Saints don’t want to leave empty-handed

Nobody wants to leave a three-game tournament as the only 0-3 team, especially Siena.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Nobody wants to leave a three-game tournament as the only 0-3 team.

As the Old Spice Classic winds up with four games today, there are only two candidates for that label, Siena and Oklahoma State.

As much as Siena (2-2) needs a win, though, the Saints are more concerned about getting back to playing the way they did in vic­tories over Boise State and Cornell.

Something got left behind when Siena traveled to DisneyWorld, and the Saints would like to recapture the excellent start-to-finish play they showed against the Broncos and Big Red, starting this morning at 10:30 at the Milk House, where

Siena will face Oklahoma State (4-2)

for the second time in history.

“What’s important for us to do now is get better,” head coach Fran McCaffery said. “We’ve only played well in spurts down here, we’ve not played well for 40 minutes. That’s the challenge for our team, can we play well for 40 minutes?”

It’s especially important for

Siena to get back on track because it doesn’t get a breather after having played three games against top-notch opponents at the Wide World of Sports Complex.

The Saints will fly directly to Baltimore for their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener against Loyola on Wednesday night, then come home after nine days on the road and face crosstown rival UAlbany at the Times Union Center on Saturday.

Siena let its guard down just long enough to allow its first two Old Spice Classic opponents, Tennessee and Wichita State, to win.

The Vols, who will face Gonzaga in the championship game at 7:30 tonight, used a four-minute lapse near the end of the first half to jump on Siena for 18 unanswered points in a 78-64 victory on Thanksgiving Day, and Wichita State trailed the entire way before pulling out a 72-70 victory in the closing minutes on Friday, a bitter loss for the Saints, especially senior captain Kenny Hasbrouck, who missed a straight-on layup just before the final buzzer.

“It’s a humbling experience, I can tell you that,” Hasbrouck said. “[People] talk about how good we are, and we keep losing games. I know we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Hasbrouck agreed that the loss was a wake-up call for the team, but also for any Siena followers who believe the Saints are going to waltz through their schedule.

McCaffery set up a brutal non-conference schedule to harden Siena for the MAAC and the postseason, as well as bolster the RPI, and that schedule doesn’t start a month or so from now; it’s already happening.

“You could say that [the loss was a wake-up call], but I don’t think we look at it as the media and kids in school who hype us up do, we don’t look at it as that,” sophomore center Ryan Rossiter said. “It doesn’t matter what we’re ranked, we just hear it from fans. All you can say is, we can learn a lot from this game and move on from here.

“We’ll get some rest, start watching the film, get the scouting report and see what their tendencies are. We try to prepare for every game the same way.”

GAME ON ESPNU

The Siena-Oklahoma State game will be televised nationally on

ESPNU, as will the second game, Michigan State against Wichita State (12:30 p.m.). Maryland-Georgetown (5:30) and Gon­z­aga-Tennessee will be shown on ESPN.

In the only previous game between the Saints and Cowboys, Oklahoma State won at the 2001 Las Vegas Tournament.The Cowboys are coached for the first year by former Kentucky star guard Travis Ford.

STRONG BACKCOURT

Oklahoma State’s best players are 5-foot-11, 210-pound senior point guard Byron Eaton and 6-5 senior guard Terrel Harris, both from Dallas.

The Cowboys made it to the

Final Four in 2004 under legendary coach Eddie Sutton before losing to Georgia Tech and former Siena

head coach Paul Hewitt. OSU,

17-16 last year, hasn’t been back to the NCAA tournament since then, but had a big win over eventual nat­ional champion Kansas, at the time ranked No. 4, last year, as Eaton scored 26 points and was 16-for-18 from the free-throw line.

The Cowboys had a 12-5 lead early against Michigan State on Friday, but fell behind by 15 at halftime and never recovered, allowing the Spartans to shoot 59.3 percent from the field.

Eaton was 2-for-15, including 0-for-7 from three-point range, in an 83-71 loss to Gonzaga on Thursday.

Hasbrouck is averaging 17.0 points per game for Siena, and Edwin Ubiles and Alexander Franklin are averaging 13.5 and 13.3, respectively. Rossiter leads the team in rebounding at 8.5 rpg.

Despite the disappointing tournament, so far, the Saints can still salvage an important victory over an opponent from one of the big conferences.

“It would be good,” Rossiter said. “We definitely didn’t come out here to go 0-3, and we’re going to make sure we don’t let that happen.”

“I think we’re all going to be desperate to get a win on Sunday,” Ubiles said. “We didn’t come out here to lose three games in a row, so we’re definitely going to bring it on Sunday.”

Categories: College Sports

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