He got me again.
I’ve promised myself, over and over, that I would never let it happen again, but it’s an empty promise.
Ronald Moore is just too damn fast for me.
By now, I should know better than to put my head down, even for what? Three seconds? That it takes to write a jersey number and a few letters of scribbled shorthand on a legal pad?
That’s all the time Siena’s point guard needs to get the ball upcourt and find somebody for an easy basket going the other way. Then my head snaps up, and . . . I never saw it.
We’ve joked about this on press row more than a few times, how at least once during a Siena game, you’re bound to miss a basket that occurs right in front of you because the Saints run off opponents’ made baskets like a counterpunching boxer with a six-pack of Red Bull in his bloodstream.
I should know better, but it happened again Saturday night.
It’s only one of the reasons that, despite the various skill sets of players like the Alex Franklin, Ryan Rossiter and the likely NBA-bound Edwin Ubiles, Moore is by far the most indispensable player on Siena’s roster, the player the Saints can least likely afford to lose for any long stretch of games this season.
The thing is, Siena has players who can do some of the things that these other guys can do. Not nearly as well, of course, but the hole would get plugged or duct-taped or whatever, and Siena would move on.
Not so with Moore.
The freshmen Denzel Yard and Jonathan Breeden are light years away from being ready to handle that load, and Ubiles, who is technically the backup point guard, would keep Siena rolling, but would be removed, to a degree, from his primary role.
Nobody does what Moore does, which is shove the Saints into everyone’s face, whether they like it or not.
He was already leading the country in average assists per game before Siena wiped the floor with UAlbany on Saturday, and with 11 assists, he raised his average to 8.6 per game and his assist/turnover ratio to 3.29.
He found Franklin for an easy basket to start the game, then yelled at junior Clarence Jackson for mishandling a pass in the corner.
After Tim Ambrose scored for UAlbany, Moore produced one of those don’t-blink answers to Rossiter, and the Great Danes’ next basket, also by Ambrose, merely kick-started another Siena fast break leading to a reverse by Jackson from Moore.
Presumably, a made basket is an opportunity for a team to comfortably set up its defense, but not so against the Saints. Ever.
To make matters worse for the Great Danes, Moore’s outside shot was there, too, as he made three of five three-pointers and scored 13 points, well over his season average.
Early in the second half, despite the reminder I got in the first half, I let my guard down again, and almost missed a reverse layup by Ubiles from Moore in transition after another Ambrose basket.
Moore had nine assists against no turnovers in a 74-61 loss at Georgia Tech on Wednesday, and speculation has gone as high 20 as the number he would have had if his teammates could’ve made a lousy layup.
“We wanted to make sure our spacing was good [against UAlbany], so that on penetration we could find people, and there’s none better in the country than Ronald Moore,” Siena head coach Fran McCaffery said.
“We want to get the ball in quick on makes and misses and really run it down the other team’s throat,” Moore said.
He played every minute of the game until midway through the second half, when he came out of the blowout.
As much as McCaffery would like to find spots to rest Moore so he doesn’t wear out over the course of games and the season, he said the senior point guard actually gets stronger and more difficult to slow down as a game goes on, sort of like a punishing running back in the NFL who teams don’t feel like tackling anymore in the fourth quarter. Except he kills with speed and stamina, not size and muscle.
“At times, he can just beat a press by himself,” Ubiles said. “He can pretty much play the whole game. It’s just fun to have somebody like him, and that forces us to be a running team, because he gets it and goes. You run with him, he’ll find you. Maybe he does [get tired], but he doesn’t show it. He can just go and go. I’ve never seen him tell coach to take him out of the game.”
“Being a little sick now, that takes a little toll on me, but with timeouts, you make sure you hydrate yourself, and I’m so used to playing so many minutes now,” said Moore, whose voice betrayed the effects of a two-day cold. “You have to kind of know when to rest in the game and when not to.”
When to rest. Great, could you tell me when you did that?
Because I missed that, too.