The cramped visitors locker room at Rider’s Alumni Gym had a loud, boisterous, goofball air to it Friday night, as several of the underclassmen, like Steven Priestley, O.D. Anosike and Clarence Jackson, did their best comedy improv in the aftermath of a surprisingly easy, breezy win over the Broncs.
Somewhere in the back, quietly going about the business of dressing, was senior Edwin Ubiles. Classmates Alex Franklin and Ronald Moore were also in the room, unobtrusively packing up while their teammates enjoyed the moment.
At 4 this afternoon, it will be the three seniors’ moment, as Siena closes the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season with a Senior Day game against Marist at the Times Union Center.
Their contribution to the program has been anything but quiet — Franklin could be considered the front-runner for MAAC player of the year; Moore is on the verge of breaking Marc Brown’s career assist record; and Ubiles is fourth all-time in scoring — but above all else, they’ve been about winning.
That will be the overriding theme today as the Saints (16-1, 23-6) take on the sacrificial lamb Marist, which has had a nightmare season due to player losses and departures.
The Red Foxes are 1-16 in the MAAC and 1-27 overall, but don’t try to tell Siena’s seniors that this is a cakewalk. They’re looking at it as the final opportunity to get on a roll heading into the MAAC tournament, which will begin for the Saints at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday with a quarterfinal game.
Judging from Siena’s 80-54 dismantling of Rider, the Saints are as serious as they need to be right now.
“We’ll approach it just like tonight, same amount of focus, same amount of energy,” Ubiles said on Friday after the Rider game. “It’s going to be Senior Night, so you know the crowd’s going to be into it and we’ve got to treat it just like tonight, if not even more. Even though Marist hasn’t played well this year, they’re probably going to come out fired up.”
“It’ll be emotional,” Moore said. “It’ll be Senior Night, the last regular-season game playing with these guys. I had a fun career here, and we definitely want to make it a special one.”
After getting eight assists against the Broncs, Moore has a total of 882, 14 fewer than Brown.
Ubiles scored 21 points against Rider and has 1,854, 63 behind Kenny Hasbrouck in third.
Since Moore, Ubiles and Franklin came to Siena, the Saints are 93-37 (.715), have played in the MAAC Championship game three times and have won the MAAC tournament the last two years.
The Saints won a first-round game in the NCAA tournament in each of the last two seasons, too.
Ceremony will take a back seat to more important business, though.
Siena put together perhaps its most complete effort on Friday, and the timing couldn’t be better, with the MAAC tournament starting this week.
The Rider game also washed away any sour taste lingering from the disappointing 70-53 loss at Butler on ESPN2 the weekend before.
Moore, who has been in a shooting slump, was 5-for-9 against Rider, and the Saints didn’t have their confidence rattled by the Butler loss. If anything, it spurred them to an intense week of practice and an even more intense game right out of the chute against the Broncs.
“The thing about him is he’s taken good shots,” McCaffery said. “He’s not taken bad shots, and he’s going to make those, typically. So I wasn’t really worried about him. Everybody else seemed to be worried about him, but I wasn’t.”
“We know we’re a great team and we can play with teams like that [Butler],” Moore said. “We wanted to get ourselves together before making this next run, which is going into the MAAC tournament, and, hopefully, into the NCAA tournament. So our focus was definitely up all week. Coming into this game, we were looking to maintain that for the rest of the season.
“We had to put it behind us. You have to stay positive, which we definitely did. We came together as a team, playing together, passing the ball, and that’s when we’re at our best. When we stick to that, we feel like we can beat a lot of teams.”
Ryan Rossiter’s 14-point, 13-rebound performance against Rider was his 12th double-double in the last 14 games, and he leads the MAAC with 17 this season. He also had four assists with no turnovers.
Siena had an unusually strong night from three-point range, making seven of 13 (.538).