Siena, UAlbany renew basketball contract

Siena and UAlbany finally signed a contract on Thursday to keep a game between the schools going for
Siena head coach Fran McCaffery laughs as an official interrupts the MAAC championship game against Rider on March 11, 2008, at the Times Union Center in Albany.
Siena head coach Fran McCaffery laughs as an official interrupts the MAAC championship game against Rider on March 11, 2008, at the Times Union Center in Albany.

Siena and UAlbany finally signed a contract on Thursday to keep a game between the schools going for at least three more years at the Times Union Center, Siena’s homecourt.

Despite rumblings prior to

Siena’s 75-71 victory before 13,262 at the TU Center that the series was in jeopardy because UAlbany wanted to sweeten the agreement a little more in its favor, the athletic directors from both schools have maintained all along that it was just a matter of time before a new deal was done.

“It didn’t go on this long because we had to work things out, it went on this long because [UAlbany AD] Lee [McElroy] and I were confident that it would get done,” Siena AD John D’Argenio said. “Everyone’s got a lot of other things to take care of, and this wasn’t a top priority.”

D’Argenio said the new contract resembles the old one, with one exception, seating allotment.

Before tickets become available to the general public, each school gets a certain number of seats in specific areas of the arena that they can price as they see fit.

In the old agreement, UAlbany received 1,600 such tickets, which were positioned in the lower bowl of the two-tier arena, but were mostly in the corners and end zones.

Under the new deal, 500 more tickets will be offered to UAlbany, some of which are in prime viewing sections, like behind the UAlbany bench.

“Our biggest concern was that we would displace our current

season ticket holders, but we were able to give Albany 500 additional seats without doing that,” D’Argenio said.

The rivalry game has been a hot ticket since the series was revived in 2001, and the games are usually close and went to overtime twice in the last three years, even though Siena has won six of seven.

The game has drawn at least 11,000 four times, with the highest crowd total coming last year.

Total attendance in seven seasons is 75,830, for an average 10,833.

“The three-year extension of this college basketball series is good for UAlbany, Siena and area basketball fans,” McElroy said, in a statement released jointly by the two schools.

“This is a great game for the city of Albany and the surrounding area,” UAlbany head coach Will Brown said in the release. “It only makes sense that the two Division I basketball programs in this area meet on an annual basis.”

“The community support for this game has been overwhelming,” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said in the release. “It has evolved into a game that the fans from both schools look forward to each season, and we’re happy to see it continue.”

The game is usually held as a double-header with a game between the schools’ women’s teams, but they won’t play each other in 2008-09 because of schedule conflicts. It will resume as a double-header with the men’s game in 2009-2010.

siena gets downey

With less than two weeks left in the late signing period, Siena didn’t wait long to replace point guard Chris De La Rosa.

Kyle Downey of Fairport High School in Rochester submitted his national letter of intent on Thursday, filling the last available scholarship for next season.

The 6-foot-2 Downey, who

averaged 26 points and 11 rebounds this season, rejoins former Fairport teammate Cory Magee, who will be a junior forward for the Saints next season.

He takes the scholarship forfeited last Thursday by De La Rosa, the freshman backup to Ronald Moore who decided to transfer to get more playing time.

“We had our eye on Kyle for some time, and feel very fortunate to be able to sign a player of his caliber this late in the process,” McCaffery said. “Not only will he be a great asset to our backcourt, but he is a quality person and a great student-athlete.”

Downey was selected the

2006-07 All-Greater Rochester Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.

He is the younger brother of former Canisius guard Kevin Downey.

De La Rosa played in all but one of the 34 games during Siena’s 23-11 season this year, which culminated with Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championships and an appearance in the NCAA tournament, where the Saints upset Vanderbilt before losing to Villanova.

He averaged 2.5 points and 9.5 minutes per game.

Downey is considered a combination guard who can play the point and shooting guard, but he’s more comfortable at off guard.

Besides Downey, other newcomers to Siena’s lineup will be junior college transfer Wolfgang Gieler, a 6-10, 255-pound center from Bonn, Germany, and 6-5 small forward Owen Wignot from Pennsyl­vania.

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