Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE FIRST HALF: UAlbany at Maine OR The defense saves the day

Let's talk about the University at Albany defense real quick.

The Great Danes have quietly been the dominant force of the team this season and despite a pair of back-to-back losses in the past two weeks, that defensive front was, once again, the driving force for the team in the first half of Saturday's game, taking a 10-7 lead over Maine into the half.

All 10 of UAlbany's points came off of Maine turnovers as Christian Dorsey recovered a Black Bear fumble and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown before a late second quarter fumble eventually set up a 52-yard field goal by Patrick Toole.

After the first two quarters, Maine has out-gained Albany 178-to-80 but penalties and a solid performance by the UAlbany defense has helped keep the Bears relatively quiet.

In fact, the only Maine points came early in the first quarter as freshman quarterback Drew Belcher found Arthur Williams for a 14-yard touchdown pass.

By the same token, UAlbany's offense hasn't been doing much of anything.

Will Fiacchi is just 5-for-19 for 37 yards and has been sacked four times - all four of which came on third down. In that same vein, the Great Danes are 0-for-10 on third down but was able to convert on fourth down with a short run by Omar Osbourne.

If the Danes are going to hold off a Maine comeback in this second half, the offensive line is going to have to start playing better and Fiacchi is going to have to get a little more accurate. On more than one occasion the senior quarterback has overthrown his receivers. Strictly speaking, Fiacchi (from what I can hear over the radio broadcast) has been trying a little too hard to find freshman Josh Gontarek.

Meanwhile, the ground game is still struggling slightly. Osbourne has run 14 times for 65 yards, averaging 4.6 yards a carry with a long of 13.

Maine will get the ball to start the second half.

Friday, October 17, 2014

UAlbany football depth chart heading into crucial CAA matchup against Maine

It'd be a pretty solid idea for the University at Albany football team to win on Saturday afternoon.

After starting the season 4-0, the Great Danes have dropped two straight games, both against CAA foes, and, in the process, dropped right out of the Top 25 rankings and off the national radar.

Now, with their first road game in nearly on a moth on the schedule for this weekend, the Danes head north to take on reigning league champions Maine in a pretty-much, must-win game, for both squads.

Someone's two-game losing streak is going to snap on Saturday. So, how does UAlbany make that happen? With this depth chart of players, of course!

Take a look at who's suiting up for Saturday's game under the cut.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Siena's Brianna Logan out for season with torn ACL

The Siena women's basketball team made a less-than-ideal official announcement on Thursday afternoon. 

Sophomore Brianna Logan will miss the entire season after tearing her ACL in the team's first practice last week. The injury will require surgery for the New Jersey native. 
via Siena athletics

It's a big blow for the Saints who were already thin on the roster as far as experience and was prepping Logan to, most likely, start at point guard this fall. 

"Bri Logan was our most improved player coming out of the summer and into fall workouts," said head coach Ali Jaques in a statement released by the team. "My heart absolutely breaks for her. She had done everything and more to position herself for a fantastic sophomore year. I cannot explain why, but I am confident that this young woman will come back even stronger when she gets through this. She is a fighter, and our team will be resilient and continue to fight and find a way."

Logan appeared in 30 of Siena's 31 games last season, averaging four points in 19.1 minutes a game and finished second on the team with 57 assists. She was also named MAAC Rookie of the Week last December. 

The Saints will hold their annual media day next Monday, so it will be interesting to see how the team copes with Logan's sudden removal from this season's roster. Siena officially opens its season on Friday, November 14 at Buffalo. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

MAAC coordinator of men's basketball officials Mike Kitts to attend Siena practice

Mike Kitts, who was named MAAC coordinator of men's basketball officials this past summer, will attend Siena practice on Wednesday afternoon, joined by a corps of referees. 

The idea is that the Saints, who were among the most penalized teams in the nation last year and also led the league in fouls, will be able to get some first-hand knowledge on what qualifies a call and what exactly is going to require a ref to blow his whistle this season. 

