in overtime.
“He was spectacular,” McCaffery said. “We tried to go to him more today. I didn’t think we went to him enough in the Rider game, and that’s my fault, so we wanted to go to him today and establish him. He clearly established himself as one of the premier players in this league.
“I’m always looking to get better,” Ubiles said. “I did have kind of an off game in the second half against Rider, I did want to redeem myself, but I also wanted to get back at Loyola, because they beat us three times in a row.”
Now, it’s four times, and once again Siena has had its momentum jerked to a halt.
The Jaspers are 4-11 in the MAAC and 10-15 overall, but they’re coming off an 83-62 victory over Marist, another reminder of the parity in the conference.
“We’ve got to be ready for these type of games, because that’s all we have now,” Hasbrouck said. “Manhattan just beat Marist by 20, so that’s going to be a real good game. We’ve got Niagara, also, and Saint Peter’s is playing pretty good.”
After tonight’s game, the Saints will take a break from MAAC competition to play at Boise State on Saturday in the ESPN BracketBusters, then finish up with Niagara at home on Feb. 29 and a road game against Saint Peter’s on March 2.
Tonight’s game will be telecast on SportsNet New York (SNY),
Ch. 66 for Time Warner cable subscribers.