ESPN college basketball analyst and former Manhattan men’s coach Fran Fraschilla will be at the Times Union Center today calling the BracketBusters game between Siena and Northern Iowa at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.
During an interview Wednesday afternoon, I asked Fraschilla, who coached the Jaspers from 1992-96, if this was his first visit to the arena, known as the Knickerbocker Arena back then, since he left Manhattan to coach St. John’s.
There was a pause, and then Fraschilla said, “You mean the first time since I went 8-1 against Siena?”
And then he laughed.
“I say that in jest.”
Fraschilla, who will work today’s game with Ron Franklin, guided the Jaspers to the 1993 MAAC tournament title at the Knick, and had his team in the finals the next two years, losing to Loyola in 1994 and Saint Peter’s in 1995.
“I was watching some tape of the Times Union Center, and it brought back great memories,” Fraschilla said. “Not because we had some success up there, but because we had great rivalries with schools like Siena and also great tournament games in Albany. We won a championship in Albany in ’93, and then I helped the late Skip Prosser get his Xavier job when they beat us in the  championship game. I always told him I helped him go from Loyola to Xavier.
“I do have great memories of competing against [then-Siena coach] Mike Deane, who I have the utmost respect for, and playing in front of great fans in Albany. The MAAC tournament was a special time for me, both when we won and lost.”
Fraschilla coached at St. John’s from 1996-98, and New Mexico from 1999-2002. He joined ESPN in 2003, and has been having fun in his time there.
“I’m enjoying coaching both teams at once, and not having to lose a game,” Fraschilla said.
Siena (15-1 MAAC, 21-6 overall) clinched the MAAC regular-season title Wednesday, and consequently is guaranteed a spot in the NIT. But the Saints’ goal is to reach the NCAA tournament. Winning the MAAC tournament at the TU Center in two weeks will give them an automatic berth.
If the Saints don’t win the MAAC tournament, they would have to hope for an at-large berth. A win over Northern Iowa could help that cause.
“I think it gives them another quality win,” Fraschilla said. “It doesn’t have the magnitude of a win in the Old Spice Tournament and, obviously a win over Pittsburgh or Kansas. But a win over a good Northern Iowa team would be another nice, small part of their resume. Unfortunately, it’s not a Davidson or Butler that has national cache, but Northern Iowa comes out of, maybe, the most successful mid-major league since 2000. They’re at the top of the Missouri Valley.”
Time Warner Cable Sports channel 3 will televise the quarterfinals of the America East Conference men’s basketball tournament March 7 from UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena, it was announced Tuesday.
Rodger Wyland, sports director of WNYT (Ch. 13) and the voice of UAlbany men’s basketball on WOFX-AM (980), will call all four games, starting at noon. Frank Sullivan, America East associate commissioner and former Harvard head coach, will be the analyst.
The America East TV Network will televise the semifinals March 8, and ESPN2 has the championship game March 14.
-- Sunday’s NBA All-Star game earned a 4.1 rating for TNT, the network announced this week. That is up 6 percent from last year.
-- Fox’s coverage of the rain-shortened NASCAR Daytona 500 dropped from last year. The race eared a 9.2 rating and a 19 share, down from the 10.2/20 from last year’s race, which wasn’t interrupted by rain. The last rain-shortened Daytona 500 earned a 9.8/21 in 2003.
The Big Ten Network and Gol TV made their debuts on Time Warner Cable sports digital tier this week. The Big Ten Network is on channel 678. Gol TV, which shows international soccer matches, in on channel 679. Outdoorsmen can tune into The Sportsman Channel on channel 684. . . .
Tonight’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute-Colgate ECAC Hockey men’s game will be televised by Time Warner Cable Sports channel 3. . . .
ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to televise 23 games of the World Baseball Classic, which runs March 5-23. MLB Network will have 16 games. . . .
Charles Barkley returned to TNT’s NBA studio show Thursday. Barkley was arrested Dec. 31 in Scottsdale, Ariz., and his leave began Jan. 9. Police said Barkley had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit in Arizona.