"He just ref'ed last year, 100 games in the Big 10," Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said. "He’s coming tomorrow. Now, besides the scrimmage and the exhibition, we are getting set a crew of his, including five guys, that are coming to a practice. This is what most of the ACC and the Big East and stuff do."

via -
Kitts, who will be taking in practice with every MAAC team this preseason, will be on hand to answer questions from Siena players and coaches as well as explain what is expected out of them as far as how rules, of which there are a few new ones this year, work. 

While the position of coordinator in and of itself is certainly impressive, Kitts entire resume is enough to make anyone with a passing interest in college basketball take pause. 

A Syracuse native, Kitts officiated in 19 NCAA Tournaments, including four national semifinal games in the Final Four. He also officiated the MAAC championship game in 14 of the last 16 tournaments and, in 2008, was the recipient of the Naismith Award, given annually to the nation's top referee. 

He's also the same ref who ejected Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim (for the first time in his career) during an exhibition game between the Orange and the College of St. Rose in 2005. Kitts was also the same ref who collided with St. John's forward DJ Kennedy in the first round of the Big East Tournament in 2009 (I know this because I covered that game, as a sophomore in college).

Kitts took over coordinator duties from Brad Tracy who had served in the position since the 1990-91 season. 

This is a huge opportunity for the Saints, as a team, to metaphorically pick Kitts' officiating brain and another chance for the team to work out their preseason kinks before opening at UMass next month. 

"What (a foul) is, what it isn’t, what we’re doing, what the new modern rules are." Patsos said of what he hopes Kitts brings to Wednesday's practice. "How the arc’s used, how we think. I still call a block when a guy slides over. I don’t know what he’s going to tell. But the rules have become important. He ref’ed the Sweet 16 last year, so it’s good to have a guy like that come out. I can tell them all I want, but this is big."

Scorch, no more. Flames to retire mascot after controversial beginnings.

Well, it's been a dramatic ride Scorch. 

The Adirondack Flames' mascot, which was officially unveiled last week amidst a wave of criticism that drew some national attention, the first-year AHL team has officially decided to retire the mascot on Tuesday afternoon. 

The story was first reported by The Post-Star

So, what was all the controversy about in the first place? 

Here's the deal. 

Scorch, so the legend goes, is one of the last remaining flames of the great 1864 fire that destroyed 112 buildings in Glens Falls. According to a press release sent out by team last week: 
"From the lingering embers of the fire, deep within the dwellings of the blacksmith shop, Scorch was spawned. For 150 years, Scorch remained a glimmer, but with the arrival of the Flames this summer, the flame began to grow. After 150 years, Scorch is now Fired Up as the 2014-15 season begins."

Yup. That's the story. The flame has waited, all these years, for that one AHL team to light its metaphorical and literal fire, which is slightly ironic since hockey is played on ice. But, they're the Flames and a fire mascot makes sense. 

That's not the controversial part. That came at the official unveiling. 

That was when Scorch, whose head is also a puck, took down an actor portraying a Glens Falls firefighter. Not the best thing. The mascot did not appear at the teams' home opener at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday. 

After last week's less-than-ideal beginnings, the team released a statement on the event from team president Brian Petrovek: 
"On behalf of our entire organization we want to apologize for our thoughtlessness today.  We have obviously turned something good, the launch of a mascot which we will use to entertain and encourage young fans, into something that is in poor taste.  That was not our intention and again we apologize."

Farewell, Scorch. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

THE FIRST HALF: Richmond at UAlbany.

Throwing an interception on the third play from scrimmage was probably not the ideal way for UAlbany senior quarterback Will Fiacchi to start his final homecoming game for the Great Danes.

That's what happened though and the play, in its own way, kind of exemplifies the first half of this game with Richmond up 27-10 on UAlbany.

After back-to-back plays of positive yardage, Fiacchi received his first pressure of the game and looked to toss the ball on an inside route over the Richmond line. Aaron Roane was right there though, picking off Fiacchi for just his second interception of the season and set up the Spiders with a short field less than two minutes into the game.

