Long day for Siena
Siena College’s basketball team had a long travel day on Monday.
Pete Iorizzo’s blog in the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union details a trip that started with boarding a commercial flight at 5:45 a.m., Eastern time in Albany, and ended with touchdown at 4:30 p.m., at Kansas City International.
“Well, at least the Saints don’t have to play the defending national champions tomorrow. Oh wait, yes they do,” Iorizzo wrote in his blog.
The Saints sat on the plane in Albany during a two-hour de-icing.
Upon arriving for a connection in Detroit, they again sat for 30 minutes waiting for fuel. Twenty minutes after takeoff, the Saints’ flight returned to Detroit because of a problem with a gear on the plane.
“All that extra fuel made us too heavy to land. So we circled the city of Detroit for an hour to burn off some extra gas,” Iorizzo wrote.
Siena, 10-4, returns all five starters off last year’s 23-11 team. The Saints stunned Vanderbilt, 83-62, in a first-round NCAA Tournament game, before falling to Villanova, 84-72, in the second round.
“They will win their league,” KU coach Bill Self said of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference school located in Loudonville, N.Y., just outside of Albany.
“I think they should be put in position they don’t even have to win the (postseason) tournament to get an at large bid. They press as much as Tennessee presses once the ball is in bounds,” Self added. “They play fast. It will not be one of those walk it up type games.”
Some have called this a “trap game” for KU since it comes after Saturday’s win over Tennessee and before Saturday’s contest at Michigan State.
“It can’t be that from our position. I can’t imagine our guys looking past anybody, especially a team as talented as Siena,” Self said of the Saints, who have won five straight games and eight of nine.
Noted guard Sherron Collins: “It’s not a trap game because Siena is good. They beat Vanderbilt by 25 in a tournament game. They’ve got five starters back.”
Three of Siena’s losses came at the Old Spice Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Saints fell to Tennessee, 78-64, Wichita State, 72-70, and Oklahoma State, 77-68. Siena also has lost at Pittsburgh, 79-66.
Siena has wins over Boise State, Cornell, Loyola, Albany (71-64), Marist, Buffalo, Saint Joseph’s, Holy Cross, Fairfield and Saint Peter’s. KU beat Albany, 79-43.
Little’s leg sore
KU junior Mario Little, who played 10 minutes in his season debut versus Tennessee, was “sore like we thought he’d be,” at practice on Monday, coach Bill Self said on his Hawk Talk radio show.
Little is battling back from a stress fracture in his lower left leg as well as a broken bone in his left hand.
“He’s going to be sore. He’s not done anything in such a long time,” Self said. “What we have to decide is he on three off one (days of practice), on two off one. We have 10 days to figure it out then make a decision on what his status will be (in terms of possibly red-shirting).
“He sparked us (against Tennessee). He does not have the explosion he’ll have in a month or so. He was a factor in us winning.”
Siena’s Ryan Rossiter and Josh Duell, who missed the Saints’ last game because of the flu, made the trip to KU and were feeling better Monday according to the Albany paper. KU’s Brady Morningstar, who’d been weakned by the bug, says he’s fine.
Siena, Holy Cross clash
Siena coach Fran McCaffery called the play of Holy Cross’ players “dirty” following the Saints’ recent 12-point victory.
In the game, Siena guard Ronald Moore ended up with a few stitches below his lip, and Duell suffered a black eye. Also guard Alexander Franklin “got hit in the head on numerous occasions,” McCaffery told the Albany Times Union.
McCaffery waved his players off the court following the buzzer with no post-game handshake.
Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard defended himself and his team on his own blog. His entire statement is available at http://www.coachralphwillard.com/blog.html.
Self on his T
Self, who was tooted for a technical foul versus Tennessee, discussed his ‘T’ on his weekly Hawk Talk radio show.
“First of all, I thought I had a debatable case. After I watched the tape I realized I was dead wrong,” said Self, who was miffed Quintrell Thomas was called for a foul while setting a screen.
“I think the call may have gone either way, but you don’t do that (scream at ref). I did a very poor job in handling that. In what was discussed between us, I didn’t agree with his explanation of why it was a foul. After seeing the tape I can see where he came from.
“It was an emotional game, a big game for us. I don’t feel I handled that well at all. You want to fight for your team and sometimes ‘Ts’ are OK. I was too emotional with it. It’s something I need to address and not put my team in that situation again.”
Today’s game is the 500th coached by Self. He has a record of 359-140. He’s 152-35 at KU. ... This is the first meeting between the teams. KU is 12-1 versus MAAC opponents. Last meeting was a 90-60 win over Loyola last January. ... Jeff Withey, KU’s 7-foot transfer from the University of Arizona, now is planning on arriving on campus on Jan. 12, his mom told Rivals.com. Withey can practice but not play in games until next December.