Siena Men’s Basketball Non-Conference Schedule Breakdown
The non-conference schedule for Siena men's basketball has been out for a while now, giving everyone a chance to digest it and give it a closer look. It is about time that we do the same with a breakdown of their games leading up to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action.
November 9 vs. Vermont
November 11 at Navy
NUDCF Basketball Challenge (All Games in San Diego, California)
November 16 vs. Cal State Northridge
November 17 vs. Northern Kentucky
November 18 vs. San Diego (end of tournament)
November 25 at Maine
November 28 vs. Massachusetts
December 1 vs. UAlbany (Albany Cup)
December 4 at St. Bonaventure
December 7 vs. Rider
December 23 at Fordham
December 29 vs. La Salle
BracketBusters (Date and Time TBD)
The first thing that jumps out at me when I see this schedule is how heavy it is on Atlantic 10 teams. Siena will take on four A-10 teams in their non-conference, including conference tournament champion from last season St. Bonaventure, who nearly upset Florida State in last year's NCAA Tournament. The Bonnies won't be as good as they were last year after losing Andrew Nicholson to the Orlando Magic via the NBA Draft, but that will be an interesting game. A-10 top half teams La Salle and UMass will be good competition as well, while cellar dwelling Fordham should be a win for the Saints.
Siena also take on three America East opponents with home dates against Vermont and UAlbany in the annual Albany Cup game, along with a road date with Maine. Maine will drop off from last year's decent season as a result of losing leading scorer Gerald McLemore. Vermont are the cream of the America East crop and their game last year came down to a buzzer beater, while it will be interesting to see how UAlbany function without top scorers Gerardo Suero and Logan Aronhalt. The last two years have featured very competitive games between both Capital Region teams, with 2010 going to UAlbany in overtime and 2011 seeing Siena come back from an 18 point first half deficit to defeat the Great Danes.
As far as the tournament in San Diego goes, Siena fans aren't going to find the best competition to be there. However, it is essential for teams to gain experience in a tournament play scenario, as every team (especially teams in leagues that don't earn a large number of at-large bids, such as the MAAC) wants to ensure themselves an NCAA Tournament berth by winning their conference tournaments in early March.
There is also one conference game on the portion of the schedule that has been released thus far, a home date with Rider. A fast start in conference play would be huge for the Saints.
Overall, I like the design of this schedule by the Siena Saints. There is a nice mix of tough and soft competition, road games all over the country, and a nice intro to tournament play (in a warm weather location, no less). We will see how the Saints grow through the schedule and how they look heading into MAAC play.