It wouldn’t be easy to match Tay Fisher’s three-point shooting in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game.
Shan Foster, though, did him three better on Vanderbilt’s Senior Night.
As Siena’s preparation for its NCAA tournament opener on Friday starts to take shape, Foster is going to get much of the attention.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder from Kenner, La., led the Southeastern Conference in scoring and three-pointers, and against Mississippi State on March 5, he showed that he can take over a game by himself.
Foster missed his first six threes, then made his last nine in a row, including the game-winner with one second left in overtime to finish with 42 points in an 86-85 victory.
Because of his size, the SEC Player of the Year could be a matchup problem for the 22-10 Saints, who will leave for Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday morning.
Siena head coach Fran McCaffery left the office at 1:30 Monday morning after watching videotape of the 26-7 Commodores’ loss to Arkansas in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament, a road loss to Alabama and a 97-73 victory over Iona.
Foster has other big guards around him, and the Commodores have been strong inside with freshman center A.J. Ogilvy, who’s 6-11, 250 pounds.
“They’re dangerous because of how they shoot the ball, and they’re also big,” McCaffery said. “Usually in our league, it’s one or the other. They’ve got three-point shooters, they’ve got size. Ogilvy’s a handful, he really is.”
“I think it was probably tougher for people to get ready for us last year,” Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said during the post-draw press conference. “Our team was unconventional and difficult. And not only difficult because it was unconventional, it was difficult because we were good, and we were tough. That team was an extremely hard-nosed, tough basketball team.
“Our team this year is more conventional. In its own way, it’s difficult, too, because of the inside-outside presence this year, where we didn’t have that same inside-outside presence a year ago.”
Siena hasn’t played in eight days, and took two days off following its victory over Rider in the MAAC title game.
The Saints practiced without the benefit of knowing who their opponent would be for three days, but now, they can start to focus on what the Commodores, who won their first 16 games this season after reaching the Sweet 16 last year, like to do.
“I think it’s [time off] a positive, but we’ll find out if we got a little stale, because we were playing really well,” McCaffery said. “I like the idea of being able to just take two days and enjoy it. We didn’t practice, the players could accept all the congratulations and rest and relax, and then we got their attention and started working on our stuff. Their focus was good. Real good, actually. It is a long time between games.“
Backup center Erik Harris rolled his ankle in practice, and was on crutches on Sunday. He’s not expected to play, but will make the trip.
Foster will likely be guarded by 6-3 junior Kenny Hasbrouck and 6-7 small forward Edwin Ubiles.
Ogilvy is the other concern, and he’ll probably see what McCaffery called “the three-headed monster” approach — sophomore Cory Magee and freshman Ryan Rossiter coming in to bang away in support of 6-7 Josh Duell, who has played well against much taller opponents like Rider’s Jason Thompson and Stanford’s Robin Lopez.
“Ogilvy’s wider than Jason, and he’s a little more gifted, offensively, I think, than Robin Lopez,” McCaffery said. “But maybe not. Robin’s pretty good. He didn’t have a particularly good game against us this year, but he did last year. But he sort of reminds me of Robin because they have the big hands. They catch everything. They catch bad passes, they get to rebounds out of their area and they’re not soft.
“You’ve got to really work. You’ve got to play this guy before he gets it. You can’t wait until he gets it.”
McCaffery and Stallings, who has taken Vanderbilt to the Sweet 16 twice in the last four years, know each other from their days as assistants at various schools in the Midwest.
McCaffery said the Commodores remind him of Roy Williams-coached teams; Stallings was an assistant under Williams at Kansas.
“Of course, he’s been on his own for a long time now. But there were some similarities of how they run the quick up [tempo], they get it in and get it down the floor,” McCaffery said.