The Alumni Recreation Center turns into a time machine tonight, back to 1975-76, when the Siena men’s basketball team defeated Union College, 69-64.
A few things have happened since the last meeting between the two programs, though, not the least of which is that Siena has gone to Division I and expects to get back to the NCAA tournament this season.
The Saints, who were known as the Indians the last time Siena and Union played against each other, will use a 7 p.m. scrimmage at the ARC as a tuneup for their regular season, which opens on Nov. 17 against Boise State at the Times Union Center.
Although the Dutchmen are Division III and have a substantial disadvantage in size, head coach Fran McCaffery said Siena has been using its routine game preparation for the scrimmage, right down to scouting video and walk-throughs.
“We’ll approach it like a regular game,” he said. “That means our five starters will all start, and we’re going to try to win. Beyond that, we’ll try to get the young kids as many minutes as we can, which we would do, anyway. We treat every game the same.”
Among the starters should be sophomore Ryan Rossiter in place of senior Josh Duell, who has been hampered by an Achilles’ tendon injury. He has not been practicing, and McCaffery said he doesn’t know when Duell will be ready to get back into it.
That leaves Siena with preseason Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason player of the year Kenny Hasbrouck, first-team selections
Alexander Franklin and Edwin Ubiles and point guard Ronald Moore to face the Dutchmen for the opening tap.
The Dutchmen, who were 9-15 last season and open their season on Nov. 22 against Framingham State in the Babson Tournament, have their top three scorers back — senior Drew Desmarais, senior Steve Madej, a former Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake star, and junior Joey Lokitis.
Each shot at least 35.2 percent from three-point range last year, with Madej hitting 62 of 161 (38.5 percent).
“I like their team, they’ve got some guys who can shoot the ball,” McCaffery said. “Madej and Lokitis can shoot it, and Desmarais is crafty, he’s got a body. They’re built a little differently than we are. They’re not huge, but they all have pretty good size, even the guards. They’ll spread you out, and [coach] Bob [Montana] runs really good stuff. They challenge you with their offense.
“We’re bigger, but we’re supposed to be.”
McCaffery said he was happy with the way Siena played in a closed scrimmage against Colgate last weekend.
“I thought we looked good, we were pretty sharp with our offense. The defensive intensity was there, and we got solid play off the bench.”
Tickets are priced at $20 for adults and $10 for children 14 and under. The proceeds will help offset the cost of the Saints’ recent tour of Italy. Siena students will receive complimentary admission.
All tickets are general admission and can be purchased on-line at SienaSaints.com or at the door tonight.
It marks the first Siena men’s basketball game open to the general public at Alumni Recreation Center in over 10 years. The Saints defeated Korabel-Ukraine, 84-68, on Nov. 6, 1998.
Siena holds a 4-3 lead in the all-time series against Union.
The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a limited-edition Tay Fisher bobblehead doll, and every fan will receive a special commemorative magazine highlighting the Saints’ memorable 2007-08 campaign.
McCaffery said he isn’t sure if the graduated Fisher, who was 6-for-10 from three-point range in Siena’s MAAC tournament championship win over Rider, will be at the Union scrimmage. Fisher is scheduled to be on the court when the championship banner is unfurled during halftime of the Boise State game.