Siena assist whiz Moore only interested in tournament success

Siena's Ronald Moore is picking up assists at a record pace, but is only concerned about the Saints'
Siena’s Ronald Moore makes a pass in front of Manhattan’s Rico Pickett on Saturday.
Siena’s Ronald Moore makes a pass in front of Manhattan’s Rico Pickett on Saturday.

This seems to happen every year.

Siena players pile up individual accomplishments, but put them on hold because they continue to have business to take care of.

Ronald Moore’s business is to take care of the ball and take care of his teammates, which he has done to such a level that he can now claim the title of all-time assist leader in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Let the record show that Moore passed Marist’s Jared Jordan when Ryan Rossiter got the roll on a basket inside to give Siena a 7-5 lead with 17:35 left in the first half against Fairfield in the MAAC championship game on Monday.

During the first media timeout a few minutes later, the public address announcer mentioned Moore’s record, then the game resumed. Move along. Nothing to see here.

The senior point guard from Conshohocken, Pa., upstaged himself, anyway, by making another big three-pointer to give the Saints a 60-58 lead late in regulation. They would go on to win in overtime, 72-65.

Also for the record, Moore has 818 career assists, which ranks 22nd all-time in NCAA Division I, and has a chance to move up another spot or two when the Saints (27-6) play in the first round of the NCAA tournament next week.

That will all be gravy, to be tasted at a later date, for Moore.

“I’m just thinking about the tournament,” he said on Wednesday. “The individual achievements really haven’t set in on me too much. It’s definitely a great accomplishment, but as a team, winning a championship is my No. 1 priority. Now that we’ve done that, I just want to turn around and get ready for the tournament. We want to go deep in the tournament.”

In fact, it’s ironic that Moore will be better remembered among observers not close to the Siena program for making important three-pointers than he will be as a passer extraordinaire.

Moore, one of 11 finalists for the John Wooden Award for the best point guard in the country and a first-team all-MAAC selection, leads the country in average assists per game, at 7.8, and is one of the national leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7).

He made two of the biggest shots of the NCAA tournament last year, a three in the final seconds of overtime and the game-winning three in the final seconds of double overtime against Ohio State in the first round in Dayton, Ohio.

He made a similar shot against Fairfield, a wide-open three on a kickout pass from Edwin Ubiles, who also assisted on Moore’s game-winner against the Buckeyes.

Those scenarios are improbable considering Moore’s three-point percentage this season is .230, and he had made just five of 42 threes (12 percent) over the 21 games leading into the MAAC semifinals.

Head coach Fran McCaffery said he had no problem with his cold-shooting point guard taking the big shot, though.

“That was the shot of the game, but the play of the game was Eddie getting Ronald the ball,” McCaffery said. “Eddie went [into the paint], he pulled it, he went again, he backed [Sean] Crawford down and as soon as the double-team came, bang. And Ronald had a year and a day to shoot that ball, and everybody in the building knew it was in, I don’t care what his percentage was, that shot was going in.”

“Every time he drove, he does his swerve-and-derving and puts it in, and when he’s in the paint, he’s able to score that way,” Moore said of Ubiles. “A lot of teams sink in when he does that. I kept telling him, ‘Keep looking opposite, keep looking opposite.’ He decided to look opposite, finally, with about two minutes to go. That really gave us a boost.

“I don’t know. It’s a confidence thing. I like to play at the biggest stage and take the big shots, so when an opportunity presents itself, I really thrive on moments like that. Sometimes, I even surprise myself to make shots like that when it really counts.”

Jordan was a senior at Marist when Moore was a freshman.

Fairfield’s freshman point guard, Derek Needham, was a runaway winner of the MAAC Rookie of the Year, and Moore said he wouldn’t be surprised if Needham comes after Moore’s assist record.

“Having played against Jared Jordan my freshman year, I picked up a lot,” Moore said. “He was a great player, and he definitely gave credit to me when I was a freshman, saying that I was going to be a great player. That meant a lot to me.

“Derek really led his team the whole season, and me being a sen­ior, I couldn’t let a freshman come in here and steal the spotlight, but he’s going to have a tremendous four years at Fairfield, and I guess you could say you’re passing the torch along to him.”

Light week

While most conferences will be busy with their tournaments this week, the Saints will use the time to get in some weight work and shooting, and heal some nagging little injuries and soreness.

“That’s the beauty of winning on Monday and not having to play for almost two weeks,” McCaffery said. “Rossiter tweaked his ankle two days before the Manhattan game and really didn’t say anything about it. He just taped it up and played, so he can get to 100 percent. [Kyle] Griffin hurt his shoulder three days before the Manhattan game, so we’ve got to get that better. But all of them will get a chance to get 100 percent.”

Freshman O.D. Anosike is the player who will benefit the most from the timeout.

He sprained his left MCL against Manhattan when teammate Clarence Jackson was fouled on a drive and fell into Anosike’s knee.

Anosike wore a brace on his knee in the semifinals and final.

“O.D. was not himself in either of the final two games,” McCaffery said. “He desperately wanted to play, and I played him, but he was not himself. He will be.”


Siena will hold a NCAA Selection Show party from 5:30-7 p.m. on Sunday in the Alumni Recreation Center on campus. The event is open to the general public. The entire team and coaching staff will be on hand. . . .

Former Siena star Kenny Hasbrouck will be playing for the NBA Development League Rio Grande Valley Vipers against Tulsa in a game televised on Versus at 11 p.m. Saturday.

Hasbrouck will see a familiar face in the Tulsa lineup. B.J. Mullens, who played for Ohio State against Siena as a freshman in the NCAA Tournament last year, has been assigned to Tulsa by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Categories: College Sports

Leave a Reply