Richmond took advantage, as Michael Strauss (a former UVA quarterback) found Reggie Diggs from four yards out for the Spiders first score of the game. Diggs found his way into the back of the end zone, able to make the play after UAlbany safety TJ Idowu tried to make the interception and the ball flew threw his hands.

The Danes staged a fairly impressive drive on their ensuing possession but stalled in Richmond territory and Patrick Toole's 50-yard field goal attempt was well short of its mark.

The biggest problem for UAlbany, once again, was keeping pace with the opposition. The Spiders consistently converted on third down and while the defense held strong (forcing just a field goal on the next Richmond drive) the Danes defense never quite looked up to speed.

By the end of the half, Richmond had converted on seven of nine third down attempts, while UAlbany was just one of nine at the same mark.

The Danes did look good on offense early in the second quarter as Jake Meek scored UAlbany's only touchdown of the opening 30 minutes on his third wildcat scramble of the season, this one from seven yards out.

That was all UAlbany would get though, as Fiacchi continued to face pressure (and some serious hits), throwing for 148 yards in the first half. While he was taking a beating behind the line of scrimmage, Fiacchi's receivers were having an even harder time staying on their routes and on more than one occasion, the senior's passes were on the mark, but simply dropped.

Those drops came back to haunt the Danes on their final drive of the half - after giving up two quick Richmond touchdowns - as both Brian Parker and Cole King missed key passes that could have found the end zone instead of settling for a field goal with 12 seconds left on the clock.

By the break, Richmond had out-gained UAlbany 249-to-185 and Strauss had thrown for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Omar Osbourne - who has rushed for four straight 100+ yard games - has been held to just 27 total yards.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fans turn out in droves to preview Siena hoops

The fans were invited and the fans answered; in droves on Tuesday night. 

The Siena men's and women's basketball team held their annual preview night in front of the Times Union Center in front of hundreds of fans, giving ticket holders (and the media) a chance to hear coach's plans, talk to players and impart maybe a little bit of wisdom ahead of this year's basketball season. 
Men's coach Jimmy Patsos talks the upcoming season with 
reigning CBI-MVP Brett Bisping on Tuesday night. 

"I think this is the most we've gotten since I've been here," senior guard Rob Poole, who led the men's team in scoring last year, said. "I mean, it's really nice because we're playing really well together. With all the fans, it's great to have them here. They're the ones who support us, come to all the games, so it's great."

For the men's team, who is still riding the wave of momentum after last year's CBI championship, the expectations to perform - especially against MAAC competition - are higher than ever. Not that they particularly mind. 

They are here, after all, to win games. 

"You just have to play," junior Brett Bisping said. "You can't think about all the expectations or all of the preseason rankings or anything. You just have to go out and play. All  the teams are going to be good. We're going to have to grind out wins and we're not going to sneak up on anybody anymore."

It's an interesting season for both teams, with the MAAC tournament set to return to the Times Union Center this March. It's always a difficult league schedule, but with the chance to win a title in their own backyard, both Saints teams are anxious to prove themselves, even if they aren't entirely focused on securing a championship; yet. 

"The tournament is so far away," women's basketball coach Ali Jacques said. "It’s something that we can talk about in concept, but we are so young and we have so many things we have to address before we even get there, that just seems like so far away, I can’t even think about it. But we are very lucky to have it in our back yard."
Siena senior Rob Poole signs autographs
at the Saints' annual basketball
preview night. 

At the end of it all though, expectations and pressure and sheer excitement aside, these Saints are simply ready to play basketball, thankful for the support and anxious to notch some games in the win column. 

It's officially basketball season and Siena is ready. 

"I'm so anxious to play," Poole said. "We had our first practice yesterday and I feel like I've been practicing for the past five months. My legs are killing me, my body is killing me. I just want to get it over as quickly as possible. But we've got to go out there and prove ourselves. Last year we snuck up on some people, they weren't expecting us to be good and we know we have a target on our back. We have to come out and be prepared every